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Author Archives: Shahar Erez

Delivering Business Innovation with Application Management A presentation at the O’Reilly Velocity Conference

A few weeks ago at the O’Reilly Velocity conference, Komal Mangtani, who heads up engineering for our Application Management business, and I co-presented VMware’s point-of-view on how applications need to be managed in the cloud era and how you can leverage the cloud to drive business agility and operational efficiency for your IT organization. Our presentation can be viewed here.

Velocity attracts many cutting edge, “New Age” companies as well as big, established players. Attendees are mainly system administrators but there’s also a large contingent of developers and operation teams.

Komal and I kicked off our presentation by walking through a number of examples of how business and IT innovation have been accelerating over the past few decades. We made the following case to the audience:  not only is the speed of innovation accelerating, but it’s fundamentally changing the way applications need to be built, deployed and managed.

As we analyzed these examples, it was clear to everyone that software is the key element driving innovation today. Marc Andreessen made this very point last year when he wrote in the Wall Street Journal that every company is a software company. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – Manufacturing, Telecom, Financial Services, Pharmaceuticals – what you’re doing is powered by software.

Just a few short years ago, IT was a business enabler; today, IT is the business. While most business and IT executives recognize this truism, many of them are unsatisfied with their innovation performance. The key reason is that the innovation delivery chain suffers from a split personality disorder:  developers want to innovate with abandon, while operations teams want a very stable environment with tight control. For ages developers have been seeking ways to improve their software development lifecycle, moving from waterfall to agile and scrum methodologies in order to get their latest and greatest code rolled into production as quickly as possible. Operations teams, however, have put in strict rules to slow down that process in order to maintain control and avoid outages. With these two forces pulling in opposite directions, innovation can’t thrive and IT developers and operations teams – and, more importantly, the business – suffer.

One of the latest trends that is closely tied to rapid innovation and execution is the adoption of Platform as a Service (PaaS). Admittedly, PaaS is an over-hyped concept, but in general PaaS does indeed simplify the development process and enable ongoing innovation. However, it’s still a maturing approach and many solutions in the market lack significant enterprise features while threatening to create vendor lock-in.  In fact, one of the core distinctions VMware’s “Cloud Foundry” has delivered is openness with respect to where the application can get deployed, in recognition to the lock-in challenge.

In our talk, Komal and I differentiated between various types of PaaS. Although we use the word PaaS very commonly now, the industry has recognized that there is more than one PaaS. There is aPaaS  (Application PaaS)– where solutions like Google AppEngine, force.com, Intuit serve as examples and there is iPaas (Integration PaaS) –  examples include IBM CastIron and Informatica Cloud Services.

Some PaaS solutions are built exclusively to users for a specific SaaS application like NetSuite BOS while others are independent like LongJump or Relational Networks. And so, we highlighted that when talking / exploring PaaS, make sure you understand the full context and extensibility of each of these offerings.

The reality, however, is that it’s still early days for PaaS adoption and most business applications do not, and will not run on PaaS in the near future. The industry generally agrees that PaaS will be the application platform of the cloud era and a very different developer experience, one where they can focus on core development and not environmental details. Hence, the driver for PaaS, the ability to deliver applications faster to market, needs to be balanced and tackled per project as it is still not a one size fits all.

The $64,000 Question (for those of you who remember that iconic game show) is, what is? The answer lies in understanding the nature of the challenge.

In order to enable innovation today and to make an impact on your business, you need to be able to set up new environments quickly. You need to be able to service millions of users around the clock. You need to be able to develop new capabilities in an agile manner and apply these changes on an ongoing basis. The evolution of IaaS has made getting infrastructure up and running in minutes a reality. At the same time, agile development has had a huge impact on making newly developed software available much more quickly. The challenge today is to get that newly developed software up and running on the instantly available infrastructure in a controlled manner while maintaining agreed service levels.

In my next post, I’ll walk you through how the VMware Application Management Suite addresses this challenge, and how you can deliver innovation for your business by bridging your development and operations teams to achieve agile operations.

VMware vFabric Application Director is Now Available to Simplify and Automate Releasing Applications to the Cloud

At VMworld Copenhagen last October, we unveiled three new suites to help customers transform how they manage infrastructure, applications and the business of IT in virtual and cloud environments.  Our vFabric Application Management Suite is comprised of two new solutions that streamline the processes of packaging, deploying, monitoring and optimizing applications on hybrid cloud infrastructures. Last November, we announced the general availability of the first of these two solutions – vFabric Application Performance Manager Today, I’m pleased to report the general availability of the second – vFabric Application Director

vFabric Application Director is the result of more than two years of intense development to deliver a completely new approach to provisioning and managing applications. As IT organizations accelerate their virtualization adoption and form their cloud strategies, there is an emerging opportunity to revolutionize how applications are being built, deployed and managed to better serve business needs. Together with vFabric Application Performance Manager, vFabric Application Director provides a complete solution for the challenge of meeting the business’s growing appetite for new applications and upgrades to existing applications.

There are a lot of solutions in the marketplace attempting to address the challenge of simplifying and accelerating the build and release of applications onto cloud infrastructure. Most do so with a bottom-up, script- (or orchestration-) heavy approach that grew out of the traditional world of physical IT:  provision a server, layer an OS on top, stick some software on top of that and then move on to the next server. This approach is too rigid and inflexible to take advantage of the choices cloud provides: where to run your application (private, public, hybrid cloud), what scale to run it at, and what middleware or web services you wish to leverage.

So if the traditional approach doesn’t work, what’s the answer? 

Purpose-built for the cloud era, vFabric Application Director empowers IT organizations that subscribe to the cloud journey, enabling them to adopt an efficient, agile approach to the deployment process. Leveraging the concept of an application blueprint as well as templated application components, vFabric Application Director allows you to “declare” the application and service structure while assuming that the underlying cloud infrastructure will deliver on the compute, network and storage as required.

Out of the box optimized for the vFabric product family, vFabric Application Director significantly automates and streamlines your build and release efforts. We found some of our beta customers and early adopters were able to cut setup time from more than four days to just 2.5 hours for a typical multi-tier application. And since you only have to create an application blueprint once, you avoid the need for multiple, tedious setups across development, test, staging and production.

Once built (it takes just minutes using drag and drop capabilities) these blueprints can be deployed on any VMware vSphere-based private or public cloud, delivering on the cloud promise of choice. This approach frees developers and application administrators from dealing with infrastructure, OS and middleware configuration issues, allowing them to focus on delivering business value with their applications.

ApplicationBluePrint

However, managing an application doesn’t end with its deployment. Just as critical is the operations team’s ability to monitor it in production. vFabric Application Director enables you to set up monitoring of your application as part of the deployment process. And that’s where our other solution, vFabric Application Performance Manager, kicks in.

As with any great product, vFabric Application Director wouldn’t have been possible without a great team, and I’d like to thank and congratulate all those involved in its development. We’ve learned a lot over the past 24 months, not just about the product itself, but also about how to develop, deploy and manage applications in the cloud. And we’re applying that insight to shape the next generation of our application management solutions.

To find out more about vFabric Application Director and download a trial copy today, please visit: http://www.vmware.com/products/application-platform/vfabric-appdirector/overview.html

VMware vFabric Application Performance Manager Now Available to Deliver a New Approach to Managing Applications for the Cloud Era

I am very excited to announce on behalf of VMware the availability of a new management solution. vFabric Application Performance Manager was launched on the main stage at VMworld Copenhagen just two weeks ago to an enthusiastic response by customers, analysts and the press, and it’s with great pride as the Product Manager of this new solution that I am now announcing its availability to our customers. This is the first solution we are bringing to market of the three new suites we unveiled at the show to help customers transform how they manage infrastructure, applications and business services in virtual and cloud environments.

vFabric Application Performance Manager is focused on managing the health and performance of applications deployed on virtual and cloud infrastructures. It’s the culmination of more than 18 months’ in-house innovation and development combined with IP from several acquisitions VMware has made over past few years (B-Hive, Spring Source and Hyperic, to name a few). 

Personally, I’m delighted VMware has reached this milestone as I joined the company 18 months ago to define our application management strategy and product roadmap. vFabric Application Performance Manager is the first of a series of new products and solutions we will deliver in the app management space over the course of the next year (but as all parents know there’s always a soft spot for the first born! J)

Of course, you may be asking – why all the excitement?  It’s not as if Application Performance Management is a new market and, yes, Application Performance Management solutions have been around for quite some time. After all, some would claim that virtualization and cloud are just two more layers on top of the OS. Given that perspective, what’s the big deal about yet another application management offering?

Here’s the deal. Traditional management approaches designed for static application architectures get in the way of unlocking the full potential of cloud computing. Applications today are going through a tremendous shift with the emergence of new, lighter platforms and development frameworks that greatly accelerate and streamline application modernization and development. These developments reflect the growing acceptance of workload virtualization as the de facto emerging standard. It’s a natural next step in the journey to cloud and IT as a Service. 

At VMware, we have built vFabric Application Performance Management in a way that empowers application owners to leverage the constructs of virtualization to assure optimized service levels and customer satisfaction. This approach becomes critical in the cloud era, given the need for flexible resources and the ability to scale applications up and down based on fluctuating business demand.

With vFabric Application Performance Manager, application owners will now be able to work with IT more efficiently to solve potential performance problems early on with real-time visibility into transaction performance and embedded details on resource and code performance. While simple to use, vFabric Application Performance Manager also streamlines application support processes so that application build, release and monitoring teams can collaborate and maintain application performance more effectively. And with the ability to track live changes and cost across any cloud, application owners will now have the insight to know how and where exactly to scale their applications.

vFabric Application Performance Manager, together with vFabric AppDirector (a complementary solution for application provisioning and deployment that was also announced at VMworld Copenhagen), supports VMware’s Active Application Management strategy. Active Application Management is aimed at streamlining the processes of packaging, deploying, monitoring and optimizing applications on hybrid cloud infrastructures. It’s a significant step forward in enabling our customers’ adoption of a modern cloud operating model.

From time to time I meet customers who still view VMware as just a virtualization platform company. The reality is, we are now building a broad set of management offerings designed to help IT organizations improve agility, reduce cost and achieve greater business value. In the era of cloud computing, we believe it’s time for IT management to rethink its approach to management – vFabric Application Performance Manager is one of our new solutions to help you do just that.

To find out more about vFabric Application Performance Manager and download a trial copy today, please visit: http://www.vmware.com/products/datacenter-virtualization/vfabric-application-performance-manager/overview.html