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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

A Cloud For Europe: Colt Expands vCloud Datacenter Service

Yesterday at VMworld in Copenhagen, Colt announced further expansion of its vCloud Datacenter Services into four new European countries – France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. But doesn’t the cloud mean you don’t care where your computing is done, so long as it’s secure and cost effective? Why does it matter that there’s now a local vCloud Datacenter Service in all these countries?

All vCloud Datacenter Services offer a globally-consistent infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) service definition that is audited and certified by VMware. The goal is to allow VMware customers to deploy to the cloud in any geography with no changes to the application. IaaS is a highly competitive market and each service provider delivers additional value around that core IaaS offering. Colt’s announcement is good example of their differentiation, and also underlines the importance of intimate local market knowledge for cloud.

At the core of this expansion is that the three most important issues in cloud computing for European organizations are location, location and location. Data privacy and security legislation varies significantly from country to country, which means that knowing where your data is located and who has jurisdiction and access are vital to a cloud for Europe. If you’re an organization operating in Switzerland and have Swiss customer data, you have to comply with that country’s strict information privacy and data retention laws. Putting your data in (say) Ireland doesn’t cut it.

European organizations are also leery of a variety of US laws and its law enforcement approaches, notably the Patriot Act and the FBI’s use of National Security Letters (NSLs) to enforce it. NSLs allow the FBI to order any service provider in its jurisdiction to hand over electronic communications or data without review or demonstration of probable cause, and to retain that data indefinitely. The FBI can also simultaneously gag the recipient, who cannot disclose that the request has been made. The American Civil Liberties Union estimated that more than 40,000 NSLs are issued each year. As a result, there’s a growing market for cloud service providers that are not subject to US jurisdiction.

The net? Working with a cloud service provider like Colt that stays on top of the shifting sands of EU and individual country regulations, and who offers very specific data locality and security in its cloud services is an important differentiator. Colt is able to make the decision simple – with its vCloud Datacenter Service you can co-locate your computing with your data inside country boundaries. Need to comply with Swiss privacy regulations? Deploy your application and keep its data in Switzerland, with a back-up site in the same country.

Read more about Colt’s expansion here.

 

Escaping The Chaos Monkey — Enterprise vs Commodity Cloud

Earlier this week I gave a talk at the Cloud Connect conference in Santa Clara to highlight the differences between commodity (developer) and enterprise clouds. The idea was to highlight that the two types of cloud aim to solve very different problems for very different audiences: new (or re-written) applications running on commodity hardware, and enterprise IT agility for existing applications. The Chaos Monkey of the title refers to a tool developed by Netflix to simulate a commodity cloud within their own datacenter. It's symbolic of the fundamentally different assumptions underpinning clouds designed to act as an extension of an enterprise datacenter, and those designed to cheaply host new applications designed for a brave new world of commodity computing.

The slides are available here:  Download Cloud Connect chaos monkey R3

The monkey on the title slide is a graffito by Banksy, for those who are wondering(!)

Cloud, meet Enterprise

This week we, along with our partners, announced the service availability of vCloud Datacenter Services. We think this is a major milestone because these are the first production enterprise hybrid clouds. There are already several “swipe your credit card get a developer VM” clouds out there, so why do we need three more? Precisely because these are not “swipe your credit card” developer clouds. These are clouds designed and architected to run existing enterprise applications with flexibility, performance and security.

I can imagine some reaching for their Twitter clients to lambast me for failing to acknowledge there are some enterprise apps running in those developer clouds today. Of course there are – but that misses the point. These are either new or re-architected applications, not the 99% of existing applications upon which IT departments spend 70+ percent of their budgets (according to Gartner).

I see a market for both types of cloud – developer and enterprise – but the enterprise cloud market is just getting started. Here are three reasons why this is important:

Reality check one: cloud is not just about raw infrastructure 

We’ve done a couple of enterprise cloud surveys recently, and in one of them IDG Research, partner to CIO magazine, asked 636 enterprise IT executives in the US, Europe and APJ about their cloud plans – and what was holding them back. Top of the list were performance, security, availability and portability. 88% said they’d be happy to move to a cloud that offered them the same or better security as they had inside their own four walls. This aligns with many conversations we’ve had with VMware customers, who haven’t made significant moves to use public clouds because of these barriers. 

Gartner’s Lydia Leong blogged on this topic recently, saying “provisioning raw infrastructure is the easy and cheap part, in the grand scheme of things.” What we’ve heard from VMware customers aligns with that. Enterprise IT folk need is the flexibility and agility of public cloud, coupled with the security, performance, availability and services they get in their own data center today. Oh, and help to deploy and manage all of this stuff would be helpful too. As would local presence and delivery capabilities in countries with strict data privacy laws (think Switzerland, Germany or France).

Reality check two: converting VM files isn’t hybrid cloud

Portability is another issue that is top of mind for enterprises. It gets back to the 99% of applications they run – enterprises want to know how those puppies are getting to the cloud. Several cloud providers offer tools to convert virtual machine file formats so that they can run on their cloud infrastructure. VMware is a keen supporter of open VM file formats (and open cloud APIs, too), which today means the industry-wide OVF file format. Most of these converters translate to a cloud-specific proprietary VM format. This has led some to proclaim that they can now offer a hybrid cloud, or indeed some sort of cloud portability. Translating the file is the easy part – but what about the application inside the VM? Is it going to get the same layer 2 network configuration it expects, for example? There are a host of dependencies and in developer clouds the assumption is that the app gets re-coded to use the new APIs of the host cloud. This is not portability — it's porting, the proverbial check in to the Hotel Calfornia of apps.

Portability really means that the app behaves the same way without modification (new code) – because modification means more expense, not lower costs. It also requires the same kind of security in the cloud that the customer can get in their own datacenter. vCloud Datacenter services provide both for VMware customers: the same VMware vSphere infrastructure foundation they use today, and auditable security for the cloud infrastructure, individual app and user level.

Reality check three: businesses don’t budget using credit cards 

Some have suggested that contracting with a cloud provider for a specific service level isn’t cloud, as if there were some “cloud purity law” that says credit cards are the only way to go. The only kind of purity law I enjoy is the German one concerning beer.  Let’s get real: businesses plan and budget their expenditures in advance. Staying within budget (i.e. predictable spend) is a very important concept for businesses. It may also be advantageous to strike a contract rather than paying instantaneous or “spot” rates, because it also allows the provider to plan ahead and get greater efficiency.

vCloud Datacenter provides a way to guarantee resource allocation to apps, and therefore guarantee predictable performance and predictable billing. The other fact of life at most businesses is that if something is going well and there’s lots of customer demand, budget can rapidly be reallocated to capture that demand. So even in this situation, the customer can scale up or scale down quickly. 

Cloud, meet Enterprise

One of the more enjoyable things about the cloud is its rapid evolution. We’re seeing the emergence of different flavors of cloud, and my guess is this will only continue as enterprises begin to really embrace this new model of computing. As we’ve worked with thousands of enterprises to virtualize and embark on the journey to the cloud, our customers have spoken.  They’ve told us what they need from a cloud service, and we are committed to delivering. Today we and our partners introduce the enterprise  hybrid cloud, designed to deliver IT agility and self-service, while maintaining security, performance and control.

Virtual Data Centers — The Goldilocks of Enterprise Cloud Computing

It’s no surprise that just about every customer likes the on-demand, rapid scale nature of cloud computing.

More interestingly, we also heard from enterprises with public cloud experience that this was a double-edged sword. Dynamic and on-demand can also mean unpredictable and hard to control. As one customer explained to me, “We have no idea what the credit card bill is going to be at the end of the month, and we have a finite budget”. In other words, dynamic is great if your budget is dynamic too – which isn’t the nature of budgets and finance folk. And this was for one application. Just imagine a situation where an IT department is providing raw compute to many different business units, and wants to delegate administration to them but also stick to a budget.

Fundamentally, the tension between on-demand infrastructure and predictable costs isn’t going to go away anytime soon. But I do believe that the concept of virtual data centers can provide a “Goldilocks” middle ground solution. Within vCloud Datacenter Services from VMware’s partners, enterprises can subscribe to committed VDCs of a given size. The cost of that VDC is fixed and predictable — related to the amount of resources that are now committed. This puts a control boundary on costs, and your service provider can tell you exactly what that will be – so you get predictable spending against your budget.

Within that VDC, you and your user population can run, start and stop as many VMs as you like – truly dynamic self-service. End-users can never run up a massive bill through over-consumption, because they can never consume more resources than the VDC provides (and vCloud Director offers automated policy controls to clean up forgotten VMs). If it turns out you need a bigger or smaller VDC, you open a ticket with your service provider to make that change. So you haven’t had to give up on-demand compute infrastructure, either.

Perhaps not surprisingly, when “cloudy” types gather over drinks this is a source of vigorous debate. Can opening a ticket really be on-demand? Frankly, I don’t think there will ever be agreement on that, but it does provide a useful middle ground: on-demand self-service for VMs within the boundaries of a virtual data center, which can itself be scaled up or down quicker than you can fill out a PO for a new server. It’s something a geek Goldilocks would love—and understand.

The Enterprise Hybrid Cloud, Delivered

We’re excited about announcing vCloud Datacenter Services at VMworld 2010 because they're the first examples of a globally consistent enterprise-class hybrid clouds. Let me explain what that means and why it’s important.

In a nutshell, vCloud Datacenter Services — offered globally by leading service providers — marry the dynamic, on-demand nature of public cloud services with the compatibility, security and control that enterprise computing requires. A hybrid cloud is defined as two or more clouds that offer data and application portability.

We did a great deal of research with our customers – talking to those who were considering external clouds into their computing environment. We learned a lot from these conversations and I’ll be writing about them in a series of future posts.

Agility

There was a consistency to what we heard: enterprises of all sizes that loved the promise of the dynamic, on-demand nature of public clouds  – the ability to get computing capacity quickly, with no up-front investment and few restrictions in the types of operating systems and software that could be deployed.

Some of you were finding it a bit uncomfortable, in fact, because there was now an external yardstick for the price of on-demand, commodity computing and storage capacity — which drove focus and learning around the benefits that cloud computing might bring to your organizations. This led to another critical insight: access to on-demand computing as a commodity was not enough by itself.

Portability and compatibility

Why? The first challenge is both economic and technical: we learned that a lot of pilot cloud projects were brand new applications, largely because it was technically difficult to take an existing application and make it work in an external cloud. Existing systems are what an organization depends upon, and in economic terms they represent sunk cost. So the extra cost of re-writing or porting an existing system to work in a shiny new cloud environment is often a non-starter.

At the same time, you were very conscious that the majority of IT dollars go into keeping the lights on for existing systems – so the cloud’s ability to reduce some of those costs or avoid new ones (e.g. a datacenter build out) was attractive.

As a result, a key feature of all vCloud Datacenter services is VMware-certified compatibility and portability: you can take existing virtualized applications and move them to the a public cloud provider of their choice with little or no rework.

Much as I wish there was no rework at all, some systems have assumptions about the operating environment baked into them – such as IP address ranges  – which means there is some work to remove those assumptions. But, with systems that don’t have that kind of restriction – and there are lots of those – there is no need to wait for an internal cloud deployment. You can start getting cloud computing benefits right away using the virtualization technology you’re already familiar with: VMware.

Security

Another important area that we heard about time and again was security. Consequently, security is a key part of vCloud Datacenter services. There are three parts to this: the security of the cloud infrastructure itself, the applications running in the cloud, and the access and authentication rights for cloud users within your organization.

You told us it wasn’t enough that the infrastructure and apps are protected; security teams and auditors need to be able to verify and document it too. To deliver on that, vCloud Datacenter service infrastructure has to meet a strict set of physical and logical security controls, with all logs available for inspection by third party auditors. We developed a control set derived from ISO 27001 and consistent with SAS70 Type II for that purpose, which our service provider partners implement.

We also took advantage of the new vShield Edge and vCloud Director “follow the app” virtual security, which provides a full stateful firewall (again, the logs are available for audit), virtual Layer 2 networking, and full Layer 2 network isolation. As a result, security policy and implementation automatically follow the app, regardless of where it lands physically. (There will be more on this in another blog post.)You also get full role-based access control, authenticated against your own enterprise directory so that you have the kind of access and authorization security you’re used to.

In short, we think the enterprise cloud is about three things: agility for computing services, portability of  existing virtualized applications, and security – not just the protection you expect, but also the transparency required to pass audit.

I’ll be writing more about our experiences working with customers who are building enterprise cloud environments in future blog posts.  In the meantime you’ll find more details on vmware.com

Cloud computing: it’s an approach, not a destination

Hi, my name Murthy Mathiprakasam. I joined VMware last week as a product marketing manager.

The first few weeks at any job are a blur of ramping up, learning the lingo, and generally drinking from the fire hose.  At VMware, this is all in hyperdrive.  Not only is there a lot of exciting stuff going on over here, there are also a dizzying amount of tech terms and acronyms.  Through it all, one word has come up in almost every meeting and conversation I’ve had: Cloud.  

Now, I have to admit, I’ve always found the term and the buzz around it kind of confusing.  It seems like everyone has their own definition of Cloud, and every technology company has a Cloud angle.  Isn’t VMware all about virtualization?

So, I set out to understand VMware’s definition of Cloud, and the first thing my new boss said was:   “It’s an approach, not a destination.”

He expanded on this, offering the following perspective:  Cloud Computing is an approach to computing that leverages the efficient pooling of on-demand, self-managed virtual infrastructure, consumed as a service.

And then, it all came together for me.   

We live in a world of getting “exactly what I want, exactly how I want it, exactly when I want it.”  People buy shoes, apps, car insurance whenever they want.  They buy music and movies however they want (a single song, a 2 day “rental,” a custom channel).  In all these cases, it doesn’t matter where the product is coming from – only that we get what we want, when we need it.

This is the promise of cloud computing, bringing the “what I want, how I want, and went I want it” to the business.

And here is where I began to understand VMware’s vision.  There is no quick answer for “going to The Cloud.”  The approach is for IT departments to take an evolutionary path from virtualizing their data centers to developing a Private Cloud architecture that can be bridged with external Public Cloud resources to get the full flexibility of a Hybrid Cloud.  For IT departments to go down this evolutionary path, they are going to have to change the way they work. 

This is Cloud Computing.

It will take me a few more weeks to understand some of the concepts, the changes, and the technologies that will make all of this possible.  I do understand that virtualization is central to this approach. Some of the words I’m picking up are agility, self-service, security, policy-driven… but even if I don’t understand the details, I understand the potential.  Today’s datacenter isn’t built to deliver “what, how, when.”  At VMware, we are helping customers transform the way IT operates  – transform the datacenter  – in order to better serve the line of business (and us business consumers) in a way that is streamlined, responsive, and cost-effective.  

I’m looking forward to learning more about this approach and hope you are too.