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VMware Roars Into OpenStack Summit

As we head out to Portland for the latest installment of the OpenStack Summit, we have an exciting agenda of speaking sessions and demos, and will be showcasing our latest virtualization wares on the show floor.  For a schedule of all the VMware sessions, we’ve created a show planner for you here. Here’s a snapshot of what you can expect (and experience) at the show.

Keynote Session – “Virtual Networking, A Vagabond’s Log”

On Wednesday, April 17 at 1:50 p.m., VMware’s Martin Casado takes you along on the network virtualization journey. While it’s still an evolving area, the industry now has a few years of virtual networking under its belt. In this talk, Martin will draw from his experience of hundreds of customers visited, hundreds of thousands of miles flown, and dozens of deployments to describe use cases, what works, what doesn’t, and where things seem to be going.

Panel: Network Virtualization and OpenStack Networking users

Want to hear from real world Quantum users at eBay and HP among others? This session is a panel discussion with OpenStack users that have hands-on experience deploying Quantum in production environments, backed by network virtualization technology.

VMware/Nicira NVP Deep Dive

On Monday, April 15 at 11:00 a.m., VMware will provide a “deep dive” into the Nicira Network Virtualization Platform (NVP). This session will provide a detailed overview of NVP, its components, how NVP operates, and how NVP integrates with OpenStack Quantum.

Case Study on Virtualizing Advanced Network & Security Services

On Wednesday, April 17 at 11:50am in room A106, VMware’s will present a technical session on the state of the art in advanced networking and security services implemented in software. The session will dive into the operational and technical elements of integrating services such as load balancers, firewalls and VPNs in your cloud via OpenStack Quantum’s REST APIs. The session will explore the benefits of using virtual appliances to deliver these services on top of standard x86 servers further decoupling network service feature delivery from hardware installs, procurement, and forklift upgrades.

OpenStack Networking Hands-on Lab

On Wednesday, April 17 at 3:40 p.m., users will get access to a live OpenStack + Quantum setup and be able to walk through key quantum deployment use cases, with members of the Quantum core development team available to provide guidance and answer questions.

We hope to see you there!

Try your own vCloud in minutes

Today, we’re announcing that we’re introducing a new service that allows you to get your own vCloud IaaS service in minutes, called vCloud Service Evaluation. We heard from many customers that they came to vmware.com to learn more about vCloud services, but that it wasn’t easy to sign up with a credit card, kick the tires, and learn by doing. vCloud Service Evaluation will provide a quick, easy and low-cost way for you to learn about the advantages of a vCloud through hands-on testing and experimentation.

You can sign up for the beta here: http://vmware.com/go/vcloudbeta. We’ll be sending out invites to those who sign up the week of August 27th, and those of you who are going to VMworld in San Francisco can see and try the service at the cloud services pod within the VMware booth.

You’ll need a credit card to use the service. It makes the service self-funding, and we can keep things simple, avoiding complex “service quotas” and other artificial restrictions – and also offer Windows VMs. We learned that customers have widely differing requirements for tests and proofs of concept. So, instead of annoying restrictions, you pay a small amount for what you use – a 1Gb Linux VM with one vCPU is $0.04/hour – and you are free to run the VMs you need until you are done. Once you have entered your card details, you’ll get your credentials within 15 minutes. If we need to verify anything, you’ll get a call.

To keep costs down, we commissioned a VMware vCloud service provider to build and operate the service on our behalf. We’re giving you a vanilla example of how a vCloud Powered service – delivered by a VMware vCloud service provider – would work. It’s worth pointing out that vCloud service providers offer significantly more in terms of cloud functionality. vCloud Service Evaluation has all the basics like a catalog of useful VM templates, virtual networking, persistent storage, external IP addresses, firewalls, load balancers, the vCloud API etc., but you’ll get a lot more in a production vCloud service.

To find that production vCloud service, head to vcloud.vmware.com: the gateway to the world’s largest network of certified compatible public cloud services, including more than 145 vClouds in 28 countries.

To get you started quickly, vCloud Service Evaluation offers a variety of pre-built content templates (at no charge) including WordPress, Joomla!, Sugar CRM, LAMP stack, Windows Server and a mix of web and application stacks and OSes. You can also Bring Your Own VM (BYOVM). That’s right, you can BYOVM and put it into your own private catalog for deployment. You can do that either by uploading it directly into vCloud Director, or you can run the vCloud Connector VMs into your account (they’re in the public catalog) and use that to transfer your VMs from vSphere or any other vCloud.

Here’s what the main console looks like:

Vc-se-console

The service evaluation also allows you to run the VMware vCloud Director® interface.

Vcd-console

We also learned that while we had some great information on vmware.com, but that it was hard to find stuff relevant to vCloud – and it wasn’t clear where to ask questions. So we put all the “how to” guides in one place, added some new ones, and also provided a Community site (message boards) where you can ask questions and get answers from experts at VMware and our partners.

How-to

Community

Finally, email, chat and telephone support is available Monday through Friday for billing enquiries and to report any technical problems. “How do I…?” questions are best asked (and answered) on the Communities site.

We hope you find vCloud Service Evaluation a simple, low-cost way to learn about VMware vCloud, and look forward to getting your feedback on the service.

Welcome, Google, to the raw VM IaaS market

Google announced limited beta of Google Compute Engine, its IaaS service, at Google I/O yesterday, after weeks of rumor and speculation. The IaaS market has evolved into two segments: “raw VM” IaaS led by Amazon Web Services, and enterprise, where the cloud directly supports the application with higher performance, more flexibility and high availability. This segment is dominated by the VMware vCloud service provider ecosystem.

Google’s service apes AWS in that it explicitly offers no availability guarantees, and existing applications are not invited to the party: the service is designed for start-up developers writing new applications. Ideally, its customers will deploy many instances of a few base VMs, following the patterns of Zynga and Netflix.

So welcome, Google, to the IaaS market – it’s great to see some well-financed competition for AWS in the raw VM segment. I really hope Google is serious about its offering given the limited success of Google App Engine, and because I wonder about Google’s motivation. Why do developers matter when Google makes almost all its revenue from ads? I expect it’s because developers write apps that collect and generate data. Google’s raft of free services from Gmail to Maps to Android exist to feed data and eyeballs (that is, you and me) into its ad algorithms, and 3rd party apps offer another way to do that. Those new Google glasses and tablets are going to generate all kinds of monetizable big data.

The announcement, along with the Glasses and Nexus tablet, highlight the importance of “big data”, the New Black of batch processing. VMware announced its Serengeti initiative a few weeks ago, which makes it far easier to deploy Hadoop onto virtualized infrastructures (i.e., clouds) of all kinds. My colleague Dave McCrory also launched datagravity.org this week, which explores the idea that computing must move closer to the data, not the reverse. vCloud provider NYSE Technologies is the embodiment of this approach with its capital markets cloud, designed to bring those apps closer to their exchanges.

When it comes to application gravity –- the inability to leave behind the apps you already have — there are now more than 125 certified public vClouds in 26 countries. It is the world’s largest cloud ecosystem, and all of them offer the same vCloud API, and compatibility with the applications you already have. It also offers me the opportunity to end on a high note: the most recent vCloud customer success story, over at Another VMware Cloud, is the non-partisan, non-profit National Democratic Institute (NDI). For the growing number of you who have ditched your dictators and need to organize political parties and hold free and fair elections, NDI can help faster, cheaper and with less interference (far more resistant to cyber attacks) because it runs on a VMware vCloud. Check out the video interview at http://www.vmware.com/anothervmwarecloud and their work at www.ndi.org.

 

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

The future of cloud, part 2: Harris trusted enterprise cloud

Today at VMworld, Harris Corporation announced their Trusted Enterprise Cloud as a VMware vCloud® Powered service offering for federal and enterprise customers based on best of breed technologies, including VMware vCloud® Director. Perhaps the most interesting part of this is the strong differentiation that Harris has built into its cloud infrastructure that makes it a particularly good fit for this customer base. 

There are echoes here of NYSE Euronext’s capital markets approach – both are far from “generic” or “commodity” cloud services. They are clouds specifically designed and operated to solve mission-critical customer needs. Harris is way out in front of some recent announcements that are nothing more than “same old cloud, new building”, marketed as “Now for government use.” You’ve heard of “CloudWashing” – maybe the term for this is “GovCloudWashing?”

So what’s the secret sauce? Harris set out to comprehensively answer the question “What makes a cloud trusted?” There are three components to this – the physical and logical integrity of the cloud itself, the methods and procedures to operate it, and the people who run the cloud. There’s a lot of meat to this, and Chuck Hollis’ blog goes into more detail – I want to focus on Harris’ innovation in the cloud infrastructure layer.

All of the Trusted Cloud hardware components are positively verified to be as the manufacturer intended, with tracking from the source. There’s no room for (say) buying the cheapest “white box” server board of unknown origin in a trusted cloud, because that can compromise the integrity of the overall system. If you think this is far-fetched, consider that everything from NAS arrays to iPods have arrived in the hands of customers pre-loaded with malicious code in the past few years. Then there’s the growing market in counterfeit networking, storage and server spares (by May 2010, US authorities had made more than 700 seizures of counterfeit Cisco gear — more than 94,000 network devices in total). 

Secondly, Harris has developed an innovative white-listing approach to verify the integrity of code and configurations that run on the cloud. Traditional anti-virus systems use black-listing – known malicious code is identified through signatures and blocked. The challenge has been the deliberately massive proliferation of malicious code variants, and techniques like code mutation designed to defeat signatures. White listing is the reverse – only known good code and configurations (those with a signature on the “white list”) are allowed. By definition, malicious code, regardless of how it mutates or disguises itself, cannot run because it doesn’t have a valid signature.

The challenge with white-listing is ensuring you have 100% of the required signatures to allow the system to run, given the sheer number of variations of bona fide code and configurations. Through its acquisition of SignaCert in 2010, Harris has assembled a database of code and configuration signatures for over 3 billion software objects from more than 2,000 vendors. Harris has four patents on this technology and has embedded it in their Trusted Enterprise Cloud service.

This is another strike against the “cloud monoculture” viewpoint: to be relevant to a particular market segment, a cloud must deliver more than on-demand VMs; it must also solve key infrastructure challenges that distract organizations from their marketplace or mission. For many, including Federal government agencies, assuring a secure cloud platform is a great example of something that Trusted Enterprise Cloud solves effectively, and is what distinguishes it from “same basic cloud, shiny new label” offerings.

 

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

Three types of applications that are best suited for the Private Cloud

I had an experience recently that helped me understand how
companies should think about deploying Private Clouds in their organizations.

I went to my local bank branch to deposit a check I had
received.  As I was about to enter the teller
line, a bank employee asked me if I had used their new ATM station that
supported automated check deposits.  She walked
me outside and trained me on how I could make my deposit without having to talk
to a bank teller.

How brilliant was that! 
The bank had come up with a cost-effective way to service my request through
standardization and automation!  But to
do this, they must have identified which types of requests could be serviced
through the ATM and which ones would still be best served by the teller.

One of the questions we at VMware get a lot is, “If I want
to take advantage of the rapid provisioning and self-service capabilities of a
Private Cloud, what types of applications would benefit most from this model?”

We’ve found from the customers we’ve talked to that 3 types
of applications tend to be the best suited for the Private Cloud:

  • Transient apps – applications that will be
    rapidly cloned or re-allocated, like stage or pre-production environment, are great candidates for automation since there’s very little configuration differences between environments.
  • Elastic apps – applications where the resource demand will vary greatly over time, like with scientific computation, are also good choices since resource capacity can be extended very easily
  • The “Long Tail” of apps – applications that never get prioritized by IT, like a customized web farm for an extranet, are also a great fit since a Private Cloud may
    finally allow these applications to be provisioned at a cost that justifies
    their relatively smaller value.

Of course, there’s no reason to lose focus on virtualizing
all of your business-critical applications to get the benefits of higher
utilization and lower cost.

But as IT thinks about shifting specific workloads to the
Private Cloud to reduce costs and improve service, much like my bank shifted my
request to the ATM, these types of applications are a perfect place to start.  If your organization has applications that
are transient, elastic, or considered “long tail,” I’d recommend accelerating
your virtualization efforts with these apps and starting a dialogue with users
about moving to a self-service Private Cloud model.  In future posts, I’ll talk more specifically about
how customers have actually gone about evolving virtualized architecture into
Private Clouds and what types of learning and practice they gained in the
process.