While VMware is best known for virtualization technologies, the company is making a significant push into cloud services by enabling service providers to run VMware products and seamlessly integrate with enterprise installations. It’s a fairly targeted move that counters other initiatives like OpenStack, which is an open source alternative being developed for public and cloud providers. VMware's announcements aren’t as big as July’s vSphere 5 announcements, with the focus more on enabling hybrid clouds between service providers and VMware vSphere customers.
VMware’s vCloud.vmware.com is a portal that allows administrators to find, research and test-drive vCloud based services from a web UI and continues VMware’s services for finding VMware products, such as pre-packaged VM and integrated products that augment VMware’s product line. Administrators can even push workload into the cloud provider using the web client or vCloud Connector 1.5, which provides a management plug-in to vSphere and vCloud.vmware.com. This allows administrators to manage and transfer workloads between vSphere clusters and separate clusters, or to and from a vCloud service provider. The improvements center on speeding up transfers with parallel transfers and auto-restart in the case of a connection failure.
Global Connect is a partner program that defines the characteristics and capabilities needed to allow service providers to run each other's workloads. Global Connect doesn’t define the business relationships that govern which providers will integrate—there is no requirement for all providers to integrate. Rather, Global Connect defines the technical specifications. Global Connect supports three use offerings: a pay-per-use model, much like utility computing, dedicated instances where customer VMs are isolated from each other on dedicated hardware, and a reservation model where capacity can be reserved for future use.
The program defines the interfaces and features that must be present to transfer workloads among providers; offers service level agreements to ensure adequate uptime; in the case of the reservation model, ensures that enough resources are available to support the reservations; and provides audit capabilities supporting ISO 29001 and SAS-70 Type 1-2 audits. SLAs around features like interprovider transfer times have not been defined, but are being considered for the program. The first service providers in the program--BlueLock, Colt, SingTel and Softbank--are members of the Cloud Federation Alliance.
Global Connect gives smaller, regional VMware-based service providers the ability to extend reach and capabilities without having to invest in data centers globally. Participating cloud providers have to ensure that their service offerings comply with their customer geographic requirements when moving workloads, but the location of the workloads is seamless. Cloud customers interact only with their chosen cloud provider. Such a relationship might put competitive pressure on global cloud providers.
VMware is also announcing DR to the Cloud, which is a disaster recovery service utilizing vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5, announced in July. SRM allows companies to replicate VMs and data from their data center to a cloud provider also running VMware products, and then manages the fail-over and fail-back functions in the event an outage occurs. Admins can even test their DR processes to ensure they work properly.
DR to the Cloud, much like Global Connect, provides the technical substrate for providers to become DR sites, but pricing and service models are left up to the providers to define. Organizations that don’t have storage replication can use vSphere’s replication capabilities to move data regardless of the underlying storage systems. "It makes a lot of sense for small to medium businesses, but it’s only going to scale so far. It’s host-based replication: If you have many vSphere hosts, you have to set-up the pairs and you don’t get to prioritize which VMs get replicated first," says Howard Marks, chief scientist with Deep Storage and a Network Computing contributing editor. FusionStorm, Hosting.com, iLand Cloud Infrastructure and Veristor are the first DR to the Cloud providers.
See more on this topic by subscribing to Network Computing Pro Reports IT Pro Impact: VMware/vSphere 5 (subscription required). Mike Fratto is a principal analyst at Current Analysis, covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets. Prior to that, Mike was with UBM Tech for 15 years, and served as editor of Network Computing. He was also lead analyst for InformationWeek Analytics ... View Full Bio