At the VMworld 2011 conference this week, VMware will launch a number of new products and services aimed at enterprises running a hybrid mix of private and public cloud computing resources. The offerings include partnerships with global cloud service providers, a Web site that aggregates information on providers, simplified transfer of virtual machines from one data center to another, a cloud-based site recovery manager tool, and software to manage databases in virtual environments.
While companies including Salesforce.com continue to preach that private cloud is a false notion, VMware's new offerings represent a further statement by VMware that its enterprise customers see the value of both the public and private cloud options. Many enterprises using such a mix want to maintain their existing IT investment in a private, secure on-premise cloud, but also see the value of accessing extra compute capacity in a public cloud, especially for disaster recovery.
These introductions place VMware "squarely in the front of the pack for enterprise cloud strategies," said Dave Bartoletti a senior analyst with The Taneja Group. "VMware will power cloud services offered by providers ... and will give Amazon and Microsoft a run for their money."
To be unveiled Monday at VMworld in Las Vegas is Global Connect, a partnership between VMware and four global vCloud Datacenter service providers: Bluelock in North America; Colt in Europe; Softbank in Japan; and SingTel in the Asia-Pacific region. A contract that any enterprise makes with one of the four is honored by all of them, said Mathew Lodge, senior director of cloud services at VMware.
A company may access the Bluelock cloud to serve its U.S. customers but may also want to access the SingTel cloud in Singapore to serve its Asian customers, Lodge explained.
"You don't have to get a new contract with SingTel to do that, you can do that through your existing contract with Bluelock. You have one contract with several providers, so it appears as one global cloud," he said.
A company may also want to access the Colt cloud in Europe because European Union regulations restrict movement of customer data beyond EU borders, Lodge added.
Enterprises can also move virtual machines from their data center to a cloud, or between clouds, with vCloud Connector 1.5, an update of Connector 1.0 introduced earlier this year. A public beta version is being released this week. Enhancements in 1.5 over 1.0 include faster transfers in which multiple VMs are moved in parallel. Also, if a connection is lost because of network congestion or other trouble, the transfer process picks up right where it left off when the connection is restored.
Version 1.5 also offers Web access to the connector, so an administrator can make transfers from anywhere through any Web browser, including on a smartphone or tablet computer. Connector 1.0 was only a plug-in to the vSphere management console.
Enterprises can also shop for vCloud service providers online at a new VMware Web portal, where they can obtain information on any of 48 certified vCloud providers or sign up for a free trial.
VMware Tackles Storage Backup Issues
Also being unveiled this week is vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5 for backup and disaster recovery in a cloud environment. This update resolves a major customer problem with storage backup, Lodge explained.
"They couldn't replicate their storage very easily to a cloud service provider, because you have to have exactly the same storage hardware in your own data center as the service provider has using array-based replication. So that was fairly limiting for a lot of our customers," he said. Version 5 now enables replication "to dissimilar hardware."
Disaster recovery (DR) in a cloud environment can save enterprises a considerable amount of money compared to maintaining their own physical backup site, said Jeff Byrne, a senior analyst also with The Taneja Group.
These cloud enhancements should make enterprises more willing to move IT resources to a public cloud, Byrne added, noting, for instance, that service providers in the Global Connect program "must complete a rigorous certification program" before they can join. The vCloud portal provides a one-stop shop for service providers and the Site Recovery Manager should be reliable, Byrne said.
"Taken together, I believe these new capabilities will help increase users' confidence in VMware public clouds," Byrne said.
VMware is also introducing vFabric Data Director at VMworld, software that helps enterprise applications access the vast amounts of data in a cloud environment. Data Director is designed for today's applications that are delivered to mobile devices, through social media or in a software-as-a-service manner, said David McJannet, VMware's director of cloud and application services.
"Many of the processes around database deployment and backup and recovery are very manual today and with virtualization, there is a very elegant combination of the technologies that allows you to use virtualization to automate some of those very manual tasks," McJannet said.