VMware peddles IT-as-a-service to cloud customers

Virtualization software vendor unveils slew of offerings to target cloud computing on three levels--infrastructure, app and end-user computing--with aim to change workers' IT consumption patterns, reveals exec.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor on

VMware is targeting three levels of the cloud computing ecosystem--infrastructure, app and end-user computing--to change the way workers make use of IT and their data centers, or IT-as-a-service, according to a company executive.

Bogomil Balkansky, vice president of product marketing for VMware's virtualization and cloud platforms, said the virtualization software vendor has seen the cloud computing industry mature, backed by the fact that "there [were] more virtual machines than physical servers in 2009".

So, to capitalize on the maturing market, the company wants to push "IT-as-a-service" to optimize IT services provided and consumed among its enterprise customers, he noted at a press briefing Tuesday. This way, companies get to enjoy cost savings, agility and faster business responses in a rapidly changing market landscape, he added.

Elaborating on the IT-as-a-service strategy, the VMware executive pointed out that this would impact three layers of the cloud compute ecosystem, which are the infrastructure, application development and end-user computing layers.

Bridging cloud environments
At the infrastructure level, the company has introduced its vCloud Director, which, according to Balkansky, will allow companies to bridge their private cloud networks to public cloud services offered by companies such as Amazon Web Services and Salesforce.com.

The vCloud Director will let enterprise users create a hybrid cloud environment in which resources and data can flow from private cloud environments to the public cloud without hassle, he added.

He also said that IT managers can make use of better resource pooling capabilities to create "virtual data centers". These centers aim to spur self-provisioning among business users, as workers can now define the amount of compute resources they need for individual projects, he noted.

"Through these virtual data centers, enterprises can now set up chargeback [mechanisms] for individual business groups based on the amount of resources they utilize," Balkansky said.

VMware is also embarking on offering security technologies to its customers "for the first time" through its vShield line of products, the executive said.

"vShield is leveraging the introspection layer in the hypervisor to deliver better-than-physical security" for its virtual data centers. This will allow the data centers to be moved about across physical servers without worrying about compliance or security issues, Balkansky pointed out.

Furthermore, customers can make use of the vShield Manager management pane to have a comprehensive view of their security portfolio deployed across vCloud Datacenters, he added.

Boosting cloud credibility
Improving the mobility of information within virtual environments aside, VMware will also look to certify businesses that submit their data centers for inspection, the executive noted.

He said that this is aimed at enterprise customers as well as service providers such as Singapore-based telco Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), and that the virtualization vendor will help these organizations develop "capability, competence and coverage" using its vSphere cloud operating system (OS).

Balkansky said the company will "openly share" the design, architecture and technical intellectual property used to implement vCloud Datacenter-certified infrastructure. There will also be competency training and professional services to help organizations know how to maintain their systems and to better market their services once the cloud system goes operational, he added.

For instance, he said that SingTel has enlisted the help of VMware for its cloud services, and one of the main benefits the telco will reap is that it will "gain access to an enterprise customer market that knows and trusts the vCloud Datacenter service model, and port its applications between cloud [environments] without [modifications]".

As for application development, Balkansky said the company's ThinApp 4.6 is designed to enable apps to run on various OSes without having to modify or redevelop apps according to different platforms.

With the ThinApp software, developers and IT managers will be able to simplify their app environment by "encapsulating applications into a single package" that can be deployed, managed and updated independently from the OS, he said. This will help reduce the cost and complexity of app delivery for customers, the executive noted.

Bettering end-user experience
VMware is also looking to improve the end-user computing experience by providing offline access to virtualized desktops, he said.

With the company's View 4.5 software, mobile workers can now work on-the-go without being connected as all changes made offline will be captured by backend servers linked to the virtualized desktops. Once employees login to their desktops, the changes will be reflected accordingly, explained Balkansky.

He noted that this synchronization is "not trivial to do" and the company has been in "experimental mode" since last year before introducing this new version of the product.

When quizzed on sales expectations, the vice president did not reply directly. Instead, he pointed out that the company's customer base in Asia-Pacific grew 55 percent to more than 15,000 during the 12 months to June 2010.

"At this rate, we will double the size of our customer base every two years," said Balkansky. "We expect this growth to be led by the strong adoption of cloud infrastructure in Asia-Pacific across both [the] private enterprise clouds and public clouds run by service providers."

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