VMware unveils 'complete' cloud infrastructure suite

New vSphere 5 platform builds on company's IT-as-a-service strategy and offers quicker virtual machine provisioning, "intelligent" policy management and better security for apps running in virtual environments, execs say.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

SINGAPORE--Virtualization giant VMware unveiled Wednesday its "complete" cloud infrastructure suite built upon its new vSphere 5 operating system (OS) as it continues to build out its IT-as-a-service roadmap, said company executives.

Steven Gross, product manager at VMware Asia-Pacific, said the suite of products were introduced to address three customer "pain points" and hence offer organizations the ability to deploy business critical applications with confidence; agility to respond to business needs on time; and trust in the cloud computing systems they deploy. The executive was in the city-state to announce the global launch of the latest vSphere OS, as well as other products such as vShield 5, vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5 and vCloud Director 1.5.

Elaborating, he said vSphere 5 will support virtual machines (VMs) that are up to four times more powerful than previously possible with up to 1 terabyte of memory and 32 virtual CPUs. These VMs, in turn, will be able to process more than 1 million IOPS (input/output operations per second), which will "far surpass" the requirements of even the most resource-intensive applications. In other words, one VM will now be able to run two million transactions per day, the executive noted.

Additionally, companies will be able to automate the deployment of a virtualized server with all the necessary configurations and policy management parameters in 10 minutes. In contrast, it takes at least 30 minutes to run the software from a CD, configure and live a physical server, Gross said.

Putting the product announcements in context, Geoff Kelly, head of communications for VMware Asia-Pacific and Japan, noted that these cloud infrastructure-based products leverage its expertise in virtualization. The executive, who also also present at the briefing, said these products represent another piece of the puzzle as the company realizes the IT-as-a-service future it first unveiled last year.

VMware said in August 2010 that IT-as-a-service would optimize IT services delivered and consumed by its enterprise customers as well as offer cost savings, agility and faster business responses in a rapidly changing market landscape. IT-as-a-service would impact three layers of the cloud compute ecosystem: infrastructure, application development and end-user computing layers, the company said at that time.

Customers eye quick deployment benefits
One customer who was present at the Wednesday briefing pointed to quicker deployment of VMs and provisioning of IT resources to its stakeholders as the key reason for signing up with VMware.

Tan Hoon Chiang, CIO of Singapore's National Institute of Education (NIE), said it used to take one week to provision the physical servers deployed in its research data center. In addition, the organization achieved a server utilization rate of only about 20 percent.

By implementing VMware's technologies to virtualize its data center, though, Tan reported that delivery of IT resources to researchers was "faster" and could even be automated.

"The research time for a project is typically one to two years and any delay for the delivery of IT resources might jeopardize the success of the research," he explained. "This is why having a self-service portal for researchers to sign up for their required resources via vCloud Director helps solve this challenge and there's no need for my IT staff to be around when they provision either."

According to VMware, the vCloud Director 1.5 with Linked Clone capability will reduce provisioning time to as short as 5 seconds and also reduce storage costs by as much as 60 percent. Users can also manage the pool of IT resources via a "single pane of glass" management interface, it added.

Gross stressed that no other provider boasts such a complete cloud infrastructure suite. According to him, competitor virtualization products, specifically hypervisors, are not as optimized and lightweight as its ESX. Their hypervisors, he said, tend to be linked to "general purpose" operating systems such as Microsoft's Windows Server 2008, and these have "lots of lines of code" with no relevance to virtualization.

Windows Server, for example, has Internet Explorer (IE) included in it and whenever Microsoft releases an IE patch companies would have to run the update, which "doesn't make any sense", Gross pointed out.

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