VMware Upgrades Virtualization Platform, Adds Cloud Infrastructure Suite
VMware today unveiled an upgrade of its flagship virtualization platform, vSphere 5, along with a suite of products aimed at the cloud.
Speaking to reporters and analysts at a live launch event in San Francisco, VMware CTO Stephen Herrod called vSphere 5 the largest integrated software product every launched by the company.
vSphere 5 comes with nearly 200 "new and enhanced capabilities," the company said, but Herrod threw a spotlight on three new features designed to extend the platform's datacenter resource management capabilities for "intelligent policy management": Auto-Deploy, Profile-Driven Storage and Storage DRS. These features support what Herrod called a "set it and forget it" approach to managing datacenter resources. The idea, he said, is for users to define policies and establish operating parameters, and then let vSphere 5 does the rest. He claimed that these three features can save a VMware customer with a 1,000-VM environment up to a year of administrator time.
This version of vSphere also comes with significant performance improvements. Herrod said that it will support VMs with up to a terabyte of memory and 32 virtual CPUs, and will be able to process more than a million I/O operations per second.
"Our engineers have dubbed this a 'monster' VM, because it can handle so many more processors and a terabyte of storage," Herrod said. "Because so many of these virtual machines are now bigger than the physical machines, this is enabling them to run these large and critical workloads, and accelerate the journey to virtualization. We're sort of 'monstering' the data center with vSphere 5."
VMware CEO Paul Maritz told attendees that his company's ultimate goal is "to make infrastructure disappear."
"Virtualized infrastructures are really the new hardware," he said. "You just want to plug it in and make it work."
His company's new cloud infrastructure suite is built on vSphere 5 and combines the vShield 5 security product family, the vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5 disaster recovery solution and the vCloud Director 1.5 provisioning product. The product suite is designed to help VMware customers "accelerate towards more efficient and automated cloud infrastructure, redefining how resources are managed and secured, and ultimately, driving a more productive relationship between IT and the businesses they serve," Maritz said.
"Over the past 13 or 14 years we have seen the emergence of a new platform that is now carrying more than 50 percent of the world's computing load," Maritz said. "More than 50 percent of the world's backend datacenter applications are now running on this relatively new way of delivering infrastructure -- the majority of that on vSphere... We need to continue to accelerate that journey; 50 percent means there's 50 percent to go."
vSphere 5 also comes with a new licensing scheme. Dubbed vRAM, it's based on the amount of physical memory configured to a VM, rather than the physical servers.
Gartner analyst Tom Bittman was on hand at the launch event. He called VMware's new vRAM licensing plan "huge," but warned that it will probably confuse customers at first. "I think people are going to have a hard time getting their tools, their processes—their heads—around this," Bittman said. "People are used to managing their licenses on a per box basis, and this concept of managing licenses via pool is the right thing to do, but it's a new way of thinking about it."
"We've been saying for a quite some time now that pricing and licensing in a virtualized and cloud-based world is going to bring some fundamental changes, and a lot of experimentation. And that's what this is. It's a bold and scary change, but it's probably the right direction."
VMware made these announced on the heels of news that competitor Citrix had completed its acquisition of Cloud.com, a provider of software infrastructure platforms for cloud providers. Citrix has been on a quest to build out its cloud computing product roster. To a question from attendees about this acquisition, Maritz said that companies like Citrix provide only "a slice" of the services VMware provides.
"The end goal from a cloud infrastructure standpoint for VMware," Bittman said, "is to own and manage both the public and private sides of an infrastructure, so that a hybrid world can be enabled. They want to build and own a bridge. And we think that's a logical place to be."