VMware is building on its server virtualization foundation to develop a cloud computing infrastructure and ecosystem for customers looking to focus less on IT resources and more on their own businesses.
That's the word from VMware President and CEO Paul Maritz, who took the stage Tuesday at the opening keynote presentation at the VMworld 2009 conference, held this week in San Francisco.
Maritz started out by noting that the vast majority of a typical company's IT spending goes toward making sure its IT infrastructure is running well, with relatively little going toward things that make a company more competitive.
"Everything we are doing should be focused on moving that meter, helping [those companies] be more flexible, more productive," he said.
Companies are hungry for a way to move toward cloud computing to provide secure access to scalable, on-demand resources, and that means using virtualization from VMware or another vendor, Maritz said.
"The challenge is, how do we get from where we are today to the promised land? We believe the key factor is virtualization, whether it's from VMware or from another company," he said.
To do so, it must be possible for a company to take an existing application, lift it up and slide in a virtualized component, and take it to any physical or virtual data center, and do so without disrupting current operations, Maritz said.
VMware has been helping customers with this migration with its vSphere 4 virtualization technology, which was officially introduced at the company's VMware Partner Summit in April.
vSphere is the first step toward cloud computing because of the capabilities it offers customers who have adopted virtualization technology, Maritz said.
It offers the ability to turn physical servers on and off in response to power demands, adds such capabilities as thin provisioning to storage and provides enough performance to handle the entire workflow at a company such as Visa with a single cluster, he said.
VMware also has worked with partners to build an ecosystem around vSphere, including Cisco Systems for networking switches that coordinate with applications as they move throughout a virtual infrastructure, Intel for making fault tolerance easy to deploy, security vendors to make sure security policies follow an application and more, he said.
The next step toward the cloud, in VMware's view, is to add management to vSphere with the company's vCenter management application.
vCenter offers three types of management, Maritz said.
At the foundation, it provides virtualization capacity planning, configuration, operations scheduling, and continuity and disaster recovery.
As companies move toward adopting compute clouds, vCenter provides them with self-service capabilities such as the ability to set up service profiles and catalogs of services, a portal for their customers to get their own services on a self-service basis and chargeback systems for services used by those customers.
vCenter also lets companies put their applications on autopilot with such capabilities as application provisioning and application scheduling, Maritz said.
While many of these capabilities have traditionally been focused on enterprise customers, Maritz said VMware is offering them to smaller businesses in a package called vSphere Essentials, which handles the installation and deployment of applications with management, data protection and security starting as low as $166 per processor.
Maritz also unveiled the beta version of VMware Go, a free service that gives small businesses the ability to answer a couple online questions about their virtualization requirements and then remotely helps them deploy free virtual servers in the hope that they will one day become paying customers.
To help companies take advantage of both internal and external computing clouds, VMware has been expanding its vCloud initiative, under which a customer's application can run exactly the same regardless of whether it is in a physical data center or in any public cloud, Maritz said.
"It doesn't matter where the physical resources reside," he said. "The management interface remains the same."
In addition, to make it easy to move any application to any internal or external cloud, vCloud also makes sure customers can seamlessly move their applications out of whichever cloud they are using, Maritz said.
"We have to be careful we don't develop the ultimate Hotel California, where you can check in any application but can never check them out," he said.
To assure customers that they can move their applications at will, Maritz introduced the "VMware Virtualized" logo, which will be displayed by service providers who offer that capability.
Also new from VMware is vCloud Express, which helps developers address various infrastructure and programming needs such as experimentation, prototyping and testing in order to provide on-demand, pay-as-you-go infrastructure that is compatible with internal VMware environments and with VMware virtualized services, Maritz said.
He also introduced the VMware vCloud API, a collection of APIs that allows applications to be written so they can be easily moved between internal and external compute clouds.
Once IT resources and applications are virtualized, the next step is to enable desktop computing as a service across both thin clients and such thick clients as portable PCs, Maritz said.
To that end, VMware is working with Teradici, of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, to develop products that use the PC-over-IP, or PCoIP, protocol. PCoIP, which is aimed at providing a full PC experience while keeping all the IT resources inside the data center for easier management, is being submitted as a standard, Maritz said.
Maritz then discussed VMware's $420 million acquisition of SpringSource, a developer of applications based on open-source technologies
SpringSource leads a number of open-source communities.
These include the Spring Framework, an enterprise Java programming model that VMware said currently supports about half of all enterprise Java projects. The Spring Framework is in use by about 2 million developers worldwide as a lightweight programming environment to make applications portable across open-source and commercial application server environments.
SpringSource also is the key contributor to the Apache Tomcat Java application server environment in use by more than 60 percent of all Java application server users.
The company also leads the Groovy and Grails dynamic language and Web application framework for working with Ruby on Rails while maintaining compatibility with Java virtual machine (JVM) environments.
Maritz said the majority of Java applications currently run on the SpringSource framework, and applications can move seamlessly between the SpringSource and the Grails frameworks.
Maritz also expressed VMware's commitment to keeping SpringSource part of the open source community, including its support of virtual environments other than VMware.
"It's important for developers that we don't cut off choice," he said.
VMware will slide the SpringSource framework into its vSphere technology, making it the foundation of its Platform-as-a-Service initiative for building applications that run in virtualized infrastructures and on the Web, Maritz said.