VMware Tuesday used the VMworld Europe 2009 conference to unveil its first concrete steps in building a cloud computing architecture and take a swipe at Microsoft's and Google's cloud computing initiatives.
VMware first introduced its cloud computing initiative in September at the VMworld 2008 conference. Since then, the company has built technology to allow virtualization of compute resources across both a company's internal cloud as well as what it hopes will a series of external clouds all using the same VMware-designed interface, said Dan Chu, vice president of emerging products and market for VMware.
VMware is also building a partner ecosystem of service providers that will use that common interface, allowing customers to pick and choose which providers are best for specific applications, Chu said. Rather than being locked into their own private internal compute cloud or a specific external cloud, businesses in the future will require a "virtual private cloud" that lets them be indifferent to where they access a required application, Chu said.
"We are enabling service providers to provide the external clouds, and to federate them with customers' internal clouds," he said. "Cloud providers include managed hosting providers, telcos, systems integrators and VARs. Most of them don't have an army of developers like Microsoft and Google do, but they do have the customer relationships and customer trust."
The difference between VMware's initiatives and those of competitors Microsoft and Google is that VMware is providing technology to enable customers and service providers to get to the cloud while others want to control it for themselves, Chu said.
"We want to be the enablers of the cloud," he said. "We think it's more productive to align with customers' trusted service providers."
Key to the initiative is the ability for customers to be able to work in internal and external clouds with their existing applications, Chu said.
"Microsoft and Google require customers to rewrite applications for the cloud," he said. "VMware doesn't require rewriting or rearchitecting applications to run in the clouds."
To make this happen, VMware plans to release the first version of its Virtual Datacenter OS, or VDC-OS, later this year. The VDC-OS is a software platform that aggregates servers, storage and networking to allow compute capacity to be delivered as an internal cloud, Chu said.
The initial release will allow such capabilities as chargeback, configuration management and a self-service portal that will allow customers to build a new service in minutes from their existing internal compute infrastructure, Chu said.
"Before, we were more fuzzy about what's real," he said. "Now we're talking about what will be available in 2009."
VMware is also preparing to release vCloud technology aimed at making internal and external clouds work together seamlessly, Chu said. This includes the planned release of a vCloud API to allow customers to work with multiple service providers.
At VMworld Europe, VMware is showing that is already working with more than 400 service providers to offer services through vCloud. Some of these service providers include Terremark and SAVVIS, which provide a pool of compute resources that can be configured and provisioned dynamically; SunGard, which uses realtime replication to offer disaster recovery as a service; and Logica, which offers a fully managed test and development infrastructure based on VMware's Lab Manager.
The vCloud API also allows customers access to resources across both their internal clouds and in multiple external cloud providers, Chu said.
"The vCloud API enables interoperability between clouds," he said. "Before, there were proprietary clouds. But customers need the choice to move across clouds, and to know they are completely compatible with their own internal clouds."
The vCloud API is currently in private beta testing, and will be submitted to the Distributed Management Task Force as a standard for cloud computing, Chu said. The DMTF president is a VMware employee, he said.
Also coming this year is the VI Client, a management application that will allow customers to manage the virtual resources in their internal and external clouds, Chu said.