VMware Assembles Tech Heavyweights For Cloud Computing

VMware, which Monday unveiled initiatives Tuesday to expand on its server virtualization technology with plans to build a cloud computing and virtual data center architecture, unveiled technology agreements with some of the top IT vendors to help advance those plans.

Paul Maritz, VMware president and CEO, told a packed audience of customers and partners at the VMworld 2008 conference that his company has to build a partner ecosystem in order for its plans to succeed.

"This is a platform," Maritz said. "And platforms only exist with a base of partners."

During his keynote, Maritz introduced a number of those partnerships.

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On the hardware side, Maritz said that Intel's new Xeon 7400 family of processors, formerly known as Dunnington, include FlexMigration technology jointly developed with VMware. FlexMigration is aimed at allowing virtual machines created with VMware's ESX technology to easily migrate between host servers.

More specifically, FlexMigration is aimed at making VMware's VMotion function, which handles the migration of a virtual machine from one server to another, to work reliably regardless of which revision of the processor is being used, a task that currently is not always a simple task, Maritz said.

For storage, Maritz said VMware and several storage vendors are collaborating on disaster recovery between physical and virtual data centers. Those storage vendors include 3Par, Compellent, Dell/EqualLogic, EMC, FalconStor, Hewlett-Packard, Hitachi, IBM, LeftHand Networks, NetApp, and Xiotech.

VMware and Cisco on Tuesday also unveiled a new networking switch which will eventually be embedded in VMware's ESX technology to allow users to manage virtual server connectivity using the same tools they currently use to manage physical servers.

That switch, the Cisco Nexus 1000V distributed virtual software switch, is aimed at simplifying the operations of both physical and virtual networking infrastructures by extending Cisco's security, policy enforcement, automated provisioning, and diagnostics tools into VMware-based virtual data centers, said Soni Jiandari, vice president of marketing for Cisco's Server Access and Virtualization Business Unit.

With the Nexus 1000V, customers can ensure that any security policies related to a virtual machine follows the VM across physical ports, Jiandari said. It also correlates traffic from multiple VMs across physical links.

Jiandari said that as customers adopt virtual data center infrastructures, it is important for them to be able to use the same tools to handle both virtual and physical data centers.

Towards that end, Cisco on Tuesday also unveiled its Virtual Network Link, or VN-Link, technology that will be embedded in its operating system for its Nexus 1000V software switch, its Catalyst IP switches, and its MDS storage networking switches, Jiandari said.

Jiandari said that, because of the joint development with VMware, competing switch vendors will be "challenged" to compete with Cisco in the virtual data center.

However, Brian Byun, vice president of global partners and solutions at VMware, said that he expects any switch vendor to be able to participate.

Instead, Byun said, VMware chose to work with Cisco as the first switch vendor to collaborate on switches for virtual data centers because a lot of collaboration is needed on such an initiative. "You can really do it with only one partner at a time," he said. "We will be open to working with other partners."

Cisco and VMware are also working together to take the new VN-Link technology to the IEEE as part of a move to turn it into an industry standard, Jiandari said.

The Nexus 1000V is expected to be available in the first half of 2009, with pricing to be determined.

VMware is also collaborating with management framework vendors such as BMC, IBM, and CA on ensuring that those frameworks work the same in both physical and virtual data centers, Maritz said.

On the security side, VMware is collaborating with such vendors as Checkpoint, IBM, McAfee, Radware, Symantec, and TrendMicro to work with its vSafe virtual data center security technology.

Over 100 service providers, including BT, Rackspace, SAVVIS, Sungard, T-Systems, and Verizon Business, are partnering with VMware to bring customers to cloud computing with VMware's new vCloud initiative.