VMware Shoots for IT as a Service With Cloud OS

VMware is launching what it bills as the first operating system that has been developed specifically for cloud computing. Called “vSphere 4,” the virtualization platform pools and then manages an enterprise’s virtual infrastructure and computing resources in its data center.

VMware has previewed some of this functionality in various products — namely its Virtual Datacenter Operating System. However, the enhancements to vSphere 4 promise to dwarf the benefits that companies have realized with its earlier-gen products.

With this release, VMware is leveraging the huge interest that has sprung up around cloud computing — both as internal enterprise initiatives and through offerings rolled out by service providers. vSphere can be deployed in both settings, with the end goal a vastly improved cloud operation.

vSphere 4 “allows the customer to transform their internal data centers into internal clouds,” John Gilmartin, director of product marketing for VMware, told TechNewsWorld.

The March to IT as a Service

Internal, or private, clouds are part of a larger continuum — the evolution of cloud computing toward the IT as a Service model, according to Gilmartin.

“That is the goal for most companies,” he said, “but they are finding they have to rewrite their applications completely to work in the cloud environment.”

Enter vSphere 4, which aggregates and manages large pools of infrastructure such as processors, storage and networking. Applications — from on-premise legacy enterprise systems to Web-based programs — thus run more efficiently and with guaranteed service levels, the company said.

All together, VMware vSphere 4 can pool up to 32 physical servers with up to 2,048 processor cores; 1,280 virtual machines; 32 TB of RAM; 16 petabytes of storage and 8,000 network ports.

Cost Savings

Perhaps the biggest selling point about vSphere 4 is the huge savings it claims to offer.

“vSphere delivers amazing benefits around efficiency,” Gilmartin said. “A customer can save (US)$2 million over a three-year period for 1,000 applications.”

In some cases, customers can decrease capital and computing operating costs by as much as 60 percent to 70 percent, according to the company. The savings are realized by the dramatically decreased infrastructure costs per application.

With vSphere 4, VMware significantly improves platform performance and scalability over its earlier applications, allowing for twice as many virtual processors per virtual machine (from four to eight). It also offers

  • two-and-a-half times more virtual NICs per virtual machine (from 4 to 10);
  • four times more memory per virtual machine (from 64 GB to 255 GB);
  • an increase in network throughput from 9 Gb/s to 30 Gb/s; a three-fold increase in the maximum recorded I/O operations per second — to over 300,000;
  • a new maximum recorded number of transactions per second — 8,900 — or five times the total payment traffic of the VISA network worldwide; and
  • targeted performance improvements for specific applications include an estimated 50 percent improved performance for application development workloads and an estimated 30 percent improved performance for Citrix XenApp.

Executing on a Vision

vSphere 4’s claims of efficiency and saving and ease of use dovetail with growing demands for the same in the IT community, Bernard Golden, founder of Hyper Stratus, told TechNewsWorld.

“The new benchmarks we are reaching for now are cloud providers like Amazon in terms of ease of use and lack of barriers to getting started with a system,” he explained.

It is similar to demands by consumers for easy-to-use digital media players after the iPod burst on the scene several years ago, added Golden.

VMware is trying to capture that ease of use by automating many of the underlying processes and, of course, virtualization, he said.

There will need to be more deployments before it can be judged that VMware has reached its goal, Golden concluded. “That is always the problem with IT. The vision is great, but getting to it is a lot of work.”

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