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VMWorld VMware is introducing a new vSphere architecture and management product to manage a data centre as an internal or external cloud of services.

The idea, introduced by VMware CEO Paul Maritz at VMworld in Cannes, is to have a set of interfaces looking downwards at the IT plumbing and another set looking at the applications.There is a vCompute interface to look at the compute resources and see what is available and provision them. A vStorage layer gets told by storage resources - the arrays for example - what they can do, such as block copy or deduplication. Then vSphere admin staff, and ultimately users themselves, can provision storage resources.

A vNetwork layer does the same thing for networks. The vSphere architecture also provides a point of insertion, as Maritz would have it, for policies relating to security, availability and scalability. It enables data protection and clustering for availability, firewalls, anti-virus and compliance for security.

In general IT resources are treated as things to scale up or down as required operationally.

The vSphere product will be able to trace every instruction executed on every server in the data centre, providing an extremely granular record for security purposes and also, eventually, for billing purposes as VMware will add billing hooks to vSphere.

VMware sees no difference between internal and external clouds and wants to encourage federation between them with vSphere being used inside companies and also by external service providers so that the decision by a business to use its internal cloud or an external one is an operational decision.

The external cloud can be used to provide resource for extreme IT loads that are beyond the internal cloud's capabilities with multi-tenancy keeping a customer's workload separate from other customers.

One implication is that it might even be possible to move VMs between internal and external clouds.

Maritz said there should be an open eco-system of cloud providers rather than private and incompatible clouds. VMware will start to work with standards bodies to try and avoid the emergence of massive proprietary uber-clouds.

Client-side

VMware is also working with Intel to integrate its client-side bare-metal hypervisor with Intel's vPro technology so that hypervisor and processor can work together to verify that a virtual machine environment downloaded to the client device is the right one, and also to enforce separation between VMs and help prevent malware.

VMware's virtual desktop infrastructure will support various types of client end-points, such as thin clients, rich desktops and notebooks. Users at these devices will be authenticated and the correct environment downloaded to them, even to an internet-connected notebook if the connection enables it. Desktop and notebook devices will have their data made available to them with any local changes sent back to the centre so that users can re-connect to this virtual desktop cloud with the same or different devices and work with the same data.

If their end-point device crashes they re-connect with a new one and resume working with no or minimal data loss. The ideal here is for users to bring their own end-point devices and have them treated by VMware in the same way as cell phones are by a service provider.

VMware reckons it will dramatically improve the performance of its thin client software with accelerated protocols. It also reckons there is a phenomenal opportunity for deduplicating desktop images. Admin staff will manage templates and not individual images. The templates will enable a few administrators to manage thousands if not tens of thousands of actual images with the actual image required by a user built from different elements according to the template.

The VMware spider

The over-arching Maritz view is that virtualisation enables the creation of a giant software mainframe with management at the service level and not at the plumbing level. It also means that everything in the data centre - servers, storage and networking - and at the end-points of the web of connections it controls is a virtual data centre OS co-operating and managed resource. Everything dances to VMware' VDOS tune and VDOS becomes a massive controlling spider, hyper-vising at the data centre level.

In a breath-taking vSphere vision a whole era of distributed and independent computing is coming to an end in VMware data shops as the software mainframe hands control back to the centre.

Paul Maritz, a man who helped spread the distributed computing gospel while at Microsoft, is now hoping to destroy it in the name of efficiency, utilisation, control and cost-saving. ®

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