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VMware creates private clouds for newbies

The software is the hard part

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

VMware is still a pretty young software company in a fairly nascent market and relies on software license and maintenance fees for the bulk of its revenues. But the company wants to get more sales providing services, too, and today announced two offerings that will have VMware's techs come in and puff up your cloud in a jiffy.

VMware has also announced private cloud reference architectures to speed up the process.

With the launch of the vCloud Director fabric for the vSphere 4.1 server virtualization stack announced in August and improved with a self-service portal and capacity management features in October, VMware says it has all of the software that companies need to build private clouds or service providers need to build public clouds.

But just because all of the pieces are there does not mean that IT shops have the time or patience to figure out all of this new code to set up their own private cloud. In most cases, companies are virtualizing on a large scale for the first time, and the issues are complex even if there are analogs to the physical infrastructure that they are used to setting up.

With the vCloud JumpStart service, VMware's techies set up a prototype baby cloud for customers so they can evaluate the capabilities of the vSphere/vCloud Director combo; the resulting setup that VMware's techies create is not intended for a production environment.

"This is really for customers making their first foray into clouds," Matthew Stepanski, vice president of technical services for VMware's cloud practice, told El Reg. "What we found is that customers come in with preconceived notions of what they can do with a cloud, and then what they end up actually doing, based on the capabilities of the software, actually ends up being a lot more broad."

While that may be true, companies are under pressure to get their clouds up fast and get a quick ROI. That's why VMware believes they will shell out cash for a service to get cloudy infrastructure up and running quickly rather than try to figure it out on their own.

Companies that are ready to set up a fairly modest private cloud can pay for the vCloud Accelerator service, the second offering announced today, and hire VMware's propellerheads to come into their shop and set all of the vCloud and vSphere software up and get it huffing and puffing. The stack that VMware sets up typically includes a service catalog, a portal, chargeback, and automation for the cloudy infrastructure. The service includes taking a look at the people and processes currently in place at your IT shop and adapting them to the vCloud Director way.

Neither service includes configuring hardware to run the vSphere and vCloud Director software, however - you have to do that yourself - but there are recommended base hardware configurations for the services.

For the vCloud JumpStart service, VMware recommends companies have two two-socket servers with at least quad-core x64 processors. Each machine will support an ESX hypervisor and needs to be equipped with 64-bit processors and at least 32 GB of main memory. Each machine has to have access to a minimum of 500 GB of shared storage. This setup is intended to support a dozen virtual machines atop the ESX hypervisor.

For the vCloud Accelerator service, you need 16 two-socket, quad-core processors, and each machine has to be equipped with at least 64 GB of main memory. The resulting cluster of virtualized servers is intended to support a few hundred VMs; shared storage requirements will vary by customer. (You can see the details behind the vCloud Accelerator service here in pdf.)

To create the installation processes behind the vCloud Accelerator service, VMware did 25 engagements with corporate customers building their private clouds as well as hosting providers building public clouds.

Both services are available today. The one thing you cannot find out is what the services cost - VMware is not providing pricing, which is self-defeating as far as I am concerned. VMware's professional services group should buck the trend in the services racket and actually provide prices for its products. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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