VMware unfurls fresh Spring Java 'vFabric'

Priced by the VM

For Sale sign detail

VMware has unveiled a new version of its vFabric platform, a collection of software tools for building, deploying, and running SpringSource Java applications atop VMware hypervisors.

Dubbed vFabric 5, the platform offers a new incarnation of the SpringSource tc server designed to improve memory management for Java applications run across vSphere virtual machines, and it includes a bevy of other app development tools – many stewarded by open source outfits acquired by VMware – such as RabbitMQ messaging, GemFire distributed data management, and the Hypernic performance management.

The entire platform is now licensed according to the average number of virtual machines it runs on. That's VMs, not CPUs. VMware offers a vFabric Standard edition for $1,200 per VM (based on your average VM usage over the previously 12 months), and an Advanced edition for $1,800 per VM.

"We are really the first vendor of application infrastructure to price on a per-VM basis," vFabric director of marketing David McJannet tells The Register. "The reality is that at 9 o'clock in the morning, your infrastructure might be running on two CPUs, but as usage peaks during the day, you might be running on 16 CPUs. The VM-approach [to pricing] is more aligned to this reality."

The new platform will be generally available in "late summer".

The new SpringSource tc server – now known as vFabric tc server – offers what VMware calls Elastic Memory for Java, or EM4J. VMware has a penchant for cute names. In short, the new tc server uses memory-ballooning with the Java Virtual Machine, letting you – according to the company - run more instances on a single vSphere host. These optimizations are specific to vSphere.

vFabric 5 also includes what's called Spring Insight Operations – a version of the free Spring Insight tool used to visually monitor application performance – and it offers a customized version of the Apache web server.

All the various pieces of vFabric fall under the same licensing scheme. You can deploy any component on a virtual machine for the same per-VM price. The $1,200 vFabric Standard Edition includes the tc server, the web server, SpringSource Insight Operations, and GemFire. The $1,800 Advanced edition also includes RabbitMQ and SQLFire, an SQL interface for GemFire that's currently in beta. With SQLFire, the idea is to make it easier for the average developer to incorporate in-memory data into their applications.

vFabric is separate from VMware's new Cloud Foundry "platform cloud". Akin to Google App Engine or Microsoft Azure, Cloud Foundry is an online service for building and hosting applications built with Scala, Ruby on Rails, the Ruby framework Sinatra, and Node.js as well as Java, and VMware has open sourced the software underpinning this beta service.

vFabric is essentially a collection of individual tools that can be mixed and matched as you build applications, and it's meant specifically for use with Spring Java framework and vSphere. Though the platform is based on many services that can run on other hypervisors – there are open source versions of tools such the tc server and RabbitMQ and GemFire – vFabric will run only on vSphere. The tc server is optimized for vSphere, and, well, vSphere is required to measure the number of VMs you're running – which is essential to pricing the platform. ®

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