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VMware lets you take vClouds out for a spin

Try and buy in the sky

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VMware wants to make it easier for cloudy infrastructure builders to see how its vCloud stack of software runs their applications, but it doesn't want to be in the cloud business itself.

So, the vendor has teamed up with a hosting firm to tune up a vCloud service evaluation cloud that lets application developers and system administrators take it out for a spin.

Virtacore, a cloud hosting provider based in Virginia, is supplying the white-label vCloud service, which VMware brands and wraps billing and how-to guides around to help admins and app developers give vClouds a go.

The new vCloud try-and-buy service isnot intended for production applications, says Matthew Lodge, vice president of cloud services at the server virtualization juggernaut. So don't go loading up live applications.

The set-up includes VMware's ESXi 5.0 hypervisor running on x86 iron as well as vCloud Director 1.51, the latest iteration of the company's cloud infrastructure control freak that aggregates multiple vCenter management consoles together and orchestrates virtual machines s they flit around a cluster of physical machines.

Test drive

VMware is starting out with a basic VM on the vCloud trial service that has one virtual CPU and 1GB of virtual memory and which costs 4 cents per hour to run tests on. You can dynamically scale each VM up in increments of virtual CPUs and gigabyte memory slices, all the way up to eight vCPUs and 128GB of virtual memory. The pricing does not scale by the vCPUs, but by the vRAM, so if you want to test out a fat memory configuration backed by eight vCPUs, it will cost you $5.12 per hour.

Lodge says pricing merely covers costs and VMware is not making any money on the service. The trial time is unlimited, but the company also requires vCloud test drivers to register for access to the vCloud service so it can control the number of people who hit Virtacore's iron.

Virtacore has excess capacity installed for the test drive and a means to turn on new servers fast, but VMware was caught off guard by a similar trial for the Cloud Foundry Java application framework last year when ten times the expected number showed up looking for test drives. "We expect tens of thousands of people to sign up for the vCloud test, based on our experience with Cloud Foundry," says Lodge.

In addition to running vCloud Director, you can also turn on vCloud Connector and cloud burst running ESXi VMs in your data center out to the test cloud to see how they run.

Host of hosts

VMware is pleased with the ramp of its vCloud wares, but with OpenStack and CloudStack rivals coming on strong, the company cannot rest by the side of the road. Of course, if ii wanted even more tire kickers, it could just take some of the billions of dollars that it did not spend on acquiring network virtualizer Nicira and give away free vCloud test capacity.

VMware now has eight vCloud Datacenter service provider partners, up from four when the program launched two years ago with Verizon, Bluelock, Singtel, and Colt setting up vCloud infrastructure clouds and certifying them with the most stringent tests to be absolutely compatible with any internal vClouds customers set up. Dell, Optus, CSC, and Softbank have joined the program, and T-Systems is about to, which will bring the total to nine.

There is a less stringent vCloud Powered certification program has grown to 145 service providers, who have tested their clouds for compatibility.

Lodge can't disclose revenue figures for individual products but he tells El Reg that the service provider-revenue stream is based on utility pricing, meaning service providers are not charged for vSphere and vCloud licenses until customers fire up VMs on the vClouds. Revenues from SPs for vCloud licenses and support are up more than 180 per cent for the first half of 2012 compared with the first half of 2012, he says. ®

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