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VMware rolls up an integrated cloudy control freak

How vCloud Suite it is

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VMworld 2012 VMware wants to make it simpler for its customers to make the jump from virtualized servers running its ESXi hypervisor to full-on clouds complete with all of the automation, disaster recovery, and other control freakage.

And to that end, in conjunction with the launch of the new ESXi 5.1 hypervisor and add-on vSphere management tools, VMware is bundling up its various cloudy tools that ride atop vSphere into a suite of its own called vCloud Suite, appropriately enough.

vCloud Suite comprises many different tools that VMware has been peddling for some time and the idea behind the system is exactly the same one that has driven myriad software companies to bundle their products.

VMware wants to make it easier to consume its products and have a staged way to move customers from the entry vSphere Essentials server virtualization tools all the way up to vClouds and have not only consistent pricing across the line but also to keep its products in lockstep so customers can upgrade all of the components at once and preferably on an annual cycle that keeps them current.

The suite includes the 5.1 releases of the following software:

  • vSphere Enterprise Plus: This is the top-end ESXi 5.1 hypervisor with all of the bells and whistles.
  • vCloud Director: For aggregating multiple vCenter management servers and pools of ESXi virtualized servers into clouds.
  • vCloud Connector: For linking private clouds to each other and to public clouds
  • vCloud Networking and Security: Firewall and other network security add-ons
  • vCenter Site Recovery Manager Enterprise: Disaster recovery and failover software for virtual servers.
  • vCenter Operations Management Suite: This includes vCenter Operations for performance monitoring and alerting; vCenter Chargeback Manager for metering CPU, memory, storage, and other capacity usage; vCenter Configuration Manager for checking the configurations of VMs and hypervisors and ensuring they are compliant with setup and security policies; and vCenter Infrastructure Navigator for discovering apps running in the virtual infrastructure and mapping their dependencies along with their VMs.
  • vFabric Application Director: An application publishing catalog that links into provisioning tools for virtual infrastructure.

"vCloud Suite is the passing lane to the cloud," says Rick Jackson, chief marketing officer at VMware, who added that all of the components in the vCloud Suite are still being sold independently. No one is being forced into buying the bundles.

Here's how the pieces all snap together in the marketing mind of VMwarers:

The components of the vCloud Suite

The components of the vCloud Suite

VMware is offering up three different editions of the vCloud Suite, and the important thing is that along with the vSphere stack, the vCloud stack is priced only on a per-socket basis on servers rather than on a mixed basis of sockets, cores, and VMs under management as VMware has used in the past. This makes it easier for VMware to price the bundles, since they all have the same pricing model.

vCloud Suite Standard Edition gives customers a basic infrastructure-as-a-service cloud, and it includes the vSphere Enterprise Plus server virtualization stack plus vCloud Director, vCloud Connector, and vCloud Networking and Security Standard Edition, which includes software-defined networking and vShield security. It costs $4,995 per socket.

vCloud Suite Advanced Edition takes it up a notch, adding in automated performance management across the infrastructure cloud. In this case, the bundle takes the vCloud Networking and Security up to the Advanced Edition, layering on firewall and network resiliency features and also adds in vCenter Operations Advanced Edition, which does performance monitoring and capacity planning across the cloudy infrastructure. It costs $7,495 per socket.

vCloud Suite Enterprise Edition is what VMware calls a "mature IaaS cloud," and revs up the vCenter Operations add-on to the vCenter management console to the Enterprise Edition level and then also rolls up the Chargeback Manager, Configuration Manager, and Infrastructure Navigator bolt-ons for vCenter. vCloud Suite Enterprise Edition also has the vFabric Application director rolled up as well. It costs $11,495 per socket.

But here's an important note: All of the components in the vCloud Suite, when bought separately, still have per VM charges and the same prices as they had before the 5.1 product launches this week, Mike Clayville, vice president of product marketing for cloud infrastructure, tells El Reg.

Depending on how many VMs you drive onto your servers, the effective discount that customers get from a vCloud Suite bundle compared to the old independently sold vSphere Enterprise Plus and vCenter add-ons ranges from around 20 per cent to as high as 50 per cent, according to Clayville. "The most efficient people will get the better relative discount," he says.

This vCloud Suite pricing is absolutely intentional to drive customers to buy one of the three vCloud Suites once they have matured to the top of the server virtualization product line with vSphere Enterprise Plus, rather than take a piecemeal approach and, frankly, making VMware pitch products to them.

To make the vCloud Suite deal even sweeter, customers running vSphere Enterprise Plus will now be able to upgrade for free to vCloud Suite Standard Edition if they do so by December 15. vSphere Enterprise Plus costs $3,495 per socket and vCloud Suite Standard costs $4,995 per socket, so that's $1,500 or a 30 per cent discount.

Just as customers started out using server virtualization for test and development environments and then moved it into product on the edge of the data center and only gradually used it on fatter, mission-critical workloads as the capabilities of the hypervisor and VMs improved, Clayville says that customers will walk through the different editions of the suites as they create automated test clouds and then gradually automate more of the processing in their data centers with cloudy control freaks.

And in the long run, vCloud will probably be what most midrange and enterprise companies use and vSphere will be something for smaller shops, El Reg guesses. ®

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