Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Postcards from VMworld 2008 (with a twist)

I'm a bit late in reporting-back on day #1 of VMworld in Las Vegas. Word-on-the-floor is that there are over 14,000 attendees here. Definitely indicative of the hunger the industry has for this technology.

Rather than re-hash all of what CEO Paul Maritz had to say, I'd like to point out why VMware's vision is both on-the-mark -and- already available from sources other than VMware.... and showcase one such available product

Paul outlined 3 areas of vision:
  • Virtual Data Center O/S (VDC-OS)
  • vCloud (providing the ability to build internal/external clouds and federation between clouds)
  • vClient (providing end-client independence for services emanating from clouds
He emphasized, with a demo, how an "internal cloud" could reach-out to an off-premises (external) cloud for resources, say during peaking demand -- or perhaps as a failover scenario. The demo has 3 points to make: (a) the ability to provide "elastic" capacity, (b) the ability to provide self-healing in the form of replacing failed capacity, and (c) the fact that it was driven by policies based on SLAs. It was a demo of a non-commercially-available product, but it drew great applause from the audience.

Whenever the "big guys" show-off a concept/roadmap, you can be sure that there are already smaller guys who are paving the way for them; this is no different. Cassatt, for one, has been showing-off this type of demo (down to a similar GUI) for many months now. With a few key differences:
  • The product is shipping today
  • We don't require that there are "warm" hosts pre-provisioned as standby resources
  • We don't require that VMware is everytwere; in fact, we can already show the same demo but using Xen/Citrix (and soon, with other VM players)
  • We don't even require that Virtualization is used at all; our approach works with physical HW and O/Ss too (including x86, SPARC, Linux distros, Solaris, and others)

For those attending the keynote, perhaps the GUI above looks familiar; except it's Cassatt's Active Response 5.1

In the center is a chart indicating upper- and lower- SLA thresholds (SLAs can be arbitrarily defined and composed). If the upper SLA is breached, Active Response finds bare-metal resources in the "free pool" (again, defined how you like) and then automatically provisions those resources with whatever SW policy determined (read: either a physical server or a virtual server). The application "tier" grows automatically. If/when the lower threshold is breached, an instance on the "tier" is retired. This approach provides real-life SLA management, capacity-on-demand (elastic behavior), failover/availability, and many other nice-to-have properties -- automatically. And Today.

This set of properties were also discussed across the street today at Tier-1 Research Hosting Summit at the Mirage. Many MSPs in the audience wanted to know "how do I get some of that?" when discussion came to utility computing and cloud infrastructures. I'll post on that next :)


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