Details of VMware's cloud computing product plans, accidentally posted on the company's website recently, reveal an important step forward in the evolution of cloud computing for enterprise IT shops.
vCloud Service Director, code-named Project Redwood, is a set of VMware technologies that provide the interface, automation, and management tools to tie VMware environments in the enterprise into private clouds and link them seamlessly with outside service providers running its vCloud Express service.
Heretofore, creating a private cloud out of internal, virtual infrastructure resources and then connecting it to a public cloud for additional resources, has been totally theoretical. The glue required to connect the resources together across internal and external infrastructures and manage them through a single pane of glass, has been missing.
VMware claims vCloud Service Director, to be announced at VMworld in September, is the answer at least for VMware users. Service providers say it can't happen fast enough while enterprise IT shops have concerns over security and scalability.
The nuts and bolts of vCloud Service Director
According to a presentation posted to and then removed from VMware's website said vCloud Service Director will:
• Allow enterprises to create fully-functional internal cloud infrastructure
• Create a broad ecosystem of cloud providers to give enterprises choice
• Provide identical interfaces between internal and external clouds to allow toolsets to operate identically with either
• Enable developers on the cloud platform to create new applications within a cloud frameworkvCloud Service Director will let users "serve themselves by creating, using, and managing virtual machines and application stack--vApps-- while IT maintains control and bills for usage," according to the posted VMware materials.
VMware's aim is to build a control and management layer for a vSphere-based virtual infrastructure that controls outside services and internal resources seamlessly.
A sample of the architecture shows Project Redwood servers talking to a database and a service bus that governs resource pools. An organizational chart shows the Redwood UI at the top, next to the VI Client and third party services—built on top of client libraries published for accelerated development.
To pull this off, VMware will use jclouds, a Java library that allows API access to public cloud providers and technologies. For instance, a jclouds user can access both Amazon EC2 and use an Ubuntu-based Eucalyptus cloud, for example. The creator of jclouds, Adrian Cole, now works for VMware and the company maintains the open source project.
Resource management, or catalogs of virtual machine images and vApps are in the middle layer, with the vCloud API. The bottom of the stack comprises the hypervisor, hardware and the WS (VIM) APIs . When the vCloud Service Director is fully implemented, VMware will be able to give users a true cloud computing environment without having to involve any other vendor—if the software works as advertised.
The "Redwood UI" will complement the VI Client interface that VMware users are familiar with, according to the presentation; creating a single web portal for access to all virtual resources. The Redwood APIs would take the place of the lower-level VIM APIs. Additionally, vCloud Service Director will allow multi-tenancy on top of vSphere, so users can create distinct 'virtual data centers' (vDCs) out of one physical data center. The vDCs are currently a feature of vCloud Express, but not vSphere.
Impact on hosting providers
Hosting providers like vCloud Service Director's features VMware cloud provider BlueLock is one of five initial vCloud Express providers. CTO Pat O'Day said customers want the features but need strict, high availability (HA) computing environments and service level agreements (SLAs). Some organizations are experimenting with vCloud Express while others are already using it in production and clamoring for better SLAs, according to O'Day. BlueLock is trying to figure out how to meet the demand.
"We're trying to decide what makes the most sense," O'Day said. Even though all of BlueLock's customers use VMware, there's no simple way to use vCloud with vSphere 4. He said that VMware is working on that capability but the current vCloud API's don't mix and match with existing VMware installations. For instance, vBlock users cannot smoothly shift workloads and virtual servers from vSphere to vCloud Express. That's high on the wish list, according to O'Day.
Instead, the company may build out a new computing unit, an infrastructure 'pod' just to run vCloud Express at different levels of price and reliability.
O'Day said he couldn't speak to VMware's plans, but hinted that the release of the vCloud Service Director would allow BlueLock and its customers to get the capabilities of vCloud in their VMware environments.
According to BlueLock's O'Day, that is exactly what his customers want; BlueLock created an add-in to the standard VI Client that let users jump right from their vSphere environment to vCloud Express and said the response was tremendous. "They love it," he said.