VMware attempts to move beyond virtualization with vFabric update

VMware adds automatic deployment tools, RDBMS and in-memory database features to its vFabric cloud offering.

VMware has been clear for more than a year that it intends to transform itself into a bigger player in the cloud...

infrastructure arena, and not be typecast as just a virtualization provider. It remains to be seen whether the updated vFabric suite provides enough value to tempt VMware’s virtualization customers to trust its cloud stack.

"The previous version [of the suite] was lacking some core capabilities, most notably a database, that any developer would need," said Dante Orsini, vice president of business development for iLand Internet Solutions, a VMware service provider program partner based in Houston.

VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 adds the vFabric Application Director management tool and a relational database -- vFabric Postgres -- to its existing application server and tools bundle. Some say these tools fill important gaps in VMware’s cloud platform.

The updated suite is one example of how VMware is “moving up the stack.”

"Many new applications are being deployed on vSphere -- and probably also built using the Spring Framework,” Orsini said. “So the vFabric Suite is very relevant to the application development organizations inside VMware’s customers."

One VMware customer said this update provides the types of features that cloud application developers need.

"Now that vFabric Suite includes an RDBMS tuned for virtualization, which can be coupled with [Application] Director for complete database management in a virtualized environment, VMware provides a complete stack ... that can be leveraged for application development in the cloud model," said Jeff Reed, director of applications for Logicalis Group, an enterprise cloud provider based in the U.K.

It certainly gives VMware a broader story, particularly for Java customers that wish to expand into the cloud.

Stephen O'Grady, senior analyst and co-founder of RedMonk

Indeed, Logicalis has already signed up one customer to use the updated suite, Reed added.

And at least one analyst thinks the updated suite could help VMware over time in its quest to expand its cloud footprint.

"It certainly gives VMware a broader story, particularly for Java customers that wish to expand into the cloud," said Stephen O'Grady, senior analyst and co-founder of research firm RedMonk in Portland, Maine.

VMware vFabric Suite 5 features, pricing
The vFabric suite includes a full implementation of VMware’s Java Spring framework as well as releases of the Apache Tomcat open source application server and Apache HTTP Web server. The open source components come with VMware support.

The VMware vFabric Suite 5.1, which was released May 22, is available in Standard and Advanced editions. The Standard package costs $1,500 per virtual machine (VM), while the Advanced edition costs $2,500 per VM. Features specific to the Advanced edition include Application Director, which automates deployment and management of applications, and the vFabric RabbitMQ message broker.

Additionally, only the Advanced edition includes the company's vFabric Postgres relational database system, which is compatible with open source PostgresSQL.

Beyond that, VMware vFabric Advanced customers will also need to pay extra -- $2,500 per VM -- if they want to add VMware's SQLFire in-memory database to the bundle. vFabric SQLFire Professional pools memory, CPUs and network resources across a cluster of machines, thus eliminating disk access as a performance bottleneck, according to David McJannet, VMware’s director of cloud and application services.

"There is real interest in in-memory technologies today, [and SQLFire] is aligned with the trend.  It will be very interesting to watch SQLfire get used and adopted," Orsini added.

VMware first introduced the suite last June as vFabric Suite 5 -- numbered to match the versioning scheme of VMware's virtualization platform, vSphere 5. The suite itself grew out of VMware's purchase of open source Java application server developer SpringSource in 2009.


Stuart J. Johnston is Senior News Writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at sjohnston@techtarget.com.

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