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VMware to merge cloud and server virtualization suites

The fusion of VMware vCloud with vCenter Operations and Server has already begun with version 5.1, but sources say further integration is coming.

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SAN FRANCISCO – VMware will merge its vCloud Director, vCenter Server and vCenter Operations products over the next year, according to sources. This integration would simplify the use of these products for cloud managers.

VMware Inc. executives here at VMworld confirmed that deeper integration is the general direction the company’s products are headed, though no timeframe was given.

As part of the newly announced vCloud Suite, the products have single sign-on and can be purchased using one license key, with “consistent” user interfaces,  said Neela Jacques, a VMware spokesperson.

The products will, however, be delivered separately, with separate back-end databases and naming conventions between vCenter and vCloud Director, for example.

Ultimately, the goal is to erase these distinctions and put all of their capabilities into one offering, Jacques said.

“The vCloud Suite should be exactly like vSphere is today,” he said. ”You wouldn’t think of ESX and vMotion separately, for example.”

Right now, vCenter Operations is accessed as an icon through vCenter, which opens a separate window.

“I’d like to see a tab within the vCenter Web client [for vCOps],” said Kirk Bellmore, VMware systems engineer for a higher education institution in San Diego, Calif. “That would make a lot more sense, having a single pane of glass with role-based access.”

Bellmore said he’d like the products to continue the way of vCenter Server, by moving to a virtual appliance, which doesn’t require a Windows license as older versions have. VCloud Director is based on Red Hat Inc.’s Enterprise Linux, which Bellmore said he doesn’t want to deal with.

“An appliance would make for easier deployment, management and updating,” he said.

The “Data Center of the Future”
The folding of these products into one is part of a grander vision to make the virtual data center the new unit of consumption for IT, rather than the virtual machine (VM), according to a “Data Center of the Future” session delivered here by Bogomil Balkansky, senior vice president, cloud infrastructure products for VMware.

During the session, Balkansky presented a vision which includes a single platform used to virtualize compute, storage and network into virtual data centers and provide policy-based automation for multiple public clouds, including Amazon Web Services. 

IT administrators would also be able to plug management offerings from third parties into this platform where they see fit through a new insertion framework of APIs, according to Balkansky.

“You should be able to unplug whatever VMware provides and plug in whatever … software-defined solution you prefer,” he said.

For example, “F5 will do a better job at load balancing than us.”

The beginnings of this API framework are already available with vCloud Director 5.1, Balkansky said. Bellmore, who attended the session, said the overall vision will probably encounter “pushback” from many enterprise IT pros.

“A lot of people don’t want to break from their traditional silos,” he said. “VMware is looking at virtualizing every single aspect of the data center.”

Meanwhile, both Balkansky and VMware CTO Steve Herrod made reference to VMware’s ideas for software-defined storage (to go along with the software-defined networking tools it acquired with Nicira) through a concept called vVols, which use VMs instead of LUNs to provision storage. This was talked about during VMworld 2011, but has yet to ship.

The vision “makes sense, but there are a lot of challenges about how all this is going to play out,” said Shawne Hatley, a solutions engineer for VMware vCloud service provider Windstream Hosted Solutions.

This is especially true of the networking layer and integrating with third-party products through APIs, Hatley added.

“There are some complex algorithms in the networking stack.”

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for SearchCloudComputing.com and SearchServerVirtualization.com. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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