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VMware CTO pledges new OpenStack management for vSphere

VMware CTO Steve Herrod spoke to attendees at OpenStack Summit Wednesday.

VMware will work on a buffed-up compute driver for OpenStack’s Nova project which will allow OpenStack to manage advanced features of vSphere, according to VMware CTO Steve Herrod.

This means that despite the direct competition between OpenStack and VMware’s vCloud Director, VMware will allow OpenStack management tools to more easily manage vSphere virtual machines.

It’s a new olive branch extended to a suspicious OpenStack community by newcomer VMware, which has previously made clear that its proprietary cloud management tools will be able to wrap themselves around OpenStack clouds; this is the first time VMware has actively participated in allowing its hypervisor to be subject to management by another cloud platform.

Citing VMware properties including Spring, RabbitMQ, Linux, Hyperic, and Cloud Foundry, and bearing gifts in the form of hundreds of free copies of VMware Fusion, Herrod played up VMware’s open source street cred in a presentation to a skeptical but standing-room-only crowd at OpenStack Summit on Wednesday.

“We are not strictly a closed source company, we’re not strictly an open source company, we’re a blend of both,” he said.

There’s currently a compute driver within Nova, but it’s “pretty dumb,” Herrod said – essentially it allows users to create vSphere VMs and run them.

With a new driver written by VMware will come support for VMwareHA and live migration, Herrod said.

According to a later presentation by VMware staff engineer Sean Chen, the new driver will also include the ability to launch OVF disk images, use a VNC console to manage VMs, attach and detach iSCSI volumes, get guest information, conduct host operations, assign VLANs, link VMware with Quantum, and create custom VMware image properties for OpenStack’s Glance image management utility.

Herrod also hinted that VMware is exploring ways to integrate the Open vSwitch, used by network virtualization subsidiary Nicira, into the vSphere platform, possibly as a replacement for the existing VMware virtual switch.

“We are looking quite seriously at what aspect of the Open vSwitch to merge and have interoperating in vSphere environments,” he said.

Attendees at the conference weren’t necessarily about to fall into VMware’s outstretched arms, though Herrod’s presentation piqued their interest somewhat.

One a VMware user from a communications company in Texas said he still has yet to decide whether to use a vCloud or OpenStack environment for giving developers access to virtual machines.

“There’s more than one way to skin this cat,” he said.

Another attendee working for a major service provider mused that OpenStack, with its Quantum network virtualization features, might allow for better portability of vSphere VMs between private and public clouds.

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Are we looking at a Trojan horse here. A minimally featured driver provides a bait and switch to a full VMWare deployment, and also allows "Open" boxes to be ticked on a buyer's scorecard.This is a recognition that Openstack hasn't got the features of VMWare yet. But the Openstack price is right, though after-sales support is still maturing. A VMWare intervention could derail the growth of "distribution" companies (the RedHat, Ubuntu model), and eventually leave VMWare in the catbird seat.