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Verizon/VMware hybrid cloud missing key feature

Is anyone else amused by Verizon’s puffed up claims to dominance in the cloud computing market? In the wake of the vCloud Director unveiling at VMworld 2010, industry analysts made a huge fuss of VMware’s announcement that Verizon has joined its vCloud service provider program. I, on the other hand, am not impressed.

No doubt landing one of the top telecom providers in the world is a coup from a PR perspective, but so far the partnership is a big paper tiger if you’re an IT shop looking to do anything real with this news.
The press release claims that, with “the click of a mouse,” customers can expand their internal VMware environments to Verizon’s Compute as a Service (CaaS) offering built on VMware vCloud Data Center, for instant, additional capacity. The overall effect is referred to as a hybrid cloud.

The immediacy and ease touted here is far from true; ironically, I learned this during a session at VMworld entitled “Cloud 101: What’s real, what’s relevant for enterprise IT and what role does VMware play.”

The speaker said that to move a workload from internal VMware resources to a vCloud service provider such as Verizon is currently a manual process. It require users to shut down the to-be-migrated workload, select the cloud you’ll deploy it to, then switch to the Web interface of that service provider and import the workload. I am leaving out a bunch of other steps too tedious to mention, but it’s hardly the click of a mouse!

In a follow-up conversation after the session, VMware said the missing feature that will allow automated workload migration, called the vCloud client plug-in, was still to come. No timeframe was given.

And this isn’t all the smoke and mirrors from Verizon; the telco claims its CaaS is the first cloud service to offer PCI compliance. This statement isn’t quite either because the current PCI standard, v1.2, does not support virtual infrastructures. So a real cloud infrastructure (a multi-tenant, virtualized resource) cannot be PCI compliant. The PCI Council is expected to announce v2.0 of the standard at the end of October, which will explain how to obtain PCI compliance in a virtual environment.

A word of advice to IT shops investigating hybrid cloud options: Be sure to play around with the service before you buy. In many cases, these offerings are still only half-baked.

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