VMware is gearing up to discuss details of its hush-hush "Redwood" project, an extension to its vSphere platform that should make it easier to build out fully functioning application stacks on VMware-powered clouds.
The Redwood code-name surfaced in June when VMware released the schedule builder for the VMworld 2009 show in San Francisco next month. The agenda listed session TA4102 "Introduction to Redwood", run by VMware's director of cloud computing and virtual appliances William Shelton, with the following description:
"VMware will be releasing an end-to-end solution for setting up internal and external clouds. In this session, product management will drill into the specifics of that offering. The first half of this presentation will introduce the scope and composition of the release; the second half will dive into specific technologies behind the cloud, and what customers should expect for their datacenters and from cloud provider environments."
VMware has since renamed the session "Unveiling New Cloud Technologies," but the session description is the same.
From private to public cloud
A source familiar with Redwood said that the cloud computing project is based on VMware vCenter Orchestrator and VMware vCenter Lab Manager, and targets large enterprises and public cloud computing providers.
As it stands, "it's a lot of work to script up a cloud," the source said, and would-be public cloud providers have thus far had to write their own provisioning portals. For example, managed hosting provider Savvis Inc. introduced the VMware-based Savvis Cloud Compute this winter. Compared with prior dedicated virtual server offerings, one of Savvis Compute Cloud's differentiators was a proprietary self-service portal, said Savvis CTO Bryan Doerr at the time.
Presumably, VMware's Redwood would help partners like Savvis avoid these sorts of development efforts, especially as VMware evolves its platform over time. "There's an argument about how good and robust that [third-party] code is," the source said, "and how well it will work with future versions of vSphere right out of the box."
In particular, Redwood uses Lab Manager's network fencing technology to quarantine virtual environments "so there's no bleed-through," the source said, and VMware Orchestrator for automating the configuring and provisioning of a VMware cloud workload.
"It's pretty compelling stuff," the source said, and "pretty far along."
For now, the only problem with Redwood --though it could be a big one -- is that few public cloud providers use VMware as their underlying virtualization layer.
"Most public clouds are running on some version of Xen," the source said. Recently, VMware has tried to remedy that situation, for example, with a $20 million stake in infrastructure and managed services provider Terremark.
A VMware spokesperson said the company would not make a formal Redwood product announcement at the show.
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