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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 Contact him at

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How does VMware’s dominance in virtualization affect your decision to adopt vFabric Suite 1.5?
VMware is charging way to much for the Hypervisor and focused on lock-in as a step to the Cloud. With MSFT Hyper-V's advancements and their advancing Cloud portfolio I'm inclined to look at their solutions as they're more cost effective
The desision is easily affected due to the solid VMWare virtualization suite. It gives me more confidence on their final product.
the software-only model which VMware is promoting for its PaaS stack has many advantages over the service provider model (e.g. amazon) for enterprise customers who want a choice of where to host their applications.
Look at MSFT for the cloud. The hypervisor is becomming a commodity and MSFT's solutions will be on par or exceed VMware's in the near future. MSFT's products up to this points have missed a number of key aspects: virtual infrastructure management, high availability features. All very important for large enterprises running x86 servers, especially with missions critical applications.

Live Migration was introduced in version 2.0. W. Server 8 is now on equal playing ground with vSphere 5, and also has a number of important enterprise features that VMware does not offer.

I've been working with VMware for 7 years now and have it deployed across 40% of our infrastructure. With cost soaring and MSFT's solutions getting better I'm starting to take a look for my enterprise. Just downloaded some MSFT piece on the cloud from this site. Any others out there looking at MSFT for their data center or private cloud that can provide some first hand feedback?