Home > January 2009

January 2009

4 new VMware Whitepapers #20

Thursday, January 29, 2009 Category : 0

Updated VMware Technical Resource documents listing on VMTN.

4 new documents added, now at 206 documents listed with abstracts.

Dell EqualLogic VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure 
by Dell on 01/25/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/partners/dell/dell-vmware-solution-brief-r2final08q4.pdf

This solution brief explains how organizations can use VMware virtualization technologies to provide a virtual desktop infrastructure.

Dell EqualLogic VMware® View 3 
by Dell on 01/25/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/partners/dell/dell-vmware-desktop-wp-r208q4.pdf
This paper assumes that the reader already has a good understanding of desktop virtualization and has reached the point where they are ready to begin sizing their server and storage architecture.

Address Desktop Challenges with VMware View and NetApp 
by NetApp on 01/24/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/partners/netapp-tap-desktop-solution-brief.pdf
NetApp helps you realize the full potential of your VMware environment by addressing the common storage challenges associated with virtual desktop solutions.

Comprehensive Virtual Desktop Deployment with VMware and NetApp 
by NetApp on 01/24/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/partners/netapp-vmware-view-wp.pdf
VMware offers an end-to-end solution called VMware® View, the next generation of VMware VDI, that allows organizations to provide corporate end users with access to virtual desktop machines that are hosted in a central data center.

Preeti Somal on vCloud

Monday, January 26, 2009 Category : , 0

Preeti Somal is the VP of R&D at VMware with responsibility for vCloud. Pretti presented a session at the Cloud Computing Conference and Expo 2008 in San Jose and the video has been released for public viewing.

If you have been tracking and reading everything on vCloud there is no ground breaking new information but if you want to come up to speed on where VMware is coming from on vCloud its a great primer. There is certainly more presented here than there was at VMworld. There is a new slide I had not seen before expanding out some of the vApp metadata plus there is mention of vCloud Services which are different to the vCloud API.

Unfortunately to see the video you need to complete a registration from and then get sent an email with a link to the video. You can complete the registration form here. The mail arrives in a minute or two.

Maybe we have found someone who can solidify our definition of what constitutes an "internal Cloud" from a VMware perspective? Preeti?


3 New VMware Whitepapers #19

Sunday, January 25, 2009 Category : 0

Updated VMware Technical Resource documents listing on VMTN.

3 new documents added, now at 202 documents listed with abstracts.

xpnet Performance White Paper 
by xpnet on 01/21/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/xpnet_Performance_Review_of_AppVirt_Solutions.pdf
Application Virtualization 2008-2009: Assessing the Architectural and Performance Characteristics of Four Leading Windows Application Virtualization Solutions

Java in Virtual Machines on VMware ESX: Best Practices 
by VMware on 01/21/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/Java_in_Virtual_Machines_on_ESX-FINAL-Jan-15-2009.pdf
This paper discusses best practices for running Java-based software in VMware ESX virtual machines. These guidelines will help you to get the best from your Java applications and application servers when you run them on VMware Infrastructure 3.

VMware ThinApp 4 Reviewer’s Guide 
by VMware on 01/19/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/thinapp_4_reviewers_guide.pdf
VMware ThinApp 4 Reviewer’s Guide

Ballmer on Cloud

Thursday, January 22, 2009 Category : , 0

In our continuing conversation on Cloud computing I stumbled today across an interview with Ballmer where he gives his view of cloud computing. This occurred about 6 weeks before the release of Azure.

Here is what he had to say.

We have a form of cloud computing today. We've have hosted services for a number of years. Hosted services are not cloud computing primarily because nobody went back and rearchitected the underlying server software designed specifically for the kind of scaling, fault tolerance, geo-replication, security that you would want in an environment that is multi-tenanted and shared.

So when people are talking about cloud computing we are talking about outside the firewall and software that has been specifically architected to be managed and propigated in a certain fasion. Do I think their is a relationship between the cloud and the datacenter, absolutely. People don't want to rewrite application depending on where they want to happen to instance the software, so I think I would agree with Maritz on this notion of federation and a certain level of symmetry and homogenaity between the two environments.
Interesting comment that people don't want to rewrite applications. Ballmer was probably referring to the continued use of .net rather than the VMware IaaS workloads of today and tomorrow mantra, but its still a validation of the VMware position.

What does that description of rewriting the underlying fabric for cloud sound like? Can you say VDC-OS and vCloud API, that is essentially the features and services these bring to todays server workloads.

Likewise Ballmer agrees with the cloud definition we have been working with, referring to the outside the firewall, which we can translate into accessed via the network.

There is a video recording of the whole interview where quite a number of topics are discussed.

Here are the times of the interesting bits.
23:50 VMware, server and desktop virtualisation
28:13 Cloud computing
Great conversation.


New VMware whitepaper - Performance of Virtual Desktops

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 Category : 0

New document added to the "VMware Technical Resource documents listing" on VMTN. Remember this document lists all technical resource documents with their abstracts, a great way to search them all via a simple Ctrl-F.

At version 18 there are now 199 documents listed with abstracts for searching. This is the first new document this year, released today. Come on VMware, just one more and we hit 200!

Performance of Virtual Desktops in a VMware Infrastructure 3 Environment 
by VMware on 01/20/2009 @ http://www.vmware.com/files/pdf/vdesk_scaling.pdf

This paper examines the performance of virtual desktops running a typical mix of interactive applications on VMware ESX 3.5 Update 2. These include office application tasks such as editing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as browsing the Internet and reading documents. Results show the effect on performance as workload is scaled up from 16 to 160 virtual machines.
I took a quick squiz at the document, VDI is a pet topic. It shows CPU resource consumption but it would be very helpful to see RAM and disk IO/Mb per second loads too. 

Bookmark the full listing now.  http://communities.vmware.com/docs/DOC-2590


When is a cloud private?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009 Category : , 3

When is a cloud private (internal)? I raised this question in a post a few weeks ago.

Maybe we need a better definition for internal Clouds. If you have a single internal data center with a virtualized environment based on VDC-OS what you have is utility computing, not cloud. Once you have two data centers and start choosing to pull services from either one, over your network, you just turned each of them into an internal Cloud, because now they are providing elastic capacity to each other and we have an element of remote delivery of a service, hence matching our definition of Cloud. Once you start to describing, moving and orchestrating these services (workloads) with vCloud, we are truly Cloudy, all be it internally.
I made this distinction based on the agreed definition of 'Cloud'. As pointed out,
Cloud computing is often confused with grid computing, ("a form of distributed computing whereby a 'super and virtual computer' is composed of a cluster of networked, loosely-coupled computers, acting in concert to perform very large tasks"), utility computing (the "packaging of computing resources, such as computation and storage, as a metered service similar to a traditional public utility such as electricity") and autonomic computing ("computer systems capable of self-management"). Indeed many cloud computing deployments are today powered by grids, have autonomic characteristics and are billed like utilities, but cloud computing can be seen as a natural next step from the grid-utility model. (Wikipedia)
So it was with interest I scanned an article today over at CNet. The argument FOR private clouds. James Urquhart really believes in private (internal) clouds, which is great because I do too! James wanted a quick rebuttal he could use on twitter. Read the article but here is his argument.
Internet has Intranet. Cloud Computing has Private Clouds. Similar disruption, localized scale.
This looks good on the surface, but I think the argument is rubbish.

Private verses external clouds are nothing to do with scale. The difference between Internet and Intranet is about realms of access and security. Internal clouds are about running multiple grid/utility computing instances which are separated by a network, once you have two to choose from, when you move workloads around, then you have internal clouds. Having one grid/utility instance does not make it a cloud. In VMware terms if you are not running the vCloud API you are not cloud.

This is going to be an evolving discussion and I am actually quite keen for someone to beat me into reality here and change my mind. But no one has managed to do that (including people at VMware). If you think you can, post in the comments or find out a way to contact me.

Lets get cloudy!

Find someone smarter

Friday, January 16, 2009 Category : 0

If you want to learn go find someone smarter than you on the topic and engage with them. Well, they are not actually smarter than you, its just that they have put more thinking time into the topic, they have read more, analysed more and had more experience. In most circumstances they are also quite keen to share it with you. You can fast track your learning by leveraging their minds.

This is why I am recommending you take the time to listen to the Virtualisation Security Round Table which launched today. You can read the show notes and all the details over at the shows Wiki.

The show is hosted by Edward Haletky, so we know it meets the criteria of someone smarter than us when it comes to security.

Now go find another topic you should know a lot more about this year and find someone in your company, the blogsphere, twitter, a user group or industry forum and start engaging with them!


Life without VDI sucks

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 Category : 9

There was a discussion on Twitter about what desktop OS to run, due to someone getting a new machine from their IT department. Of course I had to ask, why not use a VM as your desktop with View/VDI? The reason cited to not run a VM was that it is a powerful workstation so it may as well be used to its potential. Silly IT department, they just planted an island of resource into their environment.

This got me lamenting over the loss of my VDI environment and how much it sucks living without it. So I thought I would drop a quick post to say why, after all, we should all eat our own dog food. I will leave aside the business IT reasons and simply talk as a user who has had to move backwards.

Why does life without VDI sucks? I will give you my top four reasons.

Single setup. 

In the three months without VDI I have configured two complete desktop environments. Once on a temporary laptop and a second on my current one. You can’t underestimate the time it takes to configure a machine just the way you like it, even when you have an SOE and profiles. I use many mechanisms which reduce this effort (such as FoxMarks to sync bookmarks) but it still takes time to remember and install all of those little things which I use to make myself productive (eg FreeMind). Now I hope this laptop lasts but I am sure I am going to be building another desktop within the next 12 months. There is also the decommissioning time, I needed to tidy up the old laptop I was returning, removing files and uninstalling apps. Sure IT may reimage the laptop but I figure its my responsibility to clear commercial data off it that was sitting on my account, that the next person may not have access to. To me the whole connection of my desktop environment to a single piece of hardware is just a huge waste of effort and productivity. I figure I lost at least two full days of work. I miss my VDI because I know I am going to have to configure everything again at some stage.
Power galore. 
I miss the speed of my VDI environment. Sure my new laptop has 2G of RAM and my VDI only had 1G allocated but to be honest everything used to run much faster. My VM ran in the data center on some decent hardware adjacent to all of the secondary systems needed like mail, Intranets, back office applications, file servers. Everything was lickety split fast. Also the processor was faster, I was getting my slice of a 3Ghz or more core where as now I am getting all of a 1.9Ghz core (I have a ultra portable laptop). The user experience of a slice of a 3Ghz processor is better than all of a 1.9Ghz. When the IT guys made changes to the back end (I think there was a round of RAM upgrades) to be honest I never noticed. A side issue on power is battery consumption. With my old laptop I had a good battery life because very little was going on in the machine and I did not care if it was the latest or greatest device. Thankfully as my new machine is an Ultraportable it too has a good battery life, about 5 hours, but if I was on VDI I bet I could stretch that out an hour or two more, that would be nice. I miss the power of my VDI.
Access anywhere any time. 
Now I must take my laptop home every day! If I want to work on things at night which I always do its all on the laptop. With VDI I really did not care what machine I was using, as long as I had a network connection. I had a Wyse V10L on my desk with dual monitors, I had my laptop for around the office and at client sites, and I had the Mac laptop at home that the family uses. If I was working at my desk and there was a meeting I would stand up, grab my powered off laptop and head to the meeting room. Once there I would boot and connect back to my desktop with the VDM client, in doing this the desktop session was removed from the thin client and presented to the laptop. I would not need to close any applications, suspend the machine (and worry about saving files just in case). Likewise when I went out of the office or headed home, I would just leave all my working documents open and reconnect remotely. My shutdown procedure at night was to flick the power switch on the wall and hence turn off every device. This made me ultra green. Did you know those powered speakers on your desk use the same amount of power turned off or on, full volume or none, well mine did, I measured everything on my desk once. It was funny to watch others who were not on VDI in the morning power on their machine (because you have to shut them down over night to save power right) and then go get a cup of coffee because it always took ages to boot and log in. Me, I just flicked the power switch on the wall, the thin client booted in a few seconds, connect the session and there was my desktop space from where I finished the night before. It was also great to be able to use the Mac at home. I could be doing something on the Mac such as playing with the family photos of our last 4WD trip or mapping it in my GPS software (Windows only but Fusion made it work a treat, especially with Unity) and have my work desktop all in front of me. Lastly, if I had to borrow another person’s machine in a meeting all I needed to do was access my desktop and I had everything, it did not happen a lot, but when I need to it was a real life saver. I even used my machine from VMworld 08 in Las Vegas back to Sydney, Australia. I miss the access flexibility of my VDI.
Peace of mind.
I don’t rest as easy as I used to. I now have all these files on my laptop. I have to keep a full copy locally as when remotely connected its just to slow to access them. I also don’t want to manage which ones I do and don’t have locally, that’s just a headache so it’s everything. Now I have to think about backup and data security. I need to sync my files back to a server somewhere on a regular basis and you know we all hate backup. Plus I have started to run some encryption software in the event my machine gets lost or stolen. There are many sensitive documents from clients on my laptop and I just don’t want to put myself or my employer in a bad position. Of course this is all just more work, I have to manage all this and type more passwords in. It feels like going backwards. I miss the peace of mind my VDI environment gave me in regards to data protection and security.
What is better now, because I do need to be fair? Not much. I do a lot more work whilst traveling so I am using the 3G access a lot more. VDI over 3G did have a slight delay, but it was workable. Flash, or should I say media presented through flash was trouble under VDI. Youtube and other online video always caused me grief and I would sometimes need to drop out of VDI to the local machine to watch things, but I lived with it expecting this solved in the first half of 09.

It’s worth mentioning what’s not different. I ran USB devices, multi media, sync'd and charged my mobile phone, dual monitor, RSA tokens, no app gave me issues. It really was a full and rich desktop experience.

So how long did I run it for, was this just an experiment for a week? I ran VDI for all of my business and just about all of my personal usage (apart from the Mac) since about the time of the VDM 2.0 beta. I ran it with all my required apps, which is essentially all the MS Office suite including things like Visio. I would consider myself a mid level power user.

The disclaimer for the sceptics. One, my job is to tell people how wonderful virtualisation and things like VDI are, however I hope you can see that this was my personal experience and not some marketing fluff. The people in cubicles around me are sick of my lamenting on this topic. Second, this is not a comment on the IT dept at my current employer or anything to do with them; because they would reject and deny anything I said because I am absolutely not allowed to make any comment what so ever about them or anything that might be even slightly related to them, in fact its best if they don’t know I exist.

There you have it. All I can say is, life without VDI sucks. And this is why my laptop has this sticker proudly displayed on it, so whenever I am it in a meeting, everyone knows how both my machine and I feel about it!


Category : 1

As reported previously by Eric and Tom (correction Duncan) the "VMware Virtualization Professional Program" was to be announced today.

Its now going to be tomorrow but what has been revealed is that the name will be ...

VMware vExpert
I hope the logo is not that cool, otherwise everyone will want one!


Eating Our Own Dog Food

Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Category : 0

I have always been a fan of the phrase "eating your own dog food" and my old boss used to cringe every time I said it in front of a customer. He kept telling me, "Rodos, don't say that, its Drink your own Champagne".

Now I feel vindicated. As John Troyer has dug up the phrase "Eating Our Own Dogfood" was actually coined by none other than Mr Ruby-On-Rails himself, Paul Maritz.

Here is what wikipedia reports.

The idea originated in television commercials for Alpo brand dog food; actor Lorne Greene would tout the benefits of the dog food, and then would say it's so good that he feeds it to his own dogs. In 1988, Microsoft manager Paul Maritz sent Brian Valentine, test manager for Microsoft LAN Manager, an email titled "Eating our own Dogfood" challenging him to increase internal usage of the product; from there, the usage of the term spread through Microsoft, as chronicled in the book Inside Out: Microsoft—In Our Own Words (ISBN 0446527394). The phrase became slang during the dot-com craze, and is used most commonly in reference to technology companies.
Now I feed vindicated and I will state "eat our own dog food" proudly wherever I go!


Upcoming roundtables

Category : 1

The topic for VMware VMware Communities Roundtable #31 is out (notice from Dr Troyer via Twitter). The topic is 

"Virtualizing Exchange, Domino, RIM"
Not sure if their is a guest.

See the VMware Communities Roundtable page over at TalkShoe for details and times. Also don't forget how to figure out when it is in your time zone.

The day after is the new and inaugural episode of the Virtualization Security Roundtable hosted by Texiwill.


Moving workloads, split cluster or the cloud?

Monday, January 12, 2009 Category : , 3

A few little elements have popped up this week to raise the whole question again of VMotion across data centers or stretched ESX clusters.

Splitting a ESX cluster across sites has been a something that most of us have looked at over the last year and most of us still want to do it at some stage. However is it really a good idea? Chad Sakac did a great write up on this “The Case For and Against Stretched ESX Clusters” that I often refer people to as it is well worth the read. 

Then last week over on the Cisco Data Center podcast Sidney Morgan, IT Manager at Cisco was interviewed (MP3) about their internal use and plans for virtualisation. They mention at one point they may have been one of VMware’s largest customers. Sidney is asked what is the next wave for their datacenters. The goal is to “not only load balance between rooms but between datacenters”. Sidney seems to be talking about VMotioning across locations, talking about using it for much better BC failover, using layer 2 adjacencies to allow DRS across sites for failure in a true active/active nature, inter rather than intra data center. In marketing speak the end goal according to Sidney is “End to end virtualisation, any application, on device running on any network hosted out of the most convenient data center”. The first bit sounds like split clusters to me where as the second sounds like vCloud.

Moving the running machine networking wise is sort of easy, it’s moving the storage that’s the issue. As Alan pointed out on “The Virtual Datacenter Blog” in referring to some Cisco comments, the amount of bandwidth consumed by video is going to be dwarfed by that of moving VMs. 

However it has been my belief that in the early generations of vCloud we are probably not going to see VMotion and dynamic movement of workloads across clouds (sure you can spin up a new VM, but that’s different to moving a running one). This is certainly not what I thought the vCloud API would provide, although there may be a mechanism to move a powered off or suspended VM. The dynamic moving of workloads around the cloud is something for down the track, first generations will be more about deployment placement choice than say load balancing. Until its released or we see it under NDA we just don’t know yet.

So it was all good, then I got a curve ball. Today I reviewed the VMware partner training materials on vCloud that Eric Sloof posted about. You could not count the times within these sessions that it mentioned VMotion and Storage VMotion and this got me worried. This training is early days and the full details for vCloud is not released yet, but … putting the idea of VMotion which is really split ESX clusters and Storage VMotion which could certainly be used as a way to migrate all of a workload to another site is putting dangerous thoughts into sales peoples heads. I can imagine what sales people will say to customers after reviewing this material, “Oh yea, VMotion into the cloud, no problem, you can Storage VMotion the VMDK files over too”. No offence to all my sales friends.

Lets see what pans out but I think VMware are going to have to be really clear as to what the goal is, setting the right expectation. If we have all sorts of confusing messages mixing up split clusters with federated clouds and vendors like Cisco pushing its all sweet, you just need layer 2 adjacencies (ignore the storage, thats an exercise for the reader, a bit like the replication bit within SRM) we may have some untangling to do. 

On the other hand it may all be sweet and all that fibre capacity bandwidth the carriers have is going to get sold real quick. Boss, can you place an order for 10G between data centers and the cloud provider please, bandwidth is cheap isn't it.

Exciting times.


Confirmation of cloud approach for 2009

Category : , 2

The cloud has been on radar.

On Jan 5 Gartner put out their new years resolutions for CIOs for 2009. I don't have access to the report however Sam over at the Cloud Pulse blog must have because he reported on its contents in relation to cloud.

Sam reports that Cloud "figures prominently" and that CIOs are encouraged to "start taking cloud seriously."

"You will need to start leading your organization safely in this inevitable direction, or risk being sidelined by its progress."

Its interesting that one of the recommendations of "exploring" the Cloud is to "start to assess the cost of internal applications of a utility (per-seat, per-month) basis". This was one of the items on my list last week of things which CIOs need to start putting into their planning and review now.

Here was the list of "get ready" items I listed last week.

  • virtualise
  • centralise
  • automate
  • package
  • streamline networking
  • WAN acceleration
  • understand current chargeback or costing models

Update : I managed to obtained a full copy through my employer (thank you marketing).

What is the Cloud? A conversation.

Saturday, January 10, 2009 Category : , 2

There have been some posts about “What is a cloud?”.  Scott started the conversation in his shortakes by saying how ”amorphous and undefined cloud computing is”. Simon then gave the answer a shot by writing up some detailed notes on “What is a cloud?

Having been writing about VMware and Cloud since Sept last year, how could I stand back without entering the conversation. I think it’s a great dialog for the VMware community and enterprises to be having. Vendors respond to the market so the market needs to be talking.

Let’s define some things out here. How does the industry define cloud?
“Cloud computing is Internet-based ("cloud") development and use of computer technology ("computing"). The cloud is a metaphor for the Internet, based on how it is depicted in computer network diagrams, and is an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it conceals. It is a style of computing in which IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service”, allowing users to access technology-enabled services from the Internet ("in the cloud") without knowledge of, expertise with, or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.”
“Cloud computing is “a style of computing where massively scalable IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’ across the Internet to multiple external customers.”

“Cloud Computing = an emerging IT development, deployment and delivery model, enabling real-time delivery of products, services and solutions over the Internet (i.e., enabling cloud services)”

“Cloud Computing is a lightweight entry/exit service acquisition model, consumption based pricing, accessible using standard internet protocols, elastic and improved economics due to shared infrastructure.”

Now what are the common elements amongst these definitions? I think a lot of these and other broader characteristic based definitions can be solidified into three core elements.

Remote delivery. 
Usually described as over the Internet but its just as valid for delivery to be via a private network. After all the term cloud comes from the traditional method of drawing the Internet, or a Wide Area Network (WAN), on a network diagram.
Whether you call in resources on demand or scalable the intent here is the elastic nature. This core element shows how the core elements can be broken down into further frequently derived characteristics. Due to elasticity more flexible pricing models may be used, such as pay as you go.
Service delivery.
All of the definitions described what is delivered as a service. This service is what abstracts the underlying technology from the delivery of that technology. What this requires is standards on how that service is delivered which we will expand on more shortly. 
As a great preacher I know always says “What is this text not telling us?” What is not cloud computing.  I think Wikipedia has a good statement on this.
“Cloud computing is often confused with grid computing, ("a form of distributed computing whereby a 'super and virtual computer' is composed of a cluster of networked, loosely-coupled computers, acting in concert to perform very large tasks"), utility computing (the "packaging of computing resources, such as computation and storage, as a metered service similar to a traditional public utility such as electricity") and autonomic computing ("computer systems capable of self-management"). Indeed many cloud computing deployments are today powered by grids, have autonomic characteristics and are billed like utilities, but cloud computing can be seen as a natural next step from the grid-utility model.”
VMware support this view of what Cloud is not. In the VMware whitepaper “IT in the Cloud: Using VMware vCloud for Reliable, Flexible, Shared IT Resources” it is stated that “cloud is a continuation of utility based computing”. I think this is where some confusion exists in the VMware space as the term “internal Cloud” is often used. Internal Clouds are the morphing of you’re internal utility based computing, which is based on VDC-OS. 

Maybe we need a better definition for internal Clouds. If you have a single internal data center with a virtualized environment based on VDC-OS what you have is utility computing, not cloud. Once you have two data centers and start choosing to pull services from either one, over your network, you just turned each of them into an internal Cloud, because now they are providing elastic capacity to each other and we have an element of remote delivery of a service, hence matching our definition of Cloud. Once you start to describing, moving and orchestrating these services (workloads) with vCloud, we are truly Cloudy, all be it internally. 

I wonder if we need this distinction for internal Clouds and if this segmentation is right? Maybe we can get Bill Shelton to comment and give some insights on this proposed distinction.

Now let’s get back to this service delivery part of the definition as I think this is very important. Any of these clouds, no matter if they are yours or someone else’s all deliver some form of service. There are many different services and interaction which will be to a standard or an API that may be either propriety or open. By now I think we can take it as a accepted that there are three types of services categories delivered via Cloud. These are Software or Application (SaaS), Platform (PaaS) and Infrastructure (IaaS). Let’s delved into these.

Software as a Service (SaaS). 
Software is essentially applications services where all of the applications and data are stored within the cloud. Here we are being provided a high level service which will include nearly all of the elements apart from the client interface. Popular examples are Salesforce.com, Webex, Gmail. Google Apps. Each of these delivers a service to a standard that is propriety or open (such as HTTP). There are other software services provided within SaaS, what about Google News which is a Cloud service provided by an open standard of either (HTTP or RSS). The use case here is if as an organization you need a new application, you can go to the cloud for delivery and you only need to manage the client end.
Platform as a Service (PaaS). 
Platform is the building blocks for delivering an application service. Examples of platforms are resources such as computing execution cycles, storage, authentication. You need to provide some magic sauce to make effective us of a PaaS, whether that be in the form of code to be executed, data to be stored and you will need to integrate that into whatever application it is that you have. Popular examples are Google App Engine, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, 3tera. Again, each of these delivers the service to a standard that is propriety or open (such as Python, Ruby, Hadoop, .Net, AppLogic). The use case here is if you need a particular resource, instead of managing in you can go to the cloud for delivery but you are going to need to somehow manage the integration of this service into your overall solution. That integration may be trivial or complex.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 
Infrastructure relates to computer infrastructure which typically equates to a virtualisation platform executing a machine. Examples include Amazon EC2, GoGrid. Again, each of these delivers the service to a standard that is propriety or open (such as AMI, OVF). The use case here is if you need some capacity to execute a generic machine work load, instead of building the infrastructure yourself you can go to the cloud. However you will be responsbile generally for the maintenance of the workload and all its software.
VMware fits into this cloud computing space at many levels, as I have previously described

VMware is attempting to be the platform of choice for IaaS, this is through VDC-OS and vApp. By introducing the concept of federation between clouds via the vCloud API a new model comes into play that is very attractive to the corporate market, something that does not exist in the current Cloud space. VMware lead in the virtualized datacenter and they need to quickly capture some market share in the Cloud virtualisation space too. 

There is a space for VMware in SaaS. As Bill Shelton has previously publically mentioned VMware are investing into the Virtual Appliance space. A virtual appliance can be seen as a form of SaaS and you have the advantage that you can run it locally or out in the Cloud. This also allows SaaS providers much great flexibility in how they deploy their offerings for customers.

The PaaS space is where VMware has the challenge. What VMware want here is everyone to build their systems on open standards. This allows them to be packaged into IaaS workloads that can be run anywhere (internally or externally) without lockin to propriety providers, such as Microsoft Azure. An example here is writing in Ruby and deploying in Ruby On Rails.

Lastly, as its slightly off topic. How do organizations prepare for the Cloud. Without diving into details here is what will hold you back. If you have not virtualised, centralised, automated and packaged; if you have not streamlined networking, accelerated you WAN and gained an understanding of you chargeback or costing models; you are going to be starting from the change room whilst your competitors are poised on the start line and it may be a long slow walk to get there.

Let the conversation continue.


Get ready for vCenter Orchestrator

Thursday, January 08, 2009 Category : 3

Get ready in 2009 for VMware vCenter Orchestrator. A new product page is now available on the VMware website. 

What is Orchestrator? Orchestrator is a GUI based workflow tool that interacts with the VMware API, CLI and VC UI, SSH, WMI, SMTP, SNMP, Databases and 3rd part systems. A library of prebuilt workflows (400) will be included. Orchestrator is currently used by vCenter Lifecycle Manager so its already out in the wild. 

Why do we care about Orchestrator? Well as has been predicted 2009 is the year of automation for VMware; automation is a key step on the journey to Cloud computing and vCloud and VDC-OS. On the VMware round table podcast today all of the panel agreed that automation is a big topic at the moment and a focus for the coming year. John Troyer indicated that it is seen as a precursor to adoption of the cloud.

To get a good understanding of Orchestrator, Sia Yiu, who is the Product Manager Orchestrator gave a session at the last VMworld, AD2530 "An Introduction to VirtualCenter Orchestrator: the VMware Automation and Orchestration Tool". The abstract is
Find out what the automation engine that powers Lifecycle Manager can do for your virtual infrastructure. VMware VirtualCenter Orchestrator is a key solution in the VMware product set for automating and orchestrating the virtualized infrastructure. It provides simplicity and power through a drag and drop implementation of the VI API and a complex workflow engine.

Through demo and interactive discussion, this session provides an in-depth look at the technical underpinnings of VMware VirtualCenter Orchestrator. We will show how VMware VirtualCenter Orchestrator provides significant cost savings through automating repeatable IT processes.
If you have access to the VMworld content there is an audio recording along with the presentation.

What will be interesting is to see the balance and interaction between all the PowerShell development/examples and Orchestrator. As we move closer to a release of the seperate product these details should come to hand.


VMware Community Roundtable - don't miss it again

Wednesday, January 07, 2009 Category : 0

The next VMware Community Roundtable is on in the morning (well my time anyway). However many people miss it because of timezone differences or just plain not noticing. Well, a solution is at hand.

Talkshoe have a neat widget you can load into your own webpage, blog etc that dynamically updates to the next episode date and time (as long as John remembers to do this, which he does not always do).

Here is what it looks like in use.

It reveals the time and date in your locale and the topic.

You can get a version of it for your own use at this link.

Now you don't need to get all confused with timeanddate.com and other such tom foolery. Note that if you look on the actual page on Talkshoe it even has a nice countdown timer, but this does not show you it in your local time.

What are you waiting for, go and embed it somewhere now!

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