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Ready for the cloud era

Some figures first. A virtual machine is created every 6 seconds. To put that in perspective, it’s more than the number of babies born in the US. Gartner says more than 50 percent of x86-based applications are now running on virtualised environments, and that is now increasing a rate of 9-10 percent yearly.  There are around 20 million VMs running on VMware platform , roughly around 75 percent of the total virtualised workloads and the virtualisation leader believes we are now in what it calls post-PC, cloud era.

At the recent VMworld conference held in Copenhagen, the company’s CEO Paul Maritz told the audience what characterises the cloud era and how his company plans to accelerate the journey into the cloud.  “We are going to witness the next major phase of interaction of consumer-based technologies, not just influencing, but dominating what is happening inside the enterprise. We have billions of connected users and devices, not just PCs. We have new programming frameworks, new set of applications and to be competitive in the future we are going to have to be able to gather information from many sources, analyse it and respond in real time. It is no longer sufficient to capture information, put it into a giant warehouse and find out what happened last month,” he says.

According to Maritz,  companies need to service the Facebook generation in context, real time and those kind of applications cannot be in the traditional three-tier model associated  with the client-server era. “This is going to require a new data fabric and a corresponding change in the infrastructure. The real challenge is taking the operational expense out of the infrastructure and applying  that to the new generation of applications, where the real business value is. Given the fact that customers have already made significant investment in the three-tier architecture, the question is how do we take the operational expense out of infrastructure? The key is virtualisation.”

He adds that the starting point of operational efficiency is virtualisation and the big story of the next decade would be  application renewal and innovations. “Taking cost of infrastructure, bringing up core things of business value and allowing fruits of these applications to be presented to the users in a manner they want is the real challenge. We are already extending the capabilities of vSphere platform to encapsulate the most demanding and mission-critical applications. But the question is what do need beyond virtualisation to achieve maximum operational efficiency and the short answer is private cloud.  We are going to assemble a complete suite of products that will enable you to build private cloud,” says Maritz.

At the show, VMware announced a slew of new and updated software suites to simplify management and help enterprises virtualise more of their infrastructure. This includes an upgraded version of vCenter Operations Management Suite and the new packages, vFabric Application Managment and VMware IT Business Management Suite.
The first suite to help VMware realise its strategy is a mixture of new and upgraded tools to handle both configuration and operational tasks backed up by analytics functionality. It’s called vCenter Operations Management Suite, and includes Operations Manager 5.0, Infrastructure Navigator 1.0, Chargeback 2.0, Configuration Manager 5.4.1 and a tech preview of Operations for View.

With this update, Operations Manager has new dashboards and smart alerts that will correlate performance and capacity information to identify emerging problems, help customers “right size” their infrastructure and identify and remediate performance issues caused by configuration changes. In addition, the vCenter Operations Management Suite will include new application awareness capabilities that automatically discover and map the relationships and dependencies between applications and the infrastructure components that support them.  This means customers will be able to optimise infrastructure operations such as security management and disaster recovery based on application needs.

The second management package is vFabric Application Management Suite, which is comprised of two new products: AppDirector 1.0 and Application Performance Manager1.0.

The mission with that package is to streamline and automate how the application development, release, and operations and support teams collaborate in order to improve their effectiveness, according to VMware. It has been optimised for Spring-based Java applications running on vCloud Director-based cloud infrastructures, but “existing legacy applications that enterprises are looking to modernise and provision on to new virtual workloads” are also a good fit.

The third management suite is the IT Business Management Suite, which is based on technologies from VMware’s June 2011 acquisition of Digital Fuel. VMware vCenter Protect Essentials Plus, formerly Shavlik NetChk Protect, is a complete on-premise management system designed to meet the needs of the SMB.  VMware vCenter Protect Essentials Plus will offer agentless, easy-to-deploy and cost-effective management of physical and virtual machines, software update deployment in 28 languages, asset discovery, configuration, power management, antivirus and endpoint security.

SMB play

First launched in January 2011, VMware Go Pro is a cloud service (SaaS) that makes it easy for SMBs to create, manage, monitor and secure their IT infrastructure by providing a single pane of glass to manage both physical and virtual machines.  VMware Go Pro also provides patch management, including non-critical Microsoft patches, and asset inventory tracking for SMB IT environments. New capabilities in VMware Go Pro will include the IT Advisor, which will scan and assess a customer’s physical and virtual infrastructure and then provide recommendations, guidance, alerts and actions to help customers optimise their environments, streamline management processes, improve security and expand their virtualised infrastructure. Each time the IT Advisor scans the environment, it will provide new options, recommendations and alerts to help customers quickly identify and solve problems.

With an integrated product s approach, VMware plans to the address the post-PC era by focussing on the connected enterprise. The company says what is required is a fundamentally different way of thinking about IT, where we need to think about services, not just servers and desktops. And it seems to walk the talk at the moment.

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