VMware Crosses the Virtual Data Center Rubicon

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    After signaling its intentions to create a vast ecosystem around VMware virtual machines for over a year now, VMware used its VMworld 2013 conference to describe how virtual data centers based on VMware should be deployed and managed.

    Speaking at the event, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger described how VMware intends to help IT organizations set up hybrid cloud environments that span multiple instances of VMware while deploying network virtualization software that will simplify management of virtual data centers. With the forthcoming delivery of a VMware NSX Network Virtualization Platform, VMware expects to abstract the management of networks in pretty much the same way it abstracted the management of physical servers.

    In addition to a new platform for building virtual networks that VMware will wrap its software-defined networking (SDN) technology around, VMware also announced a vCloud Hybrid Service that provides a cloud service that VMware customers can treat as an extension of their own data centers. Hosted in data centers run by VMware and Savvis, the cloud service will also be used to deliver a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering based on Cloud Foundry, disaster recovery services and desktop-as-a-service all based on VMware technology.

    Central to that effort are versions 5.5 of VMware vCloud Suite and VMware vSphere Operations Management, which have been enhanced to provide a control plane through which IT organizations can automate the management of a broad range of IT management functions.

    The company also announced VMware Virtual SAN, which provides a data plane through which virtual storage systems can be more easily shared across multiple instances of VMware.

    Given the fact that VMware is now aggressively pushing to manage the entire data center, IT organizations are faced with a complicated choice. They can either standardize on VMware technologies across the board, or look for other approaches to virtual data center technologies that would make it easier for them to manage truly hybrid cloud environments that span everything from Microsoft Hyper-V to Amazon Web Services.

    While accomplishing the latter promises to be more difficult to actually achieve, it would preserve a greater measure of IT independence in contrast to a more totalitarian vision of the future of the data center being dictated by VMware.

    With all the recent changes in technology, managing data centers is drastically evolving. Instead of managing physical devices, IT organizations will soon be managing virtual instances of everything from servers to network ports. That’s a major advancement in terms of the time it will take for any organization to respond to a request for new IT services. The only real dilemma at this point is whether an IT organization should incur risk by standardizing on one specific virtual data center platform to achieve it.

    Mike Vizard
    Mike Vizard
    Michael Vizard is a seasoned IT journalist, with nearly 30 years of experience writing and editing about enterprise IT issues. He is a contributor to publications including Programmableweb, IT Business Edge, CIOinsight and UBM Tech. He formerly was editorial director for Ziff-Davis Enterprise, where he launched the company’s custom content division, and has also served as editor in chief for CRN and InfoWorld. He also has held editorial positions at PC Week, Computerworld and Digital Review.

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