New strategy is all about management, says VMware CTO

More details about VMware's Virtual Datacenter Operating System, including a collection of management tools, will be provided in coming weeks, but company executives at the VMworld conference Tuesday continued to outline the broad initiative that is aimed at helping customers build internal clouds.

Using Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS), or vSphere as it is known, enterprises will be able to develop internal cloud computing systems, with the vCenter suite key to managing cloud infrastructures and applications, the company said. VMware's strategy and the products that it will soon roll out hinge on the management of the cloud.

"I think it's everything. We have a major investment in the platform layer, but it's not worth anything if you can't expose those features in a useful way," said Stephen Herrod, chief technology officer at VMware, in an interview at the event.

Using the vCenter suite, companies will be able to manage more parts of the infrastructure compared to current management tools from VMware, according to Herrod.

"Today, we don't have any application level management, capacity or configuration management. So we are basically plugging a very large number of important holes on that front," he said.

The tools in vCenter Suite will have a common look and feel within a user interface, share data and work with one another. The most common way of accessing the different features will be a set of tabs, according to Herrod.

On the application side, AppSpeed, which is based on technology VMware got when it acquired Israeli company Beehive, is one of the most important additions. "For us it's a very big deal because we have typically been thought of as an infrastructure company, but this is an application-level monitoring and discovery tool," said Herrod.

It uses network packet inspection to map out the environment and help companies figure out what is causing problems for end users, according to Herrod. It will also span the physical and the virtual worlds, which is another first for VMware, Herrod said.

As with the rest of VMware's push into the cloud space, it is keeping quiet on the details of vCenter Suite, at least for now. "We haven't announced any packaging or pricing, but the overall message is that it's a suite of interoperating components that some will ship together, and others will come in over time across 2009," said Herrod, who says more detailed announcements will start in he coming weeks.

But VMware isn't the only virtualization vendor with management on its mind. Microsoft and Citrix announced they will cooperate on the management of their respective virtualization products, and Red Hat announced management tools for servers and desktops.

Both announcements were aimed at VMware, and made the day before VMworld started, which didn't come as a surprise to Herrod.

"A lot of people announce things the night before VMworld at this point. This has become the event for virtualization," he said.

But he doesn't seem too worried about the competition, at least not Citrix and Red Hat. The virtualization industry has moved on from the kind of product announcements that VMware's competitors are making, according to Herrod. VMware has 2,500 engineers who do nothing but virtualization and to get to the same level that VMware is aiming to do with vSphere is a massive undertaking, he said.

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