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VIO IaaS cloud computing expands the boundaries of vSphere

VMware vSphere has been the standard for virtualization for years now but there are some benefits to IaaS cloud computing that could draw users.

What does cloud add to vSphere?

When it comes to today's data center, there are two terms that are tossed around left and right: virtualization and cloud. It may seem like virtualization is the past and cloud is the future, and if you want to get the most out of your virtualized environment, you would do well starting to develop your virtualized environment to a cloud. This article dispels the myths and explains when moving virtualized environments to the cloud makes sense.

VMware vSphere has been the standard for virtualization for a long time. The vast majority of software defined data centers (SDDC) run on vSphere and, for the most part, it runs smoothly. Now that VMware has different cloud initiatives, including VMware Integrated OpenStack, you probably want to find out if those cloud options make sense for your environment.

To understand the possible need for an infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud, it makes sense to start by understanding the limitations of a virtualized environment. What it all comes down to is that everything in a virtualized environment is administrator driven. For certain organizations, this works fine because the administrator is responsible for the IT infrastructure. For other organizations, it doesn't work because the organization might be user driven and businesses can't wait on the administrator for the deployment of virtual machines (VMs).

The IaaS cloud is all about virtualization, but virtualization that works in a more flexible way. This allows companies to rapidly deploy VMs in a semiautomated way if the business requires. For example, think of a retail store that typically has a slow period in the summer months but gets much busier in the holiday season.

If the dynamics of an organization don't allow the business to wait for the administrator to deploy VMs, IaaS cloud computing is an interesting option. One cloud offering that is integrated with vSphere is VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO). OpenStack is an open cloud initiative in which many vendors are participating and it brings flexibility at all levels of the SDDC.

At a storage level, IaaS cloud computing brings object storage. Object storage allows you to rapidly expand storage, without the need to purchase expensive hardware. Object storage joins multiple commodity hard disks in ordinary servers to operate as one low priced storage array. This not only increases the amount of available storage but also allows you to do more with fewer resources.

Another benefit of an IaaS cloud is software-defined networking (SDN). SDN is something that VMware has been doing for a long time, using distributed switches, for example. Cloud SDN, however, raises SDN to a higher level because the standardization makes it easier to integrate third-party offerings in the cloud environment.

The core of VMware Integrated OpenStack's SDN is Nova. Nova takes care of VM placement on the hypervisor node that has resources available for it. Nova also extends to functionalities that exist in vSphere, such as the VMware Distributed Resource Scheduler. However, using Nova makes it easier to integrate other virtualization environments into one management platform.

IaaS cloud computing allows user self-service that goes way beyond the permissions that can be granted to users in a vSphere environment, which is just one aspect that really stands out. This means that users can deploy their own VMs in a context that has been carefully defined by the cloud administrator.

IaaS cloud computing expands the boundaries of what VMware vSphere has already been doing. It doesn't offer radically new features, but it does help integrate those features into a heterogeneous SDDC. Customers don't want to be bound by the products of one specific vendor anymore. VMware stepping into OpenStack is an important step in making integration with other vendor offerings easier. In the open world of the SDDC, it's better to be a nice team player than an aggressive vendor that tells customers what they ought to be doing. For users of vSphere that means that cloud might be interesting, not only for offering self-service to the end user, but also to create a SDDC that better integrates with the offerings of other vendors.

Next Steps

The IaaS cloud race is far from over
IaaS cloud computing exchange clears the path to multicloud
Building a scalable IaaS cloud network infrastructure

This was last published in November 2015

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Is the flexibility of IaaS cloud computing enough to make you consider a switch?
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We're hearing more companies that consider vSphere/ESX to be their "virtualization" platform, for cost-savings, and they are considering OpenStack to be their Private Cloud platform for application developers. 
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