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VMware touts ease of elasticity through vCloud Air

VMware claims vCloud Air has an advantage over competitor public-cloud providers by giving administrators a familiar vSphere framework for bouncing workloads to the cloud and back again.

What is vCloud Air and where does it fit into my current data center?

VMware's vCloud Air -- formerly known as the vCloud Hybrid Service -- is an infrastructure as a service, or IaaS, offering from VMware designed to provide a public cloud based on vSphere. VCloud Air competes with other public-cloud providers, including Microsoft Azure and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2.

VMware says its software platform provides a streamlined path for moving ESXi VMs from local servers into the data centers used by VMware and back again without the need for additional management tools. VMware claims administrators versed in vSphere can use the same skill set for vCloud deployments.

The whole point of a hybrid cloud like vCloud Air is to provide a data center with scalability, yet charge only for the computing resources used. For example, a single data center would need to make a capital investment in servers and configuration when more computing capacity is needed. But many business workloads are relatively low-priority or temporary -- such as test and development tasks -- and a few workloads might present unpredictable or erratic computing demands. All of these use cases make it difficult for businesses to justify in-house computing investments.

By connecting the data center to VMware vCloud Air, a business could move some low-priority workloads to the public cloud, spin up temporary VMs for testing or "burst" workloads to the public cloud when computing demands become excessive, then bring the workload back in-house when demands ease.

The cost of hybrid cloud services typically is based on usage factors including processor cycles, memory use, network bandwidth and storage capacity per hour. This shifts the cost from a one-time capital expense, or Capex, to a recurring use-based operating expense, or Opex, giving a business the financial benefit without depreciation or long-term service agreements, issues that often complicate capital investments, such as server purchases.

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Would you consider using vCloud Air for workload spikes and other uses?