VMware: Hybrid cloud takes virtualization into the cloud computing era

EMC and VMware see hybrid cloud computing as the next step for virtualization. Company representatives shared what that entails at EMC Forum 2012.

VMware Inc. is the de facto server virtualization provider, and now the company is pushing for name recognition in cloud computing. VMware's hybrid cloud pitch -- heard in the keynotes and sessions of EMC Forum in Boston on December 7, 2012 -- is that IT administrators need to virtualize data centers and become service brokers or hand their jobs to the public cloud providers.

"There is a sense of urgency now to push the envelope on whatever form of the cloud is right for you." -- Bob Scordino, New England area sales representative, EMC Corp.

In an informal poll, EMC Forum's Boston attendees overwhelmingly foresaw a future in hybrid cloud, wherein organizations operate their own cloud-centric IT department interlinked with public cloud providers.

"Private clouds will be extended into the public cloud, or the reverse." -- Sanjay Mirchandani, EMC CIO and COO of EMC Centers of Global Excellence.

This shift from a fenced-in IT infrastructure to one that shares some duties and data with third-party cloud service providers requires dynamic protection from attacks, pervasive automation, cross-domain skills from IT professionals and new management tools.

"There's a lot of confusion around virtualization, cloud computing and the gray areas in between. The difference is user experience." -- John Palmieri, cloud business director, EMC.

VMware is positioning its vCloud products and software-defined data center concept as a way for IT departments to structure their infrastructure for cloud computing. VMware hybrid cloud tools take applications from silos and move them to a virtual machine (VM) concept, i.e., treating them as a group of files. The aim of cloud-centric infrastructures -- including the software-defined data center -- is to eliminate silos.

Traditional IT management tools falter in a cloud computing/virtualized data center model. Today's VMware admins using vCenter as a management dashboard should familiarize themselves with vCloud Automation Center and Director, which create resource pools defined by tiers. This IT infrastructure translates into separate virtual data centers that share resources but are secured from each other by software. IT provisions virtual data centers, for example, to the company's finance and R&D departments, wherein each department has different storage and processing power allocations sharing the same physical hardware.

"Right now, provisioning a VM takes more time and money than we care to admit. We can't keep up with AWS like that." -- Thomas Garrity, director, systems engineering (East), VMware.

With a cloud infrastructure, IT needs to act as a service broker. Amazon Web Services (AWS) began an era of publishing the price of IT; hybrid VMware clouds will let IT departments do the same. VMware's software-defined data center is a way to deliver private cloud that competes with AWS.

The vCloud Automation Center dashboard is essential to eliminating traditional data center silos, emphasized multiple presenters at EMC Forum. VCloud Automation Center arose from VMware's acquisition of DynamicOps in 2012. VMware wants to move as many operations -- management, orchestration and related components -- into the cloud dashboard as possible. Everything that is currently run out of vCenter will move to the vCloud Director tool.

Two years ago, VMware would have tried to convince IT professionals that its APIs are the best, EMC Forum presenters acknowledged. Now, the company says it accepts that AWS and other hypervisor providers, namely Microsoft, do healthy business. VMware acquired DynamicOps to work within vCloud, AWS and other environments. The DynamicOps intellectual property gives VMware a self-service catalog option for its users.

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