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VMware strengthens cloud and software-defined datacentre portfolio at VMworld 2013

Archana Venkatraman

At VMworld 2013, virtualisation and cloud services provider VMware launched a slew of products and services designed to accelerate enterprise adoption of software-defined datacentre architecture.

VMware introduced the term at last year's conference, touting it as the next big thing in IT. In a software-defined datacentre (SDDC), all the elements of the infrastructure – networking, storage and security – are virtualised and delivered as a service, and the operation of the infrastructure is automated by software.

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Moving to an SDDC architecture can help enterprises take advantage of virtualisation not just in servers, but also in networking and security, storage and availability, and management and automation, the company told 22,000 attendees at its tenth annual conference.

VMware launched VMware NSX, VMware Virtual SAN, VMware vCloud Suite 5.5 and VMware vSphere with Operations Management 5.5 to push the adoption of SDDC – a year after it introduced the architecture.

The new products will fundamentally redefine the hypervisor and its role in the datacentre, said Raghu Raghuram, executive vice-president, cloud infrastructure and management, at VMware.

These products, representing the next wave of innovation in the software-defined datacentre architecture, could enable IT to build infrastructure that is simple, efficient, agile and flexible, he said.

The products

VMware NSX

The first product, VMware NSX, is a network virtualisation platform that will deliver the entire networking and security model in software, decoupled from networking hardware. With a virtual network, datacentre operators can break through current physical network barriers and achieve better speed and agility, while reducing costs, the company said.

VMware NSX combines the technologies of Nicira, which it acquired in 2012, and VMware’s cloud-based network and security services. The NSX platform will be available in the fourth quarter of 2013.

VMware Virtual SAN

VMware Virtual SAN will extend the capabilities of its virtualisation platform, vSphere, to pool compute and direct-attached storage for a resilient storage infrastructure. It will unlock a new tier of converged infrastructure to facilitate granular scaling of compute and storage resources.

The SAN product delivers “significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and test/development environments”, said the company’s executives. VMware Virtual SAN will be available via a free public beta program in the third quarter of 2013.

VMware vCloud Suite 5.5

The latest version (5.5) of its vCloud Suite includes new functionalities and broader integration features. The vCloud Suite will enable customers to build and operate a vSphere-based private cloud using the software-defined datacentre architecture. The integrated private cloud infrastructure solution will simplify IT operations while also delivering improved efficiency for all applications. It is licensed per processor, at a starting price of $4,995 per processor, and will be available in the third quarter this year.

“Thus far, customers have been underwhelmed with what they have seen from VMware’s hybrid cloud offering," said Gartner research vice-president Chris Wolf, ahead of the conference. "At VMworld, VMware needs to show that it intends to be a serious infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider to instil confidence in its customers, partners and investors."

VMware vSphere with Operations Management 5.5

Lastly, its virtualisation platform, VMware vSphere 5.5, features vSphere App HA that could help IT detect and recover from application or operating system failure. It also includes Flash Read Cache that virtualises server-side flash to lower application latency dramatically and a low-latency sensitivity feature. 

VSphere with Operations Management 5.5 is offered in three editions: Standard, Enterprise and Enterprise Plus at a starting price of $1,745 per processor.

Benefits of software-defined datacentres

According to VMware, enterprises that have moved to an SDDC architecture have experienced greater value than those that have not. Its research found that two-thirds of respondents generated new revenue when they expanded their use of virtualisation. Of those businesses able to take full advantage of a complete SDDC architecture, 85% were able to generate new revenue as high as 22%.

"The development of new software and services for the auto retail and the auto manufacturing industry globally is key to our business," said Bill Naughton, CIO of ADP Dealer Services. "The software-defined datacentre architecture enables us to deliver true infrastructure as a service and platform as a service to our lines of business."

Cosmetic company Revlon said it has saved $70.4m in expenditure with VMware infrastructure. “We have transformed IT with SDDC. VMware is core to our cloud infrastructure and has saved us money which can be used to grow the business,” said Revlon CIO David Giambruno.

Collaboration with HP to unify datacentre networks

Another highlight of VMworld 2013 was VMware’s collaboration with HP to deliver a “federated network solution” that can help enterprises gain unified automation of, and visibility into, their physical and virtual datacentre networks, to improve business continuity.

As companies embrace cloud and mobility, manual network configuration is resource intensive and error prone, according to VMware. Network virtualisation offers a centralised control plane, but does not automate configuration and provisioning of physical network devices, it said.

To solve this issue, HP and VMware are launching a joint networking product that will “federate the HP Virtual Application Networks SDN Controller with the VMware NSX platform to provide customers with an integrated approach to automating their physical and virtual network infrastructure”.

“Networks must be agile enough to enable the adoption of cloud and mobility while ensuring continuity,” said Bethany Mayer, senior vice-president and general manager for networking at HP.

The tool will provide a centralised view, unified automation, visibility and control of the complete datacentre network, improve agility, monitoring and troubleshooting. Available from the second half of 2014, the companies’ joint customers can create a unified network operations model that will simplify IT in the software-defined datacentre era, said VMware.

“A hybrid model blends the device-based and the overlay models, transparently mixing physical and virtual devices under a common control plane. This approach promises a rapid time to value, support for bare-metal endpoints – servers, networking, security appliances and so forth – and a smooth migration to an optimal mix of endpoints,” said Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa.


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