The concept of the cloud means different things to different stakeholders. For virtualization vendor VMware, its vision of the cloud is enables IT to take on more of a service role in the enterprise. And it says it now has the tools to such a transformation in motion.
At VMware's VMworld conference, the virtualization vendor is expected to announce its new vFabric application fabric for the cloud, as well as security and management technologies designed to enable the cloud as an IT service platform.
VMware (NYSE: VMW) says that restructuring IT as a service, with the help of a cloud-based, self-service infrastructure and applications, can help shift enterprise IT from a cost center to providing real strategic value. And in doing so, such a shift will help VMware better position its ESX virtualization technology at the epicenter of the booming market for cloud solutions.
The vFabric product family is central to that effort, providing "the modern, integrated platform services that are required to power the next generation of cloud applications," Shaun Connolly, vice president of SpringSource Product Management at VMware, told InternetNews.com.
"The introduction of the cloud application platform is really aimed at addressing the needs of new applications for private and public cloud scenarios," he said.
vFabric relies in large part on the Spring family of frameworks and tools, which VMware acquired when it snapped up SpringSource a year ago as a way to expand into the application delivery and development marketplace.
As part of its vFabric offering, VMware will include the tc server, which is SpringSource's enterprise version of the Apache Tomcat Java application server. VMware announced tc server 2.0 earlier this year with improved integration support for VMware's virtualization technologies.
The vFabric stack also includes the Hyperic systems management platform, which was also recently refreshed in its 4.4 release, likewise sporting improved VMware virtualization support.
For vFabric data management services, VMware is integrating the GemFire technology it acquired earlier this year as part of the acquisition of software vendor Gemstone. Wrapping it all together is the Spring Framework for lightweight Java applications, which hit its 3.0 release at the end of 2009.
"Spring and related tools are the productive and portable overarching programming model for a wide range of new types of applications that vFabric will enable," Connolly said.
Connolly noted that while the components that make up vFabric can also be obtained on their own to run on physical infrastructure, he added that the intent of vFabric is to provide the best experience for enterprise deployments on VMware's ESX virtualization technology.
"You'll be able to get IT-as-a-service automation when the components are deployed on a VMware platform," Connolly said. "You get a much better integrated and automated experience when running on VMware with our Cloud Director, which is a layer of automation that will be announced at VMworld as well."
VMware's ESX Versus the Open Cloud
Though VMware has established itself as the company to beat in the virtualization sector, and is working furiously to parlay that strength into a prime position in the cloud market, Linux vendor Red Hat has been pushing its own vision for cloud services recently -- touting the concepts of open standards and cloud APIs by way of the Deltacloud project it originated.
To Red Hat and supporters of projects like Apache Deltacloud, the approach yields more flexible and portable cloud applications than can proprietary solutions.
But Connolly noted that VMware already supports the Open Virtualization Format (OVF), which provides a standard-based approach for packaging virtual machines.
And, besides, he said, the idea of cloud standards still remains relatively immature.
"It's frankly early days as it relates to standardization," Connolly said.