The James Bond franchise is almost 50 years old, and among the long-established traditions of these movies is the Bond villain — that dastardly chap who schemes to do nothing less than rule the world.
VMware is somewhat younger, but in one way it is similar to a Bond villain: there can be little doubt that VMware would very much like to rule the cloud.
What's the evidence for this?
Well, it was only a few weeks ago at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco that VMware launched its vCloud Suite, a set of products that helps you manage your VMware-based cloud infrastructure. But the world of VMware is not enough — and at VMworld Europe in Catalonia earlier this month the server virtualization giant announced an update to vCloud Suite that lets the product boss public clouds built on non-VMware infrastructure too.
It can manage these clouds and can also carry out automated policy-based provisioning of VMs on Amazon Web Services — or services based on pretty much any hypervisor you care to choose: KVM, Xen, Hyper-V, you name it. All this ability comes courtesy of a new addition to the suite called vCloud Automation Centre 5.1 that is based on the code VMware acquired when it bought DynamicOps in July.
VMware has also updated its vFabric Application Director, which is a tool that automates the deployment of multi-tier applications to the cloud using blueprints with standardized, pre-approved OS and middleware components. It now works with heterogeneous clouds — public, private and hybrid ones, including ones based on Amazon's EC2. Before it was possible to deploy custom apps based on Java, .Net and Ruby on Rails, but now vFabric Application Director also supports Microsoft-packaged applications like Exchange, SQL and SharePoint as well.
There's also a significant update to vCloud Connector, which allows you to transfer and manage VMs across VMware-based private and public clouds. Version 2.0's data center extension capabilities extend the logical boundaries of your data center, making it possible to transfer workloads across clouds over a secure SSL VPN tunnel without having to reconfigure the network once the workload has reached its destination. And its Content Sync feature lets you manage a single content catalogue across an entire hybrid cloud environment.
And there are other changes as well. vCenter Operations Management Suite has been updated to provide integrated compliance views into the operations dashboard to help customers enforce compliance with IT policies, security guidelines and regulatory requirements. And an IT Business Management Suite — not strictly part of the vCloud Suite — allows for performance and cost benchmarking against other cloud implementations.
But let's not get distracted by these last additions. What's really telling is the thrust of the first updates mentioned — a move into heterogeneous hybrid cloud computing on Amazon, Hyper-V, and Xen infrastructure. Hybrid clouds are exactly where the implementation action is likely to be in the future, and VMware's plan is that you use as much of its software for that as possible.
Of course things would be much neater for VMware if you chose to use VMware software in-house and a VMware public cloud service provider to create you hybrid cloud. Customers choosing to do exactly that are rewarded with extra features like those offered by vCloud Connect v2.0.
But the company recognizes that many companies won't use a VMware cloud service provider for the public part of their hybrid cloud for all sorts of reasons: for example, cloud computing is meant to increase flexibility and reduce costs, so why would anyone not consider cheap non-VMware cloud service providers?
That's why VMware now lets you deploy VMs and applications — from the comfort of your private (VMware) cloud control center — into any old public cloud you like. The company's cloud service provider partners are probably not entirely pleased by this turn of events, but for VMware it's just the next logical step towards cloud domination.
Postscript: As we discussed a few weeks ago, VMware is a reformed villain when it comes to pricing. Out goes the vTax and in comes a simple tariff for the new vCloud Suite 5.1: $4495 per socket for the Standard Edition, $7,495 for the Advanced Edition and $11,495 for the top end Enterprise Edition.
VMware has details of what's included in each edition on their website.
Paul Rubens is a technology journalist and contributor to ServerWatch, EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet and EnterpriseMobileToday. He has also covered technology for international newspapers and magazines including The Economist and The Financial Times since 1991.