Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, September 24, 2023

VMware Fleshes Out the Virtual Datacenter 

VMware's expansion beyond the virtualized server to the "software-defined datacenter" reached a crescendo at a company event in San Francisco this week, highlighted by a slew of announcements around the goal of extending server virtualization across the datacenter and the services they deliver.

The foundation of its software-defined datacenter at scale strategy is a unified hybrid cloud platform that integrates public cloud services with the virtualized datacenter to speed the delivery of applications. VMware followed up this week with the introduction of it EVO SDDC (formerly EVO: RACK) hyper-converged infrastructure offering intended to make it easier to deploy and operate "virtual infrastructure as a service."

VMware also rolled out the latest version of its virtual storage area network that emphasizes data security via a "stretched cluster" feature and better vSphere replication. Separately, cloud security automation specialist HyTrust announced a virtual appliance residing between IT administrators and vSphere that adds role-based access controls to virtual infrastructure. HyTrust said the latest version of its security appliance adds new features to a VMware software-defined networking tool.

Rounding out the virtual infrastructure push is a VMware's entry in the application container sweepstakes: vSphere integrated containers running on its Photon platform as a way to accelerate delivery of enterprise cloud-native applications. The combined container technology and platform are intended to deliver application containers on-premises or on VMware's public cloud, vCloud Air.

Company executives stressed "integration" as the overarching theme of this week's announcements. Hence, EVO SDDC is being pitched as an automated software suite for implementing a virtualized datacenter "as an integrated system."

Meanwhile, an EVO SDDC manager provisions and monitors virtual and physical resources ranging from software and servers to switches and other datacenter infrastructure. The manager also pools resources across multiple racks as a single "virtual rack" and can dynamically provision workload domain capacity based on availability and performance requirements, the company said.

The manager's integrated software stack includes: the mainstay vSphere virtualization suite; VMware's new virtual SAN; its NSX networking tool (version 6.2 also was released this week) designed to tighten integration with physical infrastructure while managing resources across multiple datacenters; and the new vRealize cloud management tool also released this week.

The other part of the datacenter equation is scaling. VMware noted that rack-scale infrastructure managed by EVO SDDC would scale in capacity from one-third to multiple racks as well as thousands of nodes on a single server. Moreover, a "fully populated rack" would support 1,000 virtual machines, it added.

One industry watcher dubbed the VMware datacenter onslaught as its "existential transition" from virtual servers to virtual datacenters. "VMware’s play is pretty straightforward and the right answer for a company that dominates its category and is hugely vested in the traditional datacenter software," Al Hilwa, IDC's program director for software development research, noted in an email.

"They are building out their own cloud which is differentiated in being focused on enterprise workloads for companies that are mostly hybrid users of public cloud and private resources," Hilwa said.

Meanwhile, VMware is again courting developers "by adapting the benefits of virtualization to the fast moving container DevOps world," he said. A move into container-based application delivery "will also require open source ecosystem building skills that VMware has only begun to develop," Hilwa added.

The virtualization vendor said its expects partners to ship initial VMware EVO software-defined datacenter components beginning in the first half of 2016. VMware Virtual SAN 6.1 is expected to be generally available during the third quarter of 2015.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).