VMworld preview: All eyes on the cloud

VMware will showcase security for its cloud OS, an API for integrating internal and external clouds and improved management features at it s VMworld Europe event, which starts in Cannes today.

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VMware will showcase security for its cloud OS, an API for integrating internal and external clouds and improved management features at it s VMworld Europe event, which starts in Cannes today..

All three initiatives will be important pillars of VMware's strategy, according to Bogomil Balkansky, VMware's senior director of product marketing.

VMware is adding a security service called vShield Zones to its VDC-OS platform, which will allow enterprises to build their own so-called "internal" cloud in their own data center. The addition of vShield Zones will let users create separate zones in a cloud-based datacentre; similar to the notion of a demilitarised zone in the traditional IT infrastructure, but based on virtual machines rather than physical devices.

"Historically there has been a bit of a conflict between the security policy that is tied to the physical device and this new world of virtualization that is a lot more mobile and dynamic, and vShield Zones is really about marrying the best of both worlds," Balkansky said.

Its VDC-OS, which will allow enterprises to build their own so-called "internal" clouds in their own datacentres, has gotten a real name: vSphere, VMware CEO Paul Maritz announced during his keynote on Tuesday.

Maritz likes to think of the new architecture as a software mainframe, at least when he is talking to people over 45, and describes it as a new substrate of software that provides the foundation either for an internal cloud or a foundation for an external cloud provider.

"It allows you to very effectively pool resources together, and think of it as a single, giant computing resource," said Maritz.

Virtualisation is fundamentally about encapsulating, according to Maritz. Users can take an existing application and all the complexity around it and package it into a "black box." Then they can use virtualization and VDC-OS to handle it in a much more flexible way, he said.

VMware isn't just naming its VDC-OS platform: It is also adding new parts, including a security service called vShield Zones, to its VDC-OS platform. The addition of vShield Zones will let users create separate zones in a cloud-based datacenter, similar to the notion of a demilitarized zone in the traditional IT infrastructure, but based on virtual machines rather than physical devices.

Virtual servers, which have been grouped in a zone, can still move around like they have before, but the security policy associated with the servers will also move with them, according to Balkansky.

"What VMware is focused on doing with the Virtual Datacenter Operating System is really to bring the benefit of cloud computing to the internal data center and to allow companies to build their own internal cloud, and to make it act with the efficiency, resilience and characteristics of a cloud service provider," said Balkansky.

VMware is still tight lipped about the release schedule for VDC-OS, only saying that it will be sometime in 2009. Pricing and packaging will also be announced later.

The company is one of a growing number of vendors that see future cloud computing as a hybrid with internal and external services running hand in hand. VMware calls this scenario a virtual private cloud, something that will be made possible by its vCloud Initiative.

CIOs won't have the luxury of being able to move internal IT systems to new cloud service providers, including Google and Amazon, according to Balkansky.

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