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VMworld Keynote Looks to Virtual Future

VMware CTO Stephen Herrod adds texture and detail to CEO Maritz's Tuesday keynote.

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 17 -- VMware CTO Stephen Herrod took the stage this morning for the second keynote of the VMworld conference and added color to the black-and-white outlines drawn yesterday by President and CEO Paul Maritz.

Maritz talked in broad strokes about VMware's three-pronged strategy for the future of the datacenter and user-focused computing. They included an encompassing operating system-like technology for the entire computing infrastructure called virtual datacenter operating system (VDC-OS); a cloud computing initiave; and an expansion of the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) style of hosted desktops called VMware View.

Herrod added many details of what form that vision will ultimately take. VDC-OS has three main components: "Infrastructure vServices," "Application vServices" and "Cloud vServices."

The first, Infrastructure vServices, consists of three layers: vCompute, which provides more resources to virtual machines (VMs); vStorage, which Herrod said "leverages advanced technology and storage capacity with a simple-to-use model and common management framework" to orchestrate virtual storage; and vNetwork, which connects all the components of the network, like switches and routers. "The network becomes a backplane," Herrod said by way of analogy.

Application vServices is about making applications more available, more scalable and more secure, according to Herrod. A key component of these services is a new fault-tolerant architecture that, Herrod said, will eliminate downtime.

VMware Fault Tolerance uses vMotion -- VMware's technology that moves a VM from one physical host to another -- to create a "shadow copy" of the VM on another host. The twin VMs mirror each other exactly, so that if one VM fails, the other continues to work, with no disruption to the end user. VMware demoed the technology Las Vegas-style, by creating a clone of a VM running a slot machine game and moving it to another server. One of the VMs was shut down, and the other kept playing the game.

Cloud vServices is about creating an internal cloud in a datacenter that can connect with external clouds, tying together a remote computing environment. Few details are available beyond vague promises about the ability to connect various devices to cloud services.

Tying those technologies together is vCenter, VMware's name for what was formerly known as VirtualCenter. A new addition to vCenter is AppSpeed, which uses technology acquired from the company's recent purchase of B-hive. AppSpeed "looks at the behavior of apps from an end-user perspective," Herrod explained. It goes inside applications to determine problems, giving insight into VMs not previously available in VirtualCenter.

The final piece of the vision is VMware View, an evolution of client computing. With View, data, applications and a desktop environment follows a user wherever he or she goes, on whatever devices are used. That could be a desktop or laptop computer, PDA or smartphone.

Although Herrod went into much more detail on how the technologies will work, he gave no timetables on products that would help deliver this vision. As with Maritz' keynote speech yesterday, he did not address any of the internal and external threats VMwware faces, including weak stock prices, underperforming sales and the plethora of new platforms and products coming from challengers like Microsoft, Citrix, Red Hat, Sun, Novell, Virtual Iron, Oracle and others.

VMworld, which has about 15,000 attendees this year, making it the biggest ever, continues through Thursday.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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