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By | Timothy Prickett Morgan 8th February 2011 16:58

VMware hooks up private and public clouds

Admins can now control all puffery

Another piece in the vCloud cloudy infrastructure puzzle snaps into place today for VMware, with the delivery of a tool called vCloud Connector.

With this plug-in for the vCenter management console for the company's vSphere server hypervisor and related stack, system administrators can now view and control the virtual machines running on internal, private clouds and the public clouds that are hewing to VMware's vCloud Datacenter services spec.

VMware's vCloud is a cloud fabric and related capacity management and metering tools that turn pools of servers running the company's ESX Server hypverisor (now called simply the VMware Hypervisor) and its vSphere tools for snapshotting, backing up, migrating, and securing virtual machines into a private cloud.

The vCloud Director cloud fabric controller software, formerly known as Project Redwood, was announced back in August 2010 with the goal of giving service providers a means of creating clouds that are compatible with virtualized servers running inside the corporate data centers of the world. The vCloud Director fabric, as El Reg explained last summer, has been tested to aggregate and control up to 25 vCenter consoles which were orchestrating as many as 10,000 running VMs.

In October, VMware beefed up the vCloud Director fabric with a self-service portal and workflow manager for requesting and deploying VMs, called Request Manager. This portal keeps track of software licenses and keeps companies within their budgets and license agreements with the software stuffed into the VMs. At the time, VMware also gave out pricing on vCloud Director, which costs $150 per VM under management.

The basic vSphere Enterprise Plus hypervisor stack costs $4,369 per socket per server and vCenter, which in theory can manage up to 1,000 hosts and up to 10,000 running VMs per instance, costs $6,244. The Request Manager portal costs $100 per VM under management, and a virtual machine capacity planning add-on called Capacity IQ costs another $75 per VM.

When VMware debuted vCloud Director last summer, it also announced a program for service providers to get certified using the vCloud Director software in precise ways and thereby gain certification that their public clouds would be compatible with each other and with the private clouds being created by companies.

"Our partners have agreed to implement the same core software to provide for virtual machines the equivalent of roaming on mobile phone networks," says Mathew Lodge, senior director of cloud services at VMware.

VMware offers two levels of certification for vClouds. Those that have the vCloud Powered branding have installed the vCloud stack in their public clouds and have gone through a light audit by VMware to make sure they are running properly. Those with the vCloud Datacenter branding are offering a co-branded service in conjunction with VMware, and there is a requirement to set up the software using reference architectures and a very rigorous compatibility testing regimen.

The former might be used by a hosting provider that is looking to differentiate their cloud offering in some way, such as integrating with security or telecom networks in a unique way, while the latter is to ensure absolute compatibility between private clouds and public clouds running the vSphere stack.

Which brings us to vCloud Connector, announced today. With this plug in, VMs running internally and externally in multiple vSphere-based public clouds can be managed from a single admin pane, called the VMware Client, the GUI for vCenter. The connector is the mechanism that allows virtual machines running on one side of the corporate firewall to be moved to the other side, all with a drag-and-drop interface.

This migration is not yet a live migration of running VMs, but rather the snapshot encapsulation of a VM into an OVF format that can be moved from the internal VM catalog to the public catalog and vice versa. While VMware has demonstrated live migration between public and private clouds, this feature is not yet available commercially, according to Lodge.

vCloud Connector is free and works with either vSphere 4.0 or 4.1. It will be available for download later this month.

In addition to announcing the vCloud Connector plug-in today, VMware is also announcing that Colt, a UK-based service provider that runs 19 data centers across Europe, has passed its vCloud Datacenter certification, as has telecom giant Verizon (separate from its pending $1.4bn acquisition of Terremark) and US-based hosting provider BlueLock. Terremark and SingTel have VMware-based cloud services, but are not yet certified on vCloud, according to Lodge. ®

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