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VMware, HP refresh Cloud Computing Offerings

By Paul Rubens (Send Email)
Posted October 19, 2011


Some say idle hands do the devil's work, but there's no need to worry about VMware or HP. These two companies have been busy as bees working on cloud computing products, many of which they announced this week.

First up is virtualization technology specialist VMware (NYSE: VMW), with three bits of news to share with the world from VMworld 2011 in Copenhagen, Denmark: an update to vCenter Operations Manager, and new vFabric Application Management and IT Business Management suites. "Management is changing in the cloud era, and traditional management approaches are buckling under pressure from the way things work in the cloud," said Rob Smoot, a director of product marketing at VMware. "For IT to remain competitive with external providers there needs to be a change in management techniques, so we are embedding management into vSphere and vFabric."

vCenter Operations Manager was introduced in March, but this update introduces integration with vCenter Capacity IQ and vCenter Configuration Manager. The idea behind this is to let customers identify and remediate performance issues caused by configuration changes and automatically discover and map relationships and dependencies between applications and the infrastructure that support them. The update will be available early next year as a free upgrade to existing vCenter Operations customers, or from $50 per VM for new customers.

The vFabric Application Management suite is made up of vFabric AppDirector and vFabric Application Performance Manager. AppDirector standardizes and automates the release and deployment of applications to the cloud using blueprints with standardized templates, component libraries and deployment workflows, while Application Performance Manager allows users to manage application performance in virtual and cloud environments. The suite is optimized for Spring, the Java application development framework VMware got its hands on when it acquired SpringSource in 2009. "What this is doing is allowing you to deploy apps to any cloud environment and then see the health of the app and why its performance might be degrading. The key point is that Java apps can streamline the process of development, deployment and management," Smoot said. vFabric Application Performance Manager should be available in Q4 2011 from $360 per VM, while vFabric AppDirector should be available in early 2012 with no word on price yet.

The IT Business Management Suite stems from technologies VMware acquired with Digital Fuel back in June. It is made up of three modules: IT Finance Manager, IT Service Level Manager and IT Vendor Manager. "Where IT is going is a broker of services," said Smoot. "You need visibility into the cost of the services you are providing, like the cost of the application layer, the facilities, the telecoms. The IT Business Management Suite provides an executive dashboard that also goes beyond the financial aspect to include issues with vendors and service levels." The suite is intended to allow CIOs to make sourcing decisions for applications, whether run in-house or in the public cloud, based on cost, risk, performance and compliance. It is due out in Q4 2011 and will be priced from $360 per VM.

HP Unveils HP Technology Consulting Services

HP (NYSE: HPQ) meanwhile, announced new HP Technology Consulting Services to help customers "transform their data centers for the cloud era," according to Frances Guida, an HP Cloud Solutions manager. The company comes up with some remarkably precise figures, claiming that its data center strategy service reduces "time to transformation" by 40 percent, while lowering a facility's lifetime costs by up to 37 percent.

The company is also expanding its CloudSystem ecosystem with CloudSystem Financing so customers can get financing as part of a CloudSystem package. "Customers are worried about up-front payments and want to pay as they go," explained Guida. Service providers can sign up to a stepped payment plan that enables them to increase their payments over time as they ramp up their public cloud services. The company is also offering professional services to help customers get up and running in the cloud quicker.

But perhaps the most interesting news from HP is the introduction of two preconfigured, racked solutions for virtualized workflows--VirtualSystem for Microsoft and VirtualSystem for Superdome 2 HP-UX. "Virtualization is the basis of every cloud system, so we are offering turnkey virtualization solutions," said Jeff Carlat, an HP director. "You can install, configure and deploy these in days, not weeks or months, to accelerate your journey to the private cloud."

The VirtualSystem for Microsoft uses the same architecture as HP CloudSystem and Microsoft's Private Cloud Fast Track. It integrates Windows Server Hyper-V hypervisor, Microsoft System Center, HP ProLiant and BladeSystem servers, Insight management software and HP networking and converged storage solutions. It is available today from $175,000.

The VirtualSystem for Superdome 2/HP-UX, for larger virtualization deployments, includes HP Integrity Superdome 2 with HP's Unix, along with 3PAR Storage. It will be available to order in early November

Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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