VMware adds storage and network virtualisation in push towards the software defined data centre

Posted on June 17, 2014 at 8:39 pm

VMware is advancing its vision to build the software defined data centre with several key enhancements to its cloud and virtualisation stack, including an update of vSphere, the release of its NSX network virtualisation technology and a beta of VMware Virtual SAN, a platform for virtualising storage in the datacentre.

Announced at VMware’s VMworld event in San Francisco, the updates are intended to help customers move a step closer towards the goal of an entirely automated and virtualised data centre capable of delivering services on demand and adapting dynamically to changing requirements.

While VMware has built its reputation on its vSphere platform for virtualising server compute resources, the firm is now seeking to embrace networking and storage. This is necessary in order to bring the entire data centre under automated control, according to VMware’s senior product marketing manager in EMEA, Rory Choudhuri.

“The whole of your IT needs to become virtualised. In order to achieve the response times required for business-critical applications and services, it has to be completely automated. You have to take the human out of the loop,” he said.

To this end, the firm is releasing VMware NSX, which delivers the entire Layer 2 to Layer 7 networking and security model in software. The platform unites VMware’s vCloud Network and Security (vCNS) with the network virtualisation technology it gained via the acquisition of Nicira last year.

NSX, which was first detailed by VMware earlier this year, treats the physical network as a pool of transport capacity that can be carved up by creating virtual networks as required, in a similar way that vSphere pools and allocates server resources.

However, VMware said it has learned lessons since the introduction of its hypervisor, and has been working closely with the networking industry to ensure that vendors are aware of what it is doing and are on board. Dell is preparing to ship a new line of switches compatible with VMware NSX, for example.

Meanwhile, VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) is being made available as a public beta later this quarter. It is designed to take existing storage resources in the datacentre, such as SAN and NAS arrays and direct attached storage (DAS), pool this together, then present it back to the system.

VSAN implements a policy-driven control plane that automates storage consumption and management, and is being touted as especially useful for customers implementing virtual desktops (VDI) or Hadoop deployments.

Choudhuri said that VSAN has been operating successfully in private beta deployments for about six months and is “basically ready to go”, but that VMware is taking the cautious approach of pushing it out for public beta tests before a full commercial release.

VMware also announced vSphere 5.5, which adds performance and scalability enhancements, plus support for operating Hadoop deployments. The Hadoop support comes in vSphere Big Data Extensions, while vSphere 5.5 also enables configurations with twice the previous limits on physical CPU and memory.

Also extended in vSphere 5.5 is VMware’s high availability (HA) support. With vSphere App HA, this can detect failure of apps as well as virtual machines, and can recover from this automatically.

VMware also announced that its vCloud Automation Center and vCenter Operations Management Suite capabilities have now been added to all editions of its vCloud Suite 5.5. Previously, only the Enterprise and Advanced editions had Operations Management Suite, while vCloud Automation Center was only in the Enterprise edition.

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