VMware Presents vSphere Cloud OS

Apr 22, 2009

Heralded as a leap into the new era, vSphere 4.0, which was introduced April 21 as the successor to VMware's Virtual Infrastructure 3.x, is at least a logical step in the right direction upon a more sober assessment: through consolidation and automation based on an infrastructure of virtual components, a solution to satisfy turnkey IT services.

The vSphere product, considered by the company as its "first operating system for building the internal cloud" and whose name was decided by VMware employee vote, extends its previous software basis with a number of interesting features. Performance is now better: eight virtual CPUs instead of four, 256 GBytes of memory instead of 64, network bandwidth increased from 9 Gbits/second to 30, and 300,000 I/O operations per second instead of 100,000.

Even more important are the architectural enhancements that should allow building a virtual mainframe out of software components. Thus a central virtual switch per cluster, which Cisco provides in the form of their Nexus 1000v product, can replace individual VM switches. The virtual network components can be administered separately and distinctly from the virtual servers. Also, shadow copies of an instance of a failed VM can be activated, replacing the usual high-availability solution. An activated instance also spawns copies of itself to avoid any single point of failure.

Particular security measures come into play with vShield Zones that can isolate VMs based on logical trust or organizational boundaries, creating network access rules for individual hosts based on logical zones. A VM secured in this way transfers security policies with host migrations so that protections are not lost.

The coming years should see more management components added that might allow automatic in-servicing of VMs or provide users with a catalog of turnkey solutions. The prices for the new virtualization options start at around $800 and extend to about $3,500 per CPU.

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