VMware prepares OpenStack for enterprise use

VMware Integrated OpenStack runs on VMware's vSphere

OpenStack running on the VMware infrastructure

OpenStack running on the VMware infrastructure

VMware wants to bring enterprise-class reliability to OpenStack by releasing a distribution of Cloud hosting software that runs on top of the virtualisation stack.

"There's a lot of interest as OpenStack to provide a developer-friendly cloud. But enterprises are really struggling to do anything real in terms of building a production cloud that they can stand behind," said John Gilmartin, of OpenStack. Gilmartin is VMware's vice-president and general manager for the company's software-defined data center business unit. "Today, standing up OpenStack requires a lot of customer development and integration work. It takes a lot of time and is expensive to do. We address a lot of challenges with OpenStack by providing an out-of-the-box solution that runs on top of VMware components."

The distribution, VMware Integrated OpenStack, is available as a preview for select customers and should be available for full release in the first half of 2015.

VMware is one of the market leaders in software to run virtual machines and cloud infrastructure. With over 500,000 customers and 75,000 partners, the company has generated US$5.12 billion in revenue in fiscal 2013. Until now, VMware has focused on developing products in-house that would help enterprises and service providers build their own cloud infrastructure.

The company can no longer ignore the growing popularity of OpenStack, however. Organizations such as Sony, Disney, Best Buy, Comcast, PayPal, Wells Fargo and others have used the software, as have a large number of academic institutions.

"VMware is a much different company than it was even a few years ago when OpenStack was established. While we see VMware as perhaps the main competitor to OpenStack, the company has also been hard at work making sure OpenStack is well supported with its other infrastructure, cloud and management software, which remains among the most prevalent software deployed by enterprises today," said Jay Lyman, senior analyst for 451 Research, in an email. "It's not surprising to see VMware supporting OpenStack just as it has embraced other, popular open source technologies and vendors."

VMware's virtualization platform and OpenStack are a good combination for a number of reasons, Gilmartin said. One is that a VMware base can provide management functions not found within OpenStack, a volunteer-led project that was just started in 2010. Nor can OpenStack address underlying infrastructure challenges, such as the ability to update a virtual machine without taking it offline.

"At the end of the day, OpenStack is a framework. It is not a product. It is not a full cloud solution," Gilmartin said. "It still needs a hypervisor. It still needs networking and storage. We can provide all those underlying infrastructure and components."

For organizations, OpenStack offers an API (application programming interface) that is easier for developers to understand, Gilmartin said. Running applications on OpenStack also helps customers avoid being locked into the VMware infrastructure, because they could move their workloads to other non-VMware versions of OpenStack.

In addition to developing its own distribution, VMware also worked with a number of other OpenStack distributors to ensure their OpenStack versions can work with the VMware infrastructure, including Canonical, HP, Mirantis, Piston, Red Hat and Suse. It has also contributed heavily to the OpenStack code base over the past several years, Gilmartin said.

VMware announced the distribution at its VMworld conference in San Francisco.

The company also announced a number of other product updates at the conference. It has updated its network virtualization software, NSX, with more security precautions. The company has bundled all of its analytic programs into a single package, called vRealize. The new version of the company's suite of virtualization technologies, vCloud Suite 5.8, now can support Hadoop 2.0 operations.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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Joab Jackson

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