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The Software-Defined Datacenter in a Multi-Cloud World

August 21, 2012

Martin Casado, co-founder and CTO of Nicira, wrote a blog today reaffirming Nicira and VMware’s commitment to open source, and specific actions Nicira and VMware teams are taking to continue leadership on OpenStack Quantum. I echo Martin’s comments and would like to share more about VMware’s commitment to this and other open-source communities as well as to the broader interoperability needs of modern cloud computing.

As we’ve partnered with our customers to transform their IT, we’ve tailored our strategy to address what we’ve learned. First of all, VMware has moved beyond managing server virtualization to managing the datacenter as a virtual entity – that includes networks, security, storage and pools of VMs.  This virtual entity is a software-defined datacenter, which you’ve heard me talk about.  Secondly, as we get deeper and deeper into this transformation, we hear very clearly from our customers that they will continue to have heterogeneous infrastructure in their purview and need help dealing with the associated challenges. Several recent VMware investments reflect our recognition of this reality and our strategy to address it. These cut across application development, cloud management, and cloud networking, which are arguably the three most critical areas for interoperability. Here is a simple visualization of our current strategy:

We started down this path with our substantial investment in the popular Cloud Foundry open source project, an open approach to Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS). Our Open PaaS strategy is a key enabler for our customers, allowing them to easily create, deploy, and manage modern applications across almost any cloud environment. Today Cloud Foundry is easily deployed on Amazon Web Services, OpenStack-based clouds, laptops, as well as on VMware-based infrastructure.

You’ve recently seen VMware announce two acquisitions that continue this trend, addressing customer challenges around cloud management and cloud networking respectively. DynamicOps focuses on self-service and automated provisioning and management of applications across VMware- and non-VMware-based infrastructure. Nicira delivers software-defined networking capabilities to VMware- and non-VMware-based infrastructure as well.

As with Cloud Foundry, these new VMware solutions address more than just the VMware portion of our customers’ datacenters. Both of these solutions address, and in fact enhance, the use of heterogeneous “pools of infrastructure”. These “pools” include VMware-based private and public clouds, but also portions of IT’s responsibility that are powered by Open Stack, CloudStack, Amazon Web Services, or even (gasp!) physical infrastructure.

As VMware executes on our commitment to open platforms, you’ll see us continue to integrate infrastructure components and management through an API-centric strategy. Nicira’s integration with OpenStack and CloudStack are examples. The foundations and APIs we have built there will allow us to bring together the existing VMware networking roadmap with Nicira’s technology and deliver the benefits to more clouds. Another example is VMware vCloud Director with the vCloud API (released under the MIT license), and we are proud to be the first cloud platform to deliver software-defined networking and virtual datacenters with version 1.0 of vCloud Director two years ago.

And we also recognize that these communities are do-ocracies. Code speaks far more than words, and you’ll see our commitment to this strategy in the contributions you’ll continue to see from VMware. These contributions will be in the abovementioned technologies, but you’ll see investments in other areas as well. We recognize that customers are asking for better integration, between the new cloud distributions and VMware’s enterprise products.  Developers who want to work with us should get in touch to get more closely involved.

The software-defined datacenter delivers cost and agility benefits to the whole datacenter in the same way that server virtualization does for compute. We drove the benefits from that first foray into virtualization 15 years ago and we are dedicated to extending those benefits now across the entire datacenter, in a way that supports our customers’ need to manage multiple clouds. It’s efficient, it’s flexible, and we are committed to keeping it open.

There’s a lot more to tell about our strategy and how we’ll continue this journey. Join me at VMworld or online at VMware Now to hear even more!

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steveherrod

Steve Herrod

Former Chief Technology Officer

Steve Herrod is a Managing Director at General Catalyst. He is the former Chief Technology Officer and SVP of R&D at VMware. As CTO, Steve helped drive the company’s technology strategy and worked with the engineering teams towards continued delivery of innovative products ... More

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