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VMware pros glean vSphere roadmap from CTO in VMUG videos

VMware customers hope that vSphere virtualization products will soon have more automation and integration.

VMware customers say there needs to be more automation and integration among VMware products in future releases, and it appears that they could get it soon.

VMware Inc. CTO Steve Herrod recently acknowledged that the company’s products need improvement and shared some of his own pet peeves with a VMware User Group meeting (VMUG) in Italy. His comments were videotaped and posted on YouTube.

“Those of you who know our products deeply know that they don’t fit as well together as they need to,” Herrod told the VMUG attendees. “Some have multiple databases. Some don’t look the same. Some install differently. And what I can’t stand is that currently Site Recovery Manager doesn’t work with vCloud Director.”

Orchestrator and View are two examples of the lack of integration among VMware’s products, said Bill Hill, a senior engineer working in the public sector.

“Their interfaces are completely different than that of vCenter, for example. They all have different learning curves to get functionality alive,” Hill said.

Part of the disconnect is from VMware creating products and acquiring companies, which has led to a lot of individual products that don’t work well enough together, Herrod explained.

But the company is working toward putting the pieces together, and another major vSphere release is already in beta testing, he said.

“In the next releases and heading forward, you’ll see that the products…will be sold together. They’ll have the same installation process … the idea will be that they will work a lot better together,” he said.

VCloud Director, vCenter need more automation
Another VMware customer who has experience creating a private cloud with VMware’s vCloud Director said he’d like to see more automation on the administrator’s side of the self-service provisioning process.

Creating provider networks that are carved up into network pools and made available to end users involves some manual configuration steps that require collaboration between network and virtualization administrators behind the scenes, according to Nasser Mirzai, vice president of operations and IT at Lyris Inc., an Emeryville, Calif.-based email marketing firm.

“If VMware could deliver that functionality [automatically], it would eliminate a lot of manually driven steps, and you wouldn't have to keep checking what's been used and not used every couple months," he said.

This is ideal, in theory, but very difficult in practice, according to Tier1 Research analyst Carl Brooks. Public cloud services are often used instead of private cloud tools, such as vCloud Director, because they abstract the need to manually configure infrastructure from administrators, he said.

“Shoehorning cloud-style technologies into existing IT organizations is always going to be a challenge,” Brooks said. “It’s one reason enterprise [private cloud] adoption is relatively glacial, because really doing cloud, to realize the kind of operational benefits that AWS pioneered commercially, is really hard.”

Still, it appears VMware is looking to take on this battle, and there is more automation coming for vCloud Director and vCenter, according to Herrod.

“Pretty much anything that requires you to go to a spreadsheet right now or requires email going back and forth, we’re trying to automate aggressively,” he said.

Outside of vCloud Director, VMware will need to step up its automation game with vCenter to more effectively compete with Microsoft, Hill said.

“Automation is going to be massively important as Microsoft is doing some pretty cool things with System Center 2012,” he said. “System Center is integrating application installation/configuration with server builds…Microsoft appears to be working automation at a higher level in the enterprise.”

VMware offers vFabric Application Director with hooks into vCloud Director, which is meant for developers to automatically deploy and run Java-based middleware, but according to Hill, “In a System Center/Hyper-V environment, a user or admin can request a Windows VM be provisioned and select a number of applications that get installed or slipstreamed into a vanilla virtual machine image.”

There are also some virtualization blocking and tackling left to do in many IT environments, before cloud computing and automation can come into the picture, such as virtualizing tier-one applications with high availability and unifying vSphere clusters into one pool of resources.

In addition, VMware has work to do with mission-critical apps like ERP systems and SAP, Herrod said. To push this process along, there will be an announcement “fairly soon” about Fault Tolerance with Symmetric Multiprocessing support as well as efforts to make High Availability natively application-aware.

Also, unifying disparate virtualization clusters is a “big mission” for VMware.

“You should be able to have one large cluster virtualized and be able to run all of these application types,” Herrod said. “So we spend a lot of time in the kernel making sure that performance overhead continues to shrink, especially around network latency and storage.”

VMware VXLAN plans for large, flat network
VMware plans to be a force in the software-defined networking game, which Herrod reiterated this week in a keynote speech at the Interop Las Vegas conference.

“As we roll out VXLAN, and in the upcoming versions of some of our products, you’ll see the ability to have a large, flat network, which is logical and works across different environments, including across data centers,” Herrod told the Italian VMUG.“That’s a very big focus for us.”

Hill remains skeptical.

“Networking is not VMware's core competency,” he said.

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for and Write to her at

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