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VMware: Kubernetes, vRealize Automation add value to VIO 4.0 – so pay up

VMware Integrated OpenStack 4.0 touts Kubernetes support and vRealize Automation integration, but is it enough to justify the new pricetag?

LAS VEGAS -- VMware Integrated OpenStack 4.0 touts several new features to improve performance, networking and...

scalability, but that added value will come at a price to new and existing customers.

The newest version of VIO unveiled last week at VMworld is based on the OpenStack Ocata release, with several expected improvements such as support for Kubernetes. New support for vRealize Automation opens possibilities to neutralize the challenge of OpenStack automation, said Brian Kirsch, IT architect and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

"With VIO making it easier and now vRealize Automation taking it a step further, it puts OpenStack in the reach for that many more people," Kirsch said. 

Other enhancements include live VM resizing, storage volume deletion, vCenter high availability, multiple network interface card types, guest virtual LAN tagging and firewall as a service. With resource tagging, an admin can look at multiple different networks of OpenStack and logically view them as a single network, and combine them in one logical network or tag provider networks, said Mahesh Kumar, senior director of product marketing at VMware.

Advanced vSphere capabilities through OpenStack APIs give IT pros a coherent, highly governed homogenous infrastructure, said Mike Matchett, senior analyst and consultant, Taneja Group. And that also appeals to developers who want to build to the latest agile and "open" development environment, he said.

Ryan Baker, senior technology architect of CTS infrastructure services at Cerner Corp., an IT services company in Kansas City, Mo, is satisfied the improvements in VIO 4.0. "We worked with VMware and they were very receptive to what we needed from the platform," he said. "We could not have gone with VIO if it were not for the features that were added in 4.0."

Perhaps the biggest change in VIO 4.0 is its pricetag. Many open source software vendors don't license their products but instead charge for professional services and support, while others offer a free open source version and a paid enterprise version with more features and support. VIO previously had no licensing fee, but it will now cost $995 per CPU for new customers and $495 per CPU as an add-on for vRealize Suite customers.

Nevertheless, customers frustrated with OpenStack might accept the price change as a valued service.

"While OpenStack is 'free', the use and configuration is anything but easy, and often people spend more in cost due to time on getting it running over a paid offering," Kirsch said. "The cost isn't excessive for those who have struggled with OpenStack, and with the addition of automation, it's fair."

In this way, VIO 4.0 illustrates the market trend to deliver differences in code and support that meet business goals, and aren't just bells and whistles, said Matchett.

"Vendors need to differentiate on higher value features like enterprise governance, sophisticated blueprints supported by programmable and dynamic networking, storage and compute life cycle capabilities and next-gen cloud-native application support -- e.g. container management, serverless computing," he said.

VIO is built on top of vSphere, NSX and vSAN, so the learning curve is minimal for existing VMware customers, which means it takes less time to deploy OpenStack than it would if they were using a native version.

"There's a lot of tools in the VMware ecosystem -- vRNI, vROps, vRealize Business -- that solve a lot of problems that do not have an answer for in the native OpenStack community today," Baker said.

VIO 4.0 is expected to become available later this month.

The future of OpenStack

VMware may add value to and help simplify OpenStack deployments, but questions persist around the open source platform's future as more vendors pull out.

Some IT pros with more cloud-native applications believe that the flexibility enabled through containers eliminates the need for a more customized platform such as OpenStack, so they turn to Kubernetes or Mesosphere or Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Baker said.

However, most traditional enterprises have legacy applications that can't be reworked into containers.

"[OpenStack] remains a viable alternative, and is increasingly important as a common definition for cloud related APIs – which is exactly how VMware uses it for VIO," Matchett said.

Ryann Burnett is the site editor for Contact her at [email protected]

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