VMware aims for ‘software mainframe’ with vSphere

VMware has announced a new product roadmap dubbed vSphere, which looks to tie its virtualisation system with cloud computing to deliver IT as a service it's the battle of the buzzwords, and its set to hit this year.

Indeed, building on last year's announcement of a virtual data centre operating system, VMware said the future will involve internal cloud computing systems integrated with external ones, with management tools called vCentreSuite treating the latter as though they were in-house.

Once firms have completely virtualised their data centre, the vSphere software will let them see their servers as an internal, private cloud - as well as link it all up to external clouds when needed.

The vSphere lineup which chief executive Paul Maritz unveiled at the VMworld Europe show in Cannes will replace the current infrastructure products. The "new substrate of software" will link hardware, such as storage, networks and computing with top-level systems, such as applications and middleware.

Martiz referred to the vSphere system as being like a "software mainframe," and also as a "new kind of operating system".

For example, rather than install security software for protection, IT departments can insert security at the vSphere level and have it apply across the entire system. "[It] becomes the natural insertion point for security, compliance," he said. "Do it once, it applies everywhere this new substrate becomes a means of aggregation."

"It's a move closer and closer to management at service level," Maritz said. "It's allowing IT to be more like a service."

That's the dream, anyway. At the moment, the vSphere data centre virtualisation system is still in development. While VMware promises it will be available later this year, it would not pin down release dates. Chief technology officer Stephen Herrod told IT PRO that firms were already testing vSphere.

What is actually already available is VMware's vCloud system, which is letting service providers develop cloud offerings which are in turn offered to businesses. VMware also made public their vCloud API, which it said is helping extend its existing vCloud partnerships by allowing firms to manage their cloud resources in an "interoperable" way.

Maritz also acknowledged the increasing silliness of putting the letter "v" in front of every product, laughingly telling reporters: "We have a God given right to the letter 'v'."

Click here for more virtualisation news from VMworld Europe 2009.