VMware unveils “meta operating system” vSphere

Virtualisation software vendor VMware unveiled details of a new operating system for entirely virtualised data centres this morning at its European conference in Cannes, France.

The vSphere range, which the company has previously referred to as its virtual data centre operating system, will replace the existing server virtualisation products in VMware’s catalogue throughout 2009. The software allows end user organisations and third-party service providers to manage their entire data centres as a single, virtual entity.

According to CEO Paul Maritz, the vSphere range could be described as a “meta operating system”, in that it creates a single software platform on which other operating systems can be implemented and managed. Maritz described the resulting environment as a “software mainframe”.

“With vSphere, we are taking the co-operating of hypervisors to the extent that they become a kind of platform,” he said.

And by creating a “common substrate” for the entire data centre, vSphere will make data centre operations not only more efficient but also more secure and more amenable to compliance, Maritz argued.

The virtual layer between hardware and applications “becomes a place where you can do security and compliance, and know that it will extend to the entire platform”, he said. And because that layer is privy to every single event in the data centre environment, it is an ideal point from which to conduct system monitoring, debugging and intrusion detection.

With vSphere, “there is no reason why you can’t virtualise 100% of your workload in the data centre”, he added.

The vSphere initiative will also include functionality to promote interoperability “between clouds”, whether they are run internally by end user organisations or publicly by third-party providers.

“There is a danger [with cloud computing] that you will end up with a small number of ‘uber-clouds’ which are very hard to leave. We believe you should have a choice of vendors,” said Maritz. Certain vSphere products will therefore include such functionality as moving virtual machines across data centres, he said.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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