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VMworld 2014: Is VMware the Best Way to Run OpenStack?

More details on EVO:RAIL and RACK surface during second VMworld keynote address.

During VMworld 2014’s second keynote address, speaker Raghu Raghuram said something that caused a stir in the crowd.

Then he said it again:

"The best way to run OpenStack is on VMware."

That got a round of applause from the audience. Raghuram, executive vice president of VMware's software-defined data center division, then expanded on the claim, saying that integrating VMware with OpenStack would provide OpenStack-aware cloud management capabilities. VMware’s flavor of OpenStack will also be platform-agnostic, allowing for single-point-of-contact distribution from services such as Canonical, HP, SuSE and Mirantis. Such features make VMware the best-in-breed for running OpenStack, Raghuram said.

A free, open-source software suite that supports virtualization and cloud computing, OpenStack has been making news recently. Reports of its growing prominence proliferated industry coverage leading up to VMworld 2014. Apparently, VMware has taken notice.

Raghuram's bold statement challenges talk of OpenStack becoming an active threat to the company. As an affordable alternative with services that overlap VMware’s offerings, it's among the rivals nipping at the heels of the virtualization giant. But instead of combating OpenStack as an industry challenger, VMware is positioning itself for collaboration by offering its own distribution, pitched as an enterprise-ready iteration.

Signups for a beta of VMware's OpenStack distribution launched this week, with a full-scale product expected in 2015. 

RAIL in Detail

The second keynote also shed more light on VMware's newly announced hyperconverged infrastructure offerings, EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK.

Chief Technology Officer Ben Fathi spelled out what sets these products apart from standard build-your-own racks. As he began, palpable excitement spread through the crowd of thousands at the Moscone Center. The buzz was warranted. Specific details on how RAIL works have been scarce, and the proposal was described by one panelist during Monday’s breakout sessions as "vague." 

As Fathi explained, one instance of RAIL allows up to 100 virtual servers and up to 250 virtual desktops to run simultaneously, all created and deployed in under 15 minutes. Fathi described the power of EVO's technology as a building block, capable of being swapped out and reconfigured with zero downtime. A blog post from VMware chief technologist Duncan Epping supplements the EVO information rollout. 

"It's possible for you to use a standard building block and completely build out your data center," Fathi said.

To prove the reliability of RAIL, Fathi said that 20 percent of the hands-on lab demonstrations at VMworld were being powered by the new infrastructure.

RAIL is scheduled to be released by six of VMware's partners in the third quarter of 2014, Fathi said. A tech preview of RACK, a large-scale counterpart to RAIL that can prop up a cloud-based datacenter in under two hours, is being demoed at VMworld, but as yet has no release date.

To view more of our coverage from the show, visit our VMworld 2014 conference hub.

D. Frank Smith
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Aug 26 2014 Spice IT

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