VMware Embraces Cloud Computing

imgresVMware has just announced a new version of its virtualization platform vSphere. It may not be too surprising that the new version 4.1 is introduced with a focus on cloud computing abilities and benefits, but it is remarkable nevertheless. VMware says vSphere 4.1 comes with new memory management and expanded resource pooling capabilities to “accelerate the evolution of datacenters and service providers into cloud computing environments.”

According to the company, vSphere 4.1 doubles the size of its resource pools, and triples the management power to 10,000 concurrently powered on VMs. The company also says that the new version runs 25% faster and reduces the cost per application as a result. Virtual machine applications are accelerated by a factor of 5x. The bottom line: VMware is confident enough to claim that vSphere 4.1 and the VMware vCenter product family are now “cornerstone solutions for customers and service providers building private and public cloud environments.”

It is also worth noting that, in line with its cloud computing message, VMware is changing the licensing model for its vCenter management solutions. The new model aligns licensing costs to the number of virtual machines being managed, rather than to the physical hardware. The new licensing model will be in effect on September 1, 2010 for VMware vCenter products only.

The entire product announcement is something you would expect to read from VMware, but if we remember announcements in the past, the shift in the company’s vocabulary is dramatic. I may be a bit picky here, but if I recall products of the past correctly, then they were introduced with a strong focus on virtualization. That focus is still there, but VMware is supporting the virtualization pitch with the trend of cloud computing. It is yet one more sign just how important cloud computing has become and how much traction it has. Check out ELC’s cloud projects here.

Cloud Moving Into The Enterprise Fast

Savvis this morning posted the results of a new survey, which indicates that decisions makers and executives are more and more looking to the cloud as a way to recover from the global economic downturn.

68% of 600 IT and business “decision makers” said they will have to do more with less budget and are therefore looking to the cloud as a possible way to cut cost and enable more flexible IT provisioning. Commercial and public sector respondents predict cloud use will decrease IT budgets by an average of 15%, with some respondents expecting savings of more than 40%.

76% of the same decision makes say that cost-restrained access to IT capacity has prevented them from developing or piloting projects. 55% said that this remains an issue. Cloud platforms are generally are seen as a way out of this dilemma.

It is somewhat amazing to see how far the cloud has come: 96% of respondents in the survey said that they “are as confident or more confident in cloud computing being enterprise ready now than they were in 2009,” which clearly shows that the cloud computing topic is closely followed. 70% of IT decision makers are using or plan to be using enterprise-class cloud within two years.

Singapore is leading the shift to cloud, with 76% of responding organizations using cloud computing. The U.S. follows with 66%, with the U.K. at 57%.

Also noteworthy is (in unrelated news) that PaaS provider Heroku, which hosts ELC – developedSweetyHigh, has announced four add-ons for NoSQL database services that especially appeal to developments for Twitter, Facebook, Apple iPad and iPhone. The new add-ons available are CouchDB from Cloudant, MongoDB from MongoHQ, Membase/Memcached from NorthScale and Redis. The features address the handling of huge amounts of loosely structured data, a document-oriented database technology with full index support, higher performance in databases, as well as Redis server management.

Malware Protection Moves To The Cloud

McAfee announced its first cloud-based malware protection software. Called “SaaS Web Protection” the software promises to offer traditional reporting and protection capabilities malware, spam, trojans and other Internet-borne threats. However, there is no local installation required.

McAfee’s approach appears to be a natural evolution of malware services as corporations are used to managed antivirus services for many years. However, moving malware protection entirely to the cloud is a big step nevertheless. McAfee hopes that its network services will convince corporation to sign up: “Most organizations are not adequately protected and they are spending large sums of money recovering from attacks,” the company wrote in its press release. “Industry-leading protection is mandatory for companies to continue to safely take advantage of Web 2.0 solutions.”

As other cloud services, the new product promises to reduce upfront costs and streamline the overall maintenance effort. Plus, the service is available immediately as no hardware or software needs to be actually deployed.

SaaS Web Protection is marketed as an enterprise-class service at this time. But there is really no reason why cloud antivirus services would not be available for the consumer today. Aren’t we paying a yearly fee for a renewal of malware protection service already? Wouldn’t a cloud service make such a service much more convenient?

Amazon EC2 Gets Intrusion Prevention

More security options for cloud services are a logical new step for cloud services as more users are stepping up to the cloud – including government agencies such as the U.S. Census Bureau. I already wroteabout McAfee, but Sourcefire is actually offering a security service that works inside the cloud to protect your cloud assets.

Sourcefire’s new product is based on its widely known Snort, which is now available through the Amazon Elastic Cloud (EC2). According to the developer, the service enables users to “proactively monitor network activity for malicious behavior and provide automated responses.” We have done some pretty excitingprojects based on Amazon EC2 and we have high expectations from future security solutions.

Snort apparently has about 285,000 users already and has become a common tool for intrusion prevention, which is largely supported by the open source community. The cloud version, which is made available as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI), can be updated by downloading new machine images.

Companies Are Embracing Cloud Computing

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