The future of IT is all cloud all the time and VMware is doing its part to make it happen.

That was the essence of the opening keynote address at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco, which saw three main speakers make the case. Intended to set the table for the four days of sessions that follow, the speakers discussed a slew of new or enhanced products, each time urging attendees to dig deeper and learn more.

The address also saw a passing of the torch, as outgoing CEO Paul Maritz spoke for a few minutes before handing “custodianship of this community” to his successor, Pat Gelsinger. Gelsinger is making the jump to VMware from parent EMC, which is where Maritz is heading. At Gelsinger’s urging, Maritz got a robust, lengthy and well-deserved ovation from the VMworld crowd.

Well-deserved because when Maritz joined VMware in 2008, about 25% of applications were virtualized. Today, he said the figure is about 60%. That’s good progress by any measure.

Other highlights from the keynote:
The debut of vCloud Suite, which is intended to be a comprehensive package that includes everything required to build a cloud-enabled data center. The package includes:

  • vSphere virtualization software
  • vCloud Director for automated provisioning
  • vCloud Connector for dynamic transfer of workloads between private and public clouds.
  • vCloud Networking and Security for software defined networking, security, and ecosystem integration
  • vCenter Site Recovery Manager, which provides automated disaster recovery planning, testing, and execution
  • vCenter Operations Management Suite for performance, capacity, and configuration management
  • vFabric Application Director, an application service catalog, for publishing and provisioning applications

In the good news category, CTO Steve Herrod said VMware is offering existing vSphere Enterprise Plus customers a free upgrade to vCloud Suite.

What’s more, Gelsinger said VMware heard its customers say, “change your pricing.” As a result, the company is now striking “VRAM” from its v-dictionary, he said, referring to the controversial pricing scheme the company announced just over a year ago. Rather than pricing vSphere based on the amount of “virtual memory” customers use, the product will now be priced per-CPU. That announcement drew a hearty ovation from the crowd.
With its acquisition of Nicira freshly closed last week, there was lots of talk about software defined networking and a big push to tackle the next great challenge: network virtualization. Nicira invented the OpenFlow protocol that is at the heart of many software-defined network efforts and was active in the open source community. VMware is committed to continuing that work, Herrod said.

Network virtualization is a lynch pin in the concept of the software defined data center, which is really the ultimate goal. In a software defined data center, Gelsinger said, all infrastructure is virtualized and delivered as a service, and the data center is entirely controlled by software.

vCloud Suite is intended to make it easy to build a software defined data center – just as easy as it is to spin up a new virtual machine today. In a demo, an engineer created a new virtual data center in less than 5 minutes using the new tools, complete with all networking services, firewalls, load balancers, VPNs and more. He then quickly populated it with applications. My guess is it won’t be quite that easy at home but it looks like pretty cool stuff.

vCloud Connector makes it a simple matter to connect your private cloud to the public cloud provider of your choice. In another demo, attendees saw how easy it was to configure a workload to burst out to the cloud across an SSL VPN when it needs more horsepower. No changes are required to the IP or MAC address and the same load balancer that runs in the local data center (somehow) continues to serve the workload as if it was entirely local, Herrod said. That got him a round of applause.

I’ll leave you with one tidbit that really does demonstrate the power of virtualization. For its 5-day event, Herrod said VMware is offering 27,500 lab seat hours, with 200,000 virtual machines deployed. Think about that: 200,000 virtual machines deployed – for a temporary network. Pretty impressive.

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