VMware answers the PaaS gloats

VMware has introduced the vFabric Database Connector to elevate its successful virtualization platform towards Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) posturing. The components include a modified FOSS database product, as well as elements of Cloud Foundry — a VMware initiative embracing a wide variety of developer frameworks. Windows Azure is controlled by Azure AppFabric, that coordinates Azure’s resources as a kind of platform bus, connecting network, storage, and resource allocations among the platform components used with Azure.

The two fabric approaches are similar, but not congruent.

The pricing of the vFabric service, at $1,700 per VM, adds multiple components that coordinate the platform via vFabric Postgres, based on and fully compatible with open source Postgres relational database construction. Postgres seems to have taken a strong position after the acquisition and fragmentation of MySQL and VMware’s use of Postgres is said to be the first offering of several database products that might be used with the fabric.

These VMware products in turn, leverage VMware’s latest "cloud OS", vSphere5, which contains tools to permit rapid lifecycle deployments of rafts of VMs poised towards internal, or hybrid clouds—as well as those supported by VMware vDirector/vCenter third parties.

The barrage of VMware fabric and lifecycle bits poise VMware against Red Hat, who while supporting Microsoft’s Windows server editions, have little community support for embracing Windows. VMware gets to be as network OS maker Novell used to be—a kind of Switzerland, neutral, for VM-agnostic hosting, management, and lifecycle considerations.

This contrasts with Microsoft’s Windows Azure support, although egalitarian in its support of Linux, is very much poised towards Windows Server PaaS. We’ll know more about Windows 2008+ server editions in a couple of weeks when they’re revealed at the BUILDWindows Conference in Anaheim, CA. For now, however, the Windows Azure PaaS platform has had a slow start owing to both its cost, and the cost of adapting current applications to the PaaS model. New applications can be deployed quickly onto PaaS constructs, but motivations have been weaker, as organizations struggle with compliance, regulatory and audit needs in migrations and application/application storage use in public cloud environments.

Where this chess piece is most prominent is in its seeming brinksmanship with Red Hat. The Red Hat KVM religion has spawned many interesting virtualization components based on the largely-Linux KVM projects, which are almost always fully FOSS, if with a bit of the F missing for added support costs. RedHat’s OpenShift is their attempt at seducing developers with PaaS resources that are as egalitarian as any—even if Windows is highly de-emphasized.

The PaaS shift and addition by VMware is both a competitive and evolutionary move. It uses Postgres, and probably isn’t a snub at Oracle and its mishandling of MySQL. Yet Oracle’s infrastructure isn’t FOSS developer friendly, and tends to avoid Microsoft infrastructure like it was the plague. While Oracle’s not going to be marginalized by a need for a competitive PaaS offering, they’re starting to lag behind the center thrust of the market. In terms of rapid application development platforms that range from IaaS (Oracle is somewhat stuck with Sun’s hardware, and therefore “unique” virtualization and IaaS offerings) to PaaS, Oracle’s now the odd-man-out. I think VMware likes that.

Microsoft still must finish Azure’s components, then entice OEMs to deliver Azure on their metal. VMware must do a bit of the same, but already has a working, if slim number of OEM platform providers. That’ll change, I’m guessing.

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