The Virtual Infrastructure Evolves Into The Virtual Datacenter OS

More and more details on what VMware calls the “Virtual Datacenter OS” are starting to come out of VMworld. The new CEO, Paul Maritz, is expected to elaborate on this new strategy in today’s keynote. (update: check our live blog coverage)

(Update 2: also check the coverage on Between The Lines and Virtually Speaking, both ZDNet blogs)

The VDC-OS is not a new product per se, but an umbrella name for a set of products and features, much like VMware Virtual Infrastructure is composed of ESX server, VirtualCenter and features like DRS, HA and VMotion.

VDC-OS is a natural evolution from the “virtual infrastructure” approach, which no longer only includes the virtualization servers and their shared storage and networking, but also the “next layer” in the virtualization stack, both upwards and downwards: VDC-OS no longer stops at the guest OS level, but provides application services as well, and in the other direction goes beyond the local network and is aware of the bigger picture.

The building blocks that make up VDC-OS will sound very familiar to beta testers of ESX 4.0 and technology partners. They include some new features, recent acquisitions and better integrated versions of the current product line-up, as well as third-party add-ons bearing the VMware Ready logo. All of these are called “vServices”.

The three big areas of vServices VMware identifies are:

  • Application vServices – Availability, Security, Scalability
  • Infrastructure vServices – vCompute, vStorage, vNetwork and vCloud
  • Management vServices – vCenter (the new name for VirtualCenter)

The new and current features in depth:

Application Services

  • HA, VMotion, Storage VMotion, NIC/HBA teaming
  • VMware Fault tolerance, formerly known as “Continuous availability” – which allows a VM to run on two hosts simultaneously, using lock-stepping of CPU instructions. (new)
  • vCenter Data Recovery – built-in disk-based backup and recovery of VMs and the files within them, including data deduplication. (new)


  • ESXi, a stripped-down hypervisor in only 32 MB of code, to reduce the attack surface
  • VMware vSafe (first announced at VMworld Europe), with third party support add-ons from IBM, Checkpoint, Radware and McAfee, who will announce their first products today (new)


  • DRS
  • Hot add of virtual CPU, memory and PCIe devices like network adapters (new)
  • Very large VMs with 8 virtual CPUs and 256 GB of RAM (new)

Infrastructure Services


  • CPU/Memory optimization with hardware assists, page sharing and memory ballooning
  • DRS
  • VMDirectPath – enabling wirespeed network access to VMs (new)
  • Paravirtualized SCSI – providing more iops per second at lower latency (new)


  • VMFS
  • Linked clones (first demonstrated at VMworld 2007 in San Francisco) – allows multiple VMs to run from the same base disk (new)
  • Storage VMotion
  • Thin Provisioning (new)
  • APIs to closer work together with storage arrays (new)


  • more offload technologies to reduce virtualization overhead
  • Distributed vNetwork virtual switches (new)
  • Third-party virtual switches – the first one to be announced today by Cisco (new)

Cloud Services (vCloud)

  • VMotion and Storage VMotion (within the “internal cloud”)
  • VMware vCloud (new)
  • Network vMotion – preserving network and security policies when a virtual machine is being migrated (new)
  • vApp – an encapsulation of a VM and its policies and service levels, based on OVF (new)


vCenter replaces VirtualCenter, and integrates the add-on products today known as Stage Manger, Lab Manager and the likes. It integrates withing other management frameworks from the likes of IBM and CA.

  • vCenter AppSpeed – performance monitoring and remediation to guarantee service levels. (new)
  • vCenter Orchestrator – to automate repetitive workflows
  • vCenter CapacityIQ – proactive capacity planning for entire VI environments
  • vCenter Chargeback – to allow IT departments or cloud service providers to charge based on VM usage
  • vCenter ConfigControl – called “update manager on steroids” by VMware, a central way to configure and update the virtual data center
  • Host Profiles – to standardize the setup of ESX hosts using templates

Watch out for more announcements by VMware and its partners in the coming hours and days.

About the author

Lode's been working with VMware-related technologies since 2005. Since 2010, he's a SE at VMware in Belgium. Disclaimer: The views expressed anywhere on this site are not the opinions and views of VMware. Follow him on Twitter, or contact him on LinkedIn.

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