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VMTurbo brings 'invisible hand' to storage, fabrics, and public clouds

Control freaking more than your private cloud

Flush with a $7.5m cash infusion back in early May, VMTurbo is taking its economic scheduling engine, inspired by Adam Smith's "invisible hand", to more clouds and more devices.

With Operations Manager 4.0, the company is supporting a wider array of hypervisors and cloud controllers, and is branching out to storage arrays and – after a long wait – public clouds. It is also offering finer-grained control of where virtual machines can be deployed than was possible with prior releases.

Operations Manager is a little bit different from other management tools in that it has a simulation of a real-life market for compute, memory, network, storage, and other aspects of virtualized systems embedded inside of it. Think of it as the invisible hand of Adam Smith, finding the right price for a unit of capacity through laws of supply and demand, and then using that data and a market of buyers who crave resources but are limited by their budgets and service-level agreements to allocate resources. Each time a new part of the IT stack is added to Operations Manager, VMTurbo has to create a market model that makes sense for that resource and then plug its orchestration layer and economic scheduling layer into this model.

With Operations Manager 4.0, VMTurbo is shifting to a modular architecture that will allow for support for control-freaking apps, cloud controllers, hypervisors, converged network fabrics, storage, and public clouds.

With the latter, it is all about interfacing with private clouds for cloudbursting to be snapped into it, explains Lauren Whitehouse, director of product marketing at VMTurbo.

If you are just doing server virtualization inside your data center, then you want Operations Manager Enterprise Edition, which supports the key x86 hypervisors – VMware's ESXi, where VMTurbo got its start, plus Red Hat KVM, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Citrix Systems XenServer. If you are moving from virtualization to cloud (which means hypervisor provisioning and VM and workload balancing across a cluster of servers), then you get Operations Manager Cloud Edition, which supports VMware's vCloud and Citrix's CloudStack cloud controllers.

VMTurbo has joined the OpenStack community; while OpenStack support is on the roadmap, VMTurbo is not saying when it can deliver it.

VMTurbo is expanding well beyond its roots in VMware's stack

VMTurbo is expanding well beyond its roots in VMware's stack (click to enlarge)

Enterprise Edition costs $699 per socket, and Cloud Edition costs $999 per socket – which is another way of saying that interfacing with vCloud and CloudStack costs $300 per socket under management.

Only a little more than a month ago, VMTurbo was saying that it would have Operations Manager extended to support public clouds "when the market is ready for hybrid cloud," and it looks like the market has kicked it up a gear because the Hybrid Cloud Resource Controller code, which will allow Operations Manager to boss around Microsoft Windows Azure and Amazon Web Services clouds. Specifically, it can control freak the compute and storage parts of the Microsoft and Amazon clouds.

Pricing for this hybrid cloud module has not been announced yet and it is in early access for customers. VMTurbo may be able to charge a tidy sum for this functionality.

"Figuring out which workloads can burst out to a public cloud is a difficult task," says Whitehouse. No kidding. And figuring out the best price across the public clouds, and the expected performance, is also no trivial matter. Anything that automates this and helps save companies money at the same time will be welcomed.

This cloud functionality is not being extended to platform services and is, for the moment, restricted to infrastructure services.

VMTurbo is also planning to add converged fabric controls for Cisco Systems Unified Computing System blade and rack servers, IBM's PureFlex, Dell's Active System, and HP's Converged System portfolios. At the moment, Operations Manager 4.0 is certified as VCE vBlock ready, and it stands to reason that this fabric freaking will be first available on Cisco servers, EMC storage, and VMware hypervisors with the VCE brand slapped on them. VMTurbo is not saying.

The company is shipping a Storage Resource Controller add-on for Operations Manager that will plug into NetApp's FAS series arrays running its ONTAP 7.3 and higher or 8.X storage operating system.

If you have NetApp V Series open storage controllers front-ending other brands of arrays, Operations Manager can reach into the API stack of this product and plug it into the economic model.

Other NAS and SAN arrays from EMC, IBM, HP, and Dell are in the works, says Whitehouse, and the order of delivery is being driven by customer demand. This storage freak will cost $599 per socket of the servers that interface with the storage.

The 4.0 release also sports an Application Resource Controller than can reach into various parts of the application stack and play nanny; it costs $199 per socket.

Operations Manager 4.0 is not just about the new modular approach to cloud management – there have been a number of tweaks to the orchestration layer that make it better.

For instance, the software now understands disk tiering across flash, fast disk, and slow disk, and will allocate storage capacity on servers or in arrays attached to them based on the tiering rules. The software is now also aware of high-availability clustering, so if it looks out onto the network and sees five servers, but one of them is a hot spare in an HA pair it doesn't think that hot pair can have jobs allocated to it. This could happen in earlier releases, which was not good. ®

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