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SpringSource vFabric cloud application framework platform

by Michael Hunger on Sep 01, 2010 |

VMWare's cloud computing strategy and infrastructure

At the VMWorld 2010 conference in San Francisco, VMWare presented its new vision for future enterprise computing: Moving everything into the cloud. Not only application services but also Desktop environments and local enterprise data-centers.

VMWare presented a series of products and technologies that should enable enterprises to evolve their IT departments to an "IT as a service" service platform. This next step in virtualization should enable IT providers to dynamically providing the necessary resources for user and business demands.

Desktops will function mainly as terminals accessing data, applications and computing power that is distributed between local data centers and if necessary global ones.

The major component is VMWare View (v4.5) which provides a desktop management and delivery architecture that uses both, distributed and machine local processing resources. For IT services VMWare View offers the simplification application, desktop, resource and user management for any size of organization.

Increased security concerns especially with the raising network connectivity and accessibility of enterprise data in networked applications will be addressed by the vShield Endpoint for centralized antivirus protection that integrates hard- and software protection mechanisms from a variety of providers.

To create virtual data-centers (VDC) out of existing enterprise resources and allow integration with existing and future cloud infrastructures vCloud Director builds on top of VMWares vSphere foundation. It extends the resource pooling capabilities to providing an integrated datacenter out of existing local resources.

ThinApp (v4.6) will provide an application sandbox and execution environment that takes single apps and packages them so that they can run on any target platform as this is abstracted through the virtualization layer. This not only provides portability and continued usability of existing applications but also enhances security by effectively boxing them. An interesting next step would be to extend this per-app runtime abstraction layer to finer granularities like projects or documents to increase security.

In the future the single user will be at the core of IT service consumption. Not devices or applications but the user and his roles and the data and processes he wants to access will define the focus. To enable this user centric service usage, VMWare introduces Horizon, a secure global user cloud identity that extends the existing enterprise user id's into the cloud platform by integrating local and global directories by using premise services.

Especially mobile users will be enabled to use the full potential of virtualized desktop environments. By providing an offline mode, network connectivity is not required all the time.

VMVare vFabric - SpringSource cloud application development platform

InfoQ spoke with Shaun Connolly, VP of Product Management, SpringSource, VMWare about this development and especially the role of the SpringFramework as the VMWare's future cloud application platform (vFabric) and the consequences for Java Developers.

For the full range of application services, that enterprises provide internally and their customers, VMWare's strategy is built on top of Java. More specifically the infrastructure provided by the Spring Framework that aims to become the same kind of universal application development framework for cloud based applications that is is in the JavaEE enterprise world today.

The reasons for that are obvious. VMWare wants to tap into the large developer resources that worldwide exist for Java development and which is already familiar with Spring (about 2.5 mio). Java scales well on virtual hardware as long as the complexity of the setup is kept under control. That's why VMWare doesn't want to focus on clustered environments - which they see as a flawed approach - but rather on easily scaleable and connected collections of lightweight application servers in the form of the tc server. tc server is an offering by springsource that adds additional management, monitoring and other HA-concerns to Apache Tomcat.

Recent acquisitions by SpringSource / VMWare include the Hyperic managment solutions, the RabbitMQ messaging system, GemFire caching infrastructure (data-fabric). Those are or will be integrated in the extended Spring offering as a cloud ready, scalable application development platform.

Tight integration with the underlying VMWare infrastructure allows the runtime to adapt to dynamic changes in load, assigned resources and failure scenarios.

On a typical VMWare node, about 3-5 tc servers will be running simultaneously which can host up to medium 10 Java(EE) applications each. ERS the enterprise version of the Apache Web handles load balancing. Scaling will be achieved by dynamically spawning new nodes, JVMs, ERS or tc servers depending on load distribution and availability.

OSGi and dm server will not be a core part of the lightweight platform, that's why VMWare transferred ownership of those technologies to Project Virgo under the Eclipse umbrella.

Springs focus will shift from a tightly integrated architectures with JPA as single storage subsystem to a more open architecture that enables cross service integration via REST, Messaging, Spring Integration, large scale batch processing and data caches (also Terracotta and Coherence) and uses a range of SQL and NoSQL solutions simultaneously to store, process and provide access to big data. All production code will be auto instrumented to benefit from the available runtime statistics and management capabilities.

To quote Rod Johnson, the creator of Spring:

With the rise of virtualization and modern development frameworks, a fundamentally more productive and portable approach to delivering new applications has emerged, We're moving into an era where developers can build great applications and immediately deploy those applications onto a modern platform that provisions and configures itself on demand and intelligently runs and scales the application based on policy.

 

Rapid development will be enabled by further focusing on Spring Roo as code generating, interactive development approach. It will be possible to define deployment blueprints that are later replicated to any number of virtual machines, application and server instances.

Currently there is no dedicated JVM for the VMWare cloud platform. VMWare added several optimizations for existing virtual machines to their execution environment. The main focus lies in the tight integration of monitoring and runtime information gathering that then can be used for scaling decisions and visualized using Springs Insight which will also be enabled in production mode.

A webinar (EMEA) is hosted by SpringSource on Sept. 29 to provide more insight into the vFabric platform.

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IT Departments by Chris Czarnecki

There are some exiting developments here for sure. I like the way that VMWare describe the evolution of the IT department. This is my view of how things will move forward as against others views that Coud Computing eliminated the IT department and associated costs - a view that helped create negative support for Cloud Computing. With this new suite of products, the IT department can evolve to make better use of existing IT resources but also provision new services and systems much faster.

OSGi and Virgo correction by Glyn Normington

> ..., that's why VMWare transferred ownership of [OSGi and dm server] to Project Virgo under the Eclipse umbrella.

Two things for the record. Firstly, VMware does not own OSGi and did not transfer ownership of OSGi to Virgo. Secondly, dm Server was transferred to Virgo in order to increase its user base and make it more usable by typical enterprise application developers rather than to omit it from vFabric (which VMware could easily have done without transferring it to Virgo).

Re: IT Departments by Winston Dhanraj

Yes, I like their way too, how they are progressing on Cloud Computing. With Virtualization they essentially offered IaaS and now together with SpringSource, they are looking to move up the value chain with PaaS. What differentiates them from EC2,Google, Force.com is that corporations can continue to build business applications in a robust Spring/J2EE framework and yet enjoy benefits of cloud computing.

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