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VMware Announces vFabric Cloud Application Platform 5, Simplifies Licensing and Deployment

by Charles Humble on Jun 14, 2011 |

VMware has today announced that it is changing the licensing model for the next version of its vFabric platform, which it expects to ship later this summer. vFabric is a combination of the Spring development framework and tools with VMware vFabric platform services, designed to provide an ideal development environment for Spring shops wishing to make their data center act like a private cloud.

The new licensing model is per VM, and is based on average VM usage during a twelve month period rather than the high water-mark, allowing an option for "bursting" during peak periods. VMware argues that the licensing change reflects a general trend in the industry, with a growing number of organisations shifting to a "virtualization-first" approach for new applications. The fact that shipments of virtual servers surpassed physical servers in 2010 offers a corollary. From the press release:

"vFabric 5 provides an application platform optimized for an increasingly virtualized world," said Tod Nielsen, Co-President, Application Platform, VMware. "And as applications are increasingly deployed on virtual infrastructure rather than physical hardware, our customers have told us that a virtual machine-based approach to licensing based on average usage – not peak – just makes sense."

Aside from the licensing change, vFabric version 5 introduces a couple of new features of note. The first is elastic memory for Java, which provides a pool of memory that can be shared across multiple VMs. As such it provides a mechanism for memory ballooning in the JVM, enabling a greater application server density for Java workloads. VMware has also announced Spring Insight Operations, which it says allows operations teams to leverage Spring Insight, the free performance visualization tool familiar to Spring developers. There is obviously an overhead for running a monitoring tool in production; VMware wasn't yet able to provide InfoQ with statistics but suggested that the performance cost would be negligible.

The other services of vFabric include:

  • vFabric tc Server - SpringSource's Apache Tomcat-based offering, which adds support for monitoring and provisioning applications
  • vFabric GemFire - a Java based in-memory datagrid product, similar to Oracle's Coherence
  • vFabric SQLFire - a standard SQL interface for the core GemFire technologies
  • vFabric RabbitMQ - an open-source messaging platform based on the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP)
  • vFabric Web Server - an enterprise version of the Apache web server
  • vFabric Hyperic - a second monitoring component which focuses on operating systems, virtual machines, databases and application servers, targeted at web infrastructure

With the recent announcement of Cloud Foundry, VMware now has two cloud related offerings, although there is currently little overlap between the two. David McJannet, director of product marketing for the SpringSource division of VMware, suggested to InfoQ that VMware might bring more vFabric services to Cloud Foundry in the future:

Cloud Foundry is the industry's first open platform as a service, supporting a choice of frameworks, application services and cloud infrastructures. vFabric is a set of application platform services optimized for Spring, ideally suited for vSphere, and appropriate for the needs of modern apps. Plugging vFabric application services into Cloud Foundry seems like a natural path in the future.

VMware vFabric 5 will be generally available in late summer 2011. It is offered in two versions: VMware vFabric Standard at $1,200 per VM; and VMware vFabric Advanced, which includes the SQLFire and RabbitMQ products, at $1,800 per VM. A per CPU licensing model, as before, will also be available for customers who prefer it.

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