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VMware's vFabric Suite Gains Automated Deployment and PostgreSQL Support

by Charles Humble on May 15, 2012 |

VMware has today announced VMware vFabric Suite 5.1, adding automated deployment, enterprise open source support, and PostgreSQL capabilities, as well as an expansion to the SQLFire in-memory database.

vFabric is aimed at simplifying typical enterprise deployments, using standard open-source components. It includes:

  • 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

Version 5.1 adds two major new components to the core product. The first is vFabric Application Director, which VMware introduced last autumn, but is now bundling into the core vFabric Suite. It automates the deployment of applications using blueprints, standardised templates, component libraries and workflows. David McJannet, director of cloud and application services at VMware, told InfoQ that, in essence, "Application Director lets you leverage the construct of a virtual machine to automate the deployment of a given topology". So, for example, if you had a web application that required a web server, two application servers, a messaging server and a database, you could set that up as a blueprint, and then each time you needed to provide resources for an application of that type the operations team could use the same blueprint.

The second new feature is vFabric Postgres, a VMware distribution of PostgreSQL, which comes in as a virtual appliance and includes support for elastic database memory to share database memory pools, and "smart configuration" to reduce tuning time after resizing virtual machines.

VMware has also ramped up the capabilities of its SQLFire, with the addition of SQLFire Enterprise 1.0. This version removes the limit on the number of nodes that can be connected together, and adds support for nodes that span wide area networks, providing a means to have globally distributed data.

Finally, VMware is also offering support to customers who would like to be able to use open-source runtime components, such as Apache Tomcat, Apache HTTP Server, without being forced to switch over to the vFabric distributions for everything. As McJannet put it,

It's openly acknowledging that developers are selecting the technologies that come in, and the operations teams want a way of providing a supported version of those open source technologies that people are bringing in. With the vFabric Suite we are really enabling that path.

Whilst vFabric represents a more conventional approach to provisioning application resources than PaaS offerings, such as VMware's Cloud Foundry, McJannet made it clear that VMware believes that is how applications will be deployed in the future.

The next generation of application infrastructure is going to be something different. In the same way we went from COBOL in the mainframe era to client/server in the UNIX era, PaaS will be the programming model associated with cloud long term. But that is a multi-year shift; so we're focused on Cloud Foundry as our PaaS offering, and vFabric Suite as the current generation of application infrastructure.

VMware vFabric Suite 5.1 is expected to be available in Q2 2012. It will be licensed per VM, with prices starting at $1,500 per VM.

VMware vFabric SQLFire is currently available, and is also licensed per VM, with prices starting at $2,500 per VM, when purchased as part of VMware vFabric Suite Advanced.

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