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InfoQ Homepage Interviews Karl Rumelhart Talks about VMWare, Spring, and PaaS

Karl Rumelhart Talks about VMWare, Spring, and PaaS


1. My name is Ryan Slobojan and I am here with Karl Rumelhart the director of Product Management at VMware. Karl, what is the cloud?

What is cloud? I think it's important to start with talking about cloud by making a distinction that really cloud can appear in two contexts: one is cloud as an architecture and the other one is cloud as a destination. So when we talk about cloud as an architecture, cloud is something that can very much be present inside an enterprise and we might call that an internal cloud, and then of course we talk about cloud as being on the cloud as in a destination.

And so just to hear what we mean by, what I mean at least by cloud as an architecture, I mean that if you have an infrastructure platform, to virtualize such a platform such as VMware offers, that has a lot of value operationally but in a typical or a traditional deployment that is not accessible directly by the consumers of that infrastructure, often developers. So the developer doesn't have direct access. But in a cloud architecture you enable self service, so that the benefits of that dynamic and virtualized infrastructure becomes directly accessible by the consumers, so that's something that is an important step technologically, it's an important step in the way we think about architectures and it applies in data centers everywhere.

We also talk about cloud as a destination, we think about cloud as a destination it's the idea of course that we are familiar with nowadays I am going on in the cloud, I am consuming, my capacity in a rental manner or through a scheme where somebody else controls it. It is important to talk about that and not talk about the cloud as one place, in fact we believe strongly that there should be many clouds compatible with each other, but they should be available from different organizations, different providers.


2. What are the asserted VMware offerings and how did they fit together?

VMware 's core foundational offering is called vSphere. vSphere is full infrastructure virtualization, I like to think about it as a foundation for the cloud but it is very widely deployed across organizations, globally a super successful product that incorporates many of the technologies VMware is known for: VMware ESX, vCenter all the VMotion, DRS distributed resource scheduling technologies and so on and so on. So this is a core foundation, is as I said used very broadly.

So vSphere as a foundation and there are a couple of directions that you can go from there. One thing that VMware offers is a large collection of what are called vCenter management solutions so there are quite a number of these solutions that really form a nice management portfolio that complements the vSphere foundation. Another important direction for us is view technology, so VMware view is our desktop oriented set of solutions, and we have a whole outstanding group of technologies under the heading view which builds again on the vSphere foundation and then I should mention vCloud which is again what you can imagine taking the vSphere foundation and really enabling cloud infrastructure, cloud built out of that foundation, either for internal use or more importantly through eco-system of vCloud partners or providers that offer vCloud services which are again ultimately built out of the vSphere foundation and leveraging the vCloud technology along with it.


3. There has been a gradual move towards open source in VMware . How will this trend continue?

Of course with our recent acquisition of SpringSource, we have the opportunity to work with people who are no more about open source so much as anyone, so we clearly have a strong commitment to that, it's very important to emphasize our absolute commitment to continuing the open source technologies, that SpringSource works with, continuing to emphasize that and make it even better than it has been before. So it's a huge part of what we care about with SpringSource and the rest of us we have the opportunity to learn from these experts in open source and no doubt will have its impact across the company but right now our focus is on integration of SpringSource company and open source technology to support them.


4. How do you see SpringSource fitting into the VMware product line?

Ok great. One thing that is very important to be clear about is that SpringSource is successful, ongoing big business and has strong products that are continuing to grow; so a really important thing about our work with SpringSource is that we will all work towards continuing that direction so no big changes or sudden moves away from the strategy that SpringSource has been pursuing. But we think that there are opportunities to get more out of the overall combined set of technology in particular we think that the more you know about applications the better a job you can do providing infrastructure applications, and SpringSource obviously being deep in frameworks, having a great understanding of the way applications are built and run, and managed, we can use that information to do interesting things across the infrastructure.

Another way to talk about this is to think about it as an emerging platform as a service. We have talked about the idea of the cloud architecture with emphasis on the infrastructure cloud, it could be internal, it could be in a public cloud but we could imagine taking that to the next level, by leveraging the infrastructure technology that VMware has traditionally provided together with the application tier technology and all the great frameworks runtimes, major technologies that SpringSource has and bringing this together in the form as platform as a service technology that can be deployed flexibly inside an enterprise or in a public cloud.


5. So what are the pros and cons of the platform as a service approach and the infrastructure as a service approach?

I wouldn't say that we should really contrast them and suggest that it's a choice between one and the other; I mean infrastructure as a service is extremely important foundation and platform as a service leveraging infrastructure as a service underneath. So in some sense they come naturally together, and having said that infrastructure as a service is of course broad, you can put anything on virtualized infrastructure, you can put vSphere technology or anything whereas making certain assumption about the application when you talk about setting up an application platform as a service. So I think both have their place and we'll see both of them in great use going forward.


6. One of the things which has limited some platform as a service offerings that have been put forward recently is that they tend to be a very constrained programming model, so what are your thoughts on that? Does it have to be this way?

That is a good question I don't think it has to be a particularly constrained programming model I mean you are working with frameworks that people want to use you are talking about the most popular frameworks in the world that's not a very constrained programming model. I really think that you have the opportunity to be open and flexible in what you offer through the platform as a service model so I can see where it's coming from but it's a little false choice to say "Well you either get efficiency but you trade off… you put yourself in a box in order to get there".

There is some truth in that and you may need it, it might be important in some cases, but I wouldn't necessarily say that you would have to become extremely narrow to be successful.

May 25, 2010