The software defined datacenter

It went through the press recently: “VMware to acquire Nicira, a network infrastructure company.” But why should a virtualization company buy a network specialist, especially as VMware maintains a strong partnership with Cisco, one of the worlds leading network equipment vendors?

The answer can be found in VMware’s vision which was announced at this year’s VMworld’s keynote by Pat Gelsinger:

VMware wants to become the operating system for datacenters. They call this the software defined data center and define it by the following three criteria:

  1. All components of the infrastructure are virtualized.
  2. They are delivered automated, as a service.
  3. The automation is done completely by software.

In a nutshell, this reads like yet another definition of cloud computing in a data center context.

In today’s data center infrastructure, we see three types of core components:

  • Compute
  • Network
  • Storage

Virtualizing compute power is VMware’s home ground. That’s what they do; that’s what they are known for. Since the announcement of vCloud Director, they can also claim to provide the necessary software to deliver virtual machines (VM) as a service, or enable providers to do so. Software defined computing power is available today!

However, as Pat Gelsinger pointed out in his VMworld keynote, that’s only half of the journey. Once you have your virtual machine provisioned, you still need the supporting components to be able to fully consume the service. Having a VM provisioned in minutes doesn’t help if you then need to wait days (or even weeks) for the required firewall settings.

In this context, the acquisition of Nicira makes a lot of sense! Nicira, a company that specializes in software defined networks addresses exactly this issue. I am sure we will see a lot of Nicira’s technology in the next release of vCloud Director or in other new VMware products in the upcoming year. Including Nicira’s capabilities to provision network functions automated by software into VMware, is the logical next step to the operating system for datacenters.

What about storage?

Storage virtualization automation has been around for years, in one form or another. I am not sure if we will see VMware do acquisitions in that space, especially as VMware is owned by EMC². However, the vision of a software defined datacenter seems tempting also for storage companies. NetApp CEO Tom Georgens stated at VMworld that NetApp wants to be for storage what VMware is for servers.


VMware tries to counter recent attacks by Microsoft and Red Hat to its core business of server virtualization by a compelling vision of the operating system for the data center. I do agree that the software defined datacenter will be the datacenter layout of the future. However, I strongly believe that not only VMware will be capable to achieve this vision in the near future, Microsoft, IBM or Red Hat bring their products into shape, too. What was declared as the hypervisor war turns out to be the battle for the datacenter!

This blogpost was originally published on Thoughts On Cloud!

How SmarterComputing solutions can work for you

Last Saturday I finally registered my membership for car2go. You might have seen the white and blue Smart-cars in selected cities. Car2go basically is a car sharing offering, however, what fascinates me about it is the full integration with SmarterComputing and cloud technologies that brings a real value for me as a member.

I have to admit that my curiosity about how they managed to bring all these technologies together was one of my main motivations to join. I own a car, a motorbike and public transport in my hometown Vienna is definitely one of the best worldwide. so I am not really dependent on another transport option; however, the whole concept of a car sharing offering, well integrated with the Internet and mobile devices, caught my attention. Beside the fact that I always wanted to know what it is to drive a Smart-car and that is definitely one of the cheapest ways to find out.

Registrations is simple as it can be, you fill out a web form and then you just need to stop by the car2go shop to show your drivers license and pick up your membership card. Not really extraordinary until that, but now it starts getting thrilling almost as described by Sebastian in his blog post about driving as a service (

You either look on the Internet or you use the car2go smartphone app to check out where the nearest free car is parked. You see that on a GoogleMap overlay. You can then choose to reserve a car simply by clicking on it in the map. It will then be set to occupied for the next 30min so that you can comfortably walk to it and check it. Checking in means you put your NFC equipped membership card on the windshield’s lower left corner where a device in the car reads out the data from that membership card and after validation unlocks the car for you.

Because the key is in the car you can then just drive around while a fee per minute is charged to your account, regardless how many kilometers you drive. The fee is quite reasonable.

Of course, the car2go area is limited. You can drive outside that area, but you can checkout only when within the boundaries. The car always knows its exact position and sends that to the central systems. Checking out is as easy as checking in. You just place your membership card on that space on the windshield and the car is locked. As soon as you check out, the car is immediately shown as available on the maps with its exact position!

I would really like to see more of these kind of offerings. It indeed shows what SmarterComputing can do for you in your day to day life!