VMware tries to hook developers into vCloud API

VMware Inc. is trying to woo developers by launching a pair of open source software development kits (SDKs) designed to make it easier to create apps for the vCloud application programming interface (API).


The launch of the new Python and Java SDKs appears to be the virtualization giant’s attempt to hook developers into the vCloud initiative as it awaits approval from the Distributed Management Task Force for vCloud’s certification as an open standard.


With vCloud, VMware is pushing a “virtual data centre” initiative aimed at letting customers move workloads from their internal data centre infrastructure to an external cloud of virtual hypervisors.


Drue Reeves, vice-president and research director for the Burton Group’s data centre strategies division, said that while it was surprising that VMware has moved forward with these SDKs — especially considering the specifications for its vCloud API are still in front of the DMTF working group — the announcement is a step in the right direction.


“VMware realizes they’re competing with other APIs out there that may become the de facto standard while the DMTF is working on the vCloud API standard,” Reeves said. He added that because the cloud computing industry is moving at such a rapid pace, the company could not risk waiting 12 to 24 months for the DMTF to approve the standard.


“They had to come up with something pretty quickly to capture mind of hearts and developers, so that the vCloud API would be both the de facto standard in the short term and in the long term,” Reeves said.


The focus on two open source-based programming languages makes sense, he added, considering VMware’s acquisition of Web application development firm SpringSource last year.


John Sloan, a senior research analyst with Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., said that because VMware’s vCloud strategy hinges on bringing together the on-premise data centre with the virtual cloud providers, it makes perfect sense to push the middleware that will hook developers into the equation.


“If you can hook into cloud infrastructure, whether it’s internal or external, you can also hook into a development platform,” he said.


Jian Zhen, director of cloud solutions for VMware, said the company is seeing a lot of traction in the development community for its vCloud API.


VMware’s Canadian country manager Grant Aitken agreed, saying that the company’s latest announcement strongly appeals to customers using the vCloud API to build applications that add value for internal and external use.


“I met with a couple of different hosting companies this week,” he said. “Both are in the vCloud initiative and both are more than excited at what we’ve been doing to date.”


In addition to the new SDKs, VMware also unveiled open source client libraries and tools for vCloud, such as Dasein, jclouds and libcloud. These tools are aimed at supporting Python and Java development across multiple providers and highlight the open source community’s interest in the vCloud strategy, according to VMware.


All the VMware announcements, Sloan added, will be the first of many similar ones software developers can expect in 2010.


“When you talking about the cloud you have the raw managing compute power model, such as Amazon, and on the other side you have the software as a service model,” he said. “But somewhere in the middle you have the platform. And that’s what you’re going to see a variety of vendors attacking.”


For VMware, Sloan said, its vision is to basically be the common platform in the hybrid internal/external data centre.

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