VMware and Melbourne IT launch cloud service

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VMware and Melbourne IT launch cloud service

Compute power on demand with local presence.

Melbourne IT will today launch a cloud computing service based on VMware software and EMC storage to compete on the global stage with the likes of Amazon.com.

The Melbourne IT vCloud Express service, which will be made available in beta mode in the early hours of Wednesday morning, offers customers compute power and storage on demand with no minimum payments on a 'pay-per-use' model.

In the first phase of the rollout, customers will be able to have full control of the creation of virtual machines hosted within Melbourne IT's data centre from a web-based panel. Within a month, customers will be able to adjust parameters as granular as CPU and memory use from the web panel.

"We believe this is the first true cloud offering in Australia that is hosted in Australia," said Melbourne IT chief technical officer, Glenn Gore.

"There are a lot of claims out there but this is the only service hosted in Australia that is production ready."

Melbourne IT is one of five service providers globally to be a beta supplier of VMware's VCloud service, and will provide the VMware co-branded service to the Asia Pacific market exclusively.

Other vCloud Express service providers announced today include Terremark, Hosting.com and Bluelock in the United States and Logica in Europe.

"We are working with a group of service provider partners to use a common label to denote the kind of service people have been getting from Amazon.com," said VMware CEO Paul Maritz. "We think we can offer more choice in that market and a range of price points."

Gore said VMware intends for the service to have a common look and feel, pricing and support options across all global customers.

The beta release has a range of different hosted Windows and Linux environments available. Customers can start with the provision of a single CPU and 500MB of memory (AU$0.05c per CPU hour ex-GST), scaling up to four CPU's and 16 Gb of memory (AU$$1.44 per CPU hour ex-GST).

Gore expects the most popular option to be the 1 CPU with 1 Gb memory option, which comes in at AU$0.08c per CPU hour ex-GST.

Storage on the service will cost $0.29c per gigabyte per month ex-GST, and IP transit is free between virtual machines hosted on the service but otherwise $0.95 cents per gigabyte ex-GST, which Gore expects will be much cheaper elsewhere in the world.

The service kicks off in private beta mode and is available "on application", but Gore said it will move into public beta "within weeks."

Whilst in beta there will be no Service Level Agreements (SLA's), and no automated backup service or support available beyond e-mail support. Gore said these services will be offered at additional cost once vCloud Express moves out of beta.

Terremark, by contrast, is offering a "Google-like" beta in which services are live, fully-functional, supported and billed for customers in the United States.

Gore expects it will be early adopters such as web developers will try the service first.

Traditionally an IBM hardware shop, Melbourne IT has purchased a next-generation EMC storage platform to facilitate the service, and is also in discussions with Cisco to test the networking vendor's unified computing blade servers.

"We have aligned ourselves with the VCE (VMware, Cisco, EMC) partnership because of the integration between them moving forward," Gore said.

Gore said he expects vCloud express to throw down a challenge to the likes of Amazon.com and Microsoft Azure - especially for local customers concerned about the network latency associated with accessing cloud computing services from the U.S. or Singapore.

But it is a horses for courses decision for the customer at the end of the day.

"The only different to Amazon.com is that there is no S/3 component," he said. "On vCloud Express, you have to buy storage with compute services - it can't be purchased separately."

More to follow...

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