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VMware takes its turn at cloud computing

The virtualization company announces a Virtual Datacenter Operating System and a plan to reassure enterprises that it can make cloud computing work for them.

Virtualization specialist VMware is sticking its head in the clouds, and hoping for sunshine.

The company on Monday opened up its VMworld 2008 conference with a flurry of announcements. Most notably it is aiming to turn its infrastructure products and technologies into what it's calling a Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS). Using the data center system, VMware says, businesses will be able to unite servers, storage gear, and other networking resources together into an "on-premise cloud."

Cloud computing has become one of the dominant drives in the IT sector in recent months. It's a loose term, but generally it refers to hosting applications away from local desktops and in an Internet-based computing resource, accessible by browser.

Practitioners and proponents of cloud computing range from Dell,, and Google to VMware's virtualization rival, Xen.

It remains to be seen, however, just how quickly the concept might catch on in business settings. To counter worries about such setups, VMware on Monday also announced its VCloud Initiative, which is intended to deliver a three-tiered set of offerings for "enterprise-class" cloud computing. In this effort, it has enlisted partners ranging from BT and Rackspace to Verizon Business.

To foster the development of applications for cloud computing setups, VMware unveiled several "virtual appliance" offerings, including VMware Studio for authoring and packaging, and VMware Ready, for appliance validation.

VMware's moves come as the virtualization leader is facing increased competition from Microsoft. Microsoft made a series of virtualization moves last week, including making free a version of its Hyper-V server virtualization software.