I attended the VMware Virtualization Forum, a scaled-down, traveling VMworld that floored in Boston yesterday. Bogomil Balkansky, VMware vice president of product marketing, gave the keynote, and talked – surprise surprise – about the journey to cloud computing.
Now, I’ve heard many, many VMware executives talk about cloud computing, but here I was struck by Balkansky’s willingness to address the skeptics in the crowd, and paint something other than a vision of automated, scalable shared-resource compute nirvana. While maintaining VMware’s commitment to cloud computing, Balkansky made dire predictions for IT managers that choose not to adopt private clouds.
Balkansky cited a recent Gartner study that finds cloud computing has moved to the #2 position on CIOs’ list of priorities, up from #14 the year before, “which basically means it wasn’t a priority at all.”
To explain the sudden jump, Balkansky told an anecdote about a customer whom he described as “a grumpy British gentleman.”
“’I’ve spent the past twenty years building a monopoly; where no one runs something that I haven’t authorized – or I shut them down,’” Balkansky quoted the customer as saying. But internal users have started going behind the grumpy IT director’s back, spurring his interest in building an internal cloud that he can control. “’I hand out Amazon EC2 sign-up sheets and tell them ‘These are our pink slips.’”
In other words, adopting private cloud is a matter of self-preservation. Sounding much like the grumpy British IT director, “If we don’t do something about [rogue internal users adopting public cloud], this will be the reality for all of us – as vendors or as IT professionals,” Balkansky said.
Meanwhile, on the show floor, attendees I spoke to were more sanguine about private cloud. At lunch with IT directors from a university, a school district and a financial services company, conversation steered away from private cloud and settled on more pressing, desktop-oriented concerns: Windows 7 upgrades, supporting wonky client-side applications, shutting down bandwidth hogs, virtualizing voice over IP, and the like. Private cloud was the topic of the day for VMware, but not for the customers I talked to.
Perhaps the reason that the private cloud message doesn’t seem to generate much excitement among current VMware users is because they don’t fully appreciate the difference between private cloud and what they’ve already done, i.e., virtualize their infrastructure.
Balkansky attempted to describe the difference. To get from mere virtualized infrastructure to private cloud, you need to standardize your service catalog, and provide end users with a self-service portal. Future products and technologies will eventually enable you to burst from your internal private cloud to the public cloud, creating the mythical ‘hybrid cloud.’
However, those distinctions may be lost on VMware users. For them, and sometimes for VMware itself, “Private cloud basically just means that you’ve virtualized,” said Ed Haletky, analyst with The Virtualization Practice.
No wonder no one wanted to talk about private cloud at lunch.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
That old saying sure doesn’t apply to the cloud computing market.
Public voting on the VMworld 2010 call for papers is now open, and the ballot gives us our first look at what the conference’s focus will be. Surprise, surprise, it’s cloud computing.
At this week’s EMC World, the annual conference from VMware’s parent company, the theme was “Journey to the Private Cloud.” It looks like VMworld 2010 will be even more focused on the cloud. Of the eight session tracks that the show will offer, four will be about cloud computing: hybrid and public cloud, private cloud management, private cloud business continuity and private cloud security. (By contrast, only two tracks even have the word “virtualization” in their titles: desktop virtualization and virtualization 101.)
Clearly, VMworld 2010 will mark the show’s transformation from a virtualization conference to a cloud conference.
BOSTON — EMC and VMware’s close relationship was on full display here at EMC World 2010 this week, as evidenced by the many announcements about VMware storage integration and other virtualization strategies.
Even though EMC has owned VMware since 2003, the two companies haven’t always been so buddy-buddy. Yesterday, an EMC executive said what many have suspected for a while: that EMC and VMware get along so well now because VMware co-founder Diane Greene isn’t in the picture anymore.
BOSTON — Yesterday at EMC World, the focus was on virtualization and private cloud. Today the spotlight is shining on EMC’s bread and butter, storage, but there’s still some virtualization news to report.
EMC made two announcements about improving storage integration with VMware. First, you can now manage its CLARiiON and Celerra storage lines through vCenter. Using vCenter plugins, you can provision block and NAS storage on the same console you use to manage your virtual infrastructure. These plugins have been available for other EMC storage lines, but this is the first time CLARiiON and Celerra are getting in on the fun.
CLARiiON and Celerra now also support VMware vStorage APIs for Array Integration, or VAAI. As EMC’s Rich Napolitano explained at a press conference this morning, there are some functions that your storage system can handle more efficiently than your virtual servers and their hosts can. VAAI moves these tasks from the host to the storage system to perform those functions faster — and free up resources for your virtual servers.
These two new features will be available for current CLARiiON CX4 and Celerra NS products in the third quarter, EMC says.
BOSTON — EMC CEO Joe Tucci took 45 minutes after his keynote this morning to answer the media’s questions here at EMC World 2010. Here’s what he had to say on a variety of topics:
- EMC’s acquisition strategy: He’s always been a bigger fan of acquiring many small companies, as opposed to making lots of blockbuster deals — although he wouldn’t rule those out completely. “I always leave the door open,” he said. “… But my absolute preference is the string-of-pearls approach.”
- VMware’s acquisitions of Zimbra and SpringSource: “VMware, even with their latest acquisitions, is still an infrastructure (company). … Our primary focus is to stay down there, but I think infrastructure is going to get redefined and get broader.”
- The role of the traditional operating system: “One of the major tasks of a traditional operating system is to manage device drivers. When you put in virtualization, that takes over that task from the operating system. … OSes over time will get thinned out.”
- x86 systems: “If you look at the performance that x86 is giving you, it’s pretty phenomenal. … We’re going to go into an all-x86 world.”
- EMC’s partnerships with Cisco, VMware and other vendors: “If you look at the building blocks needed (for a private cloud), you cannot get them all from EMC.” The Virtual Computing Environment coalition with Cisco and VMware offers integrated products, and Tucci thinks a lot of customers will take advantage of that, but he added, “I don’t ever want to force a customer to have to buy that.”
- His message to channel partners: “You are incredibly important to us, and I want to be incredibly important to you.”
In case you missed it, News Director Alex Barrett has a very interesting story up on our sister site SearchEnterpriseLinux.com. It’s about the Linux community and what she calls its “mass exodus” from Xen to KVM virtualization.
The Xen vs. KVM debate is not new, but it has definitely been picking up steam as of late. Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 has given Xen the “let’s just be friends” speech and moved in with KVM. Several major hosting providers are switching their platforms from Xen to KVM. And many Linux diehards say Xen is a huge pain to manage.
The battle lines are drawn, and the fate of the open source virtualization market hangs in the balance. (How’s that for overdramatic? I think I’ve been watching too many “Lost” commercials.)
For most of the past decade, VMware was synonymous with virtualization.
When you thought about virtualization, you thought about VMware and no one else. That’s changing now, as Microsoft, Citrix and others chip away in the hypervisor market.
And when you thought about VMware, you thought virtualization and nothing else. That too is changing now, as today’s VMforce news shows.
We’ve been hearing it for a while now: VMware doesn’t want to be just a virtualization company anymore. Well, that day is finally here. Still, VMforce has got to mean something for virtualization, right?
No, no, no! It can’t be! Please tell me it’s not true!
I used to hate the term “cloud computing” — like, in a “I totally despise this phrase and will go to the ends of the Earth to avoid using it” kind of way. I thought it was another meaningless phrase, ripped from the marketing-ese dictionary to generate hype.
But over time I realized I was fighting a losing battle, and that cloud computing was catching on — not just as a term, but as an actual IT strategy. And as an added bonus, it relies on everyone’s favorite technology, virtualization!
It still seems a little silly to say something is in “the cloud,” like it’s this magical, ethereal place, when it’s really just someone’s else data center (or even your own, if we’re talking about private cloud). But whatever, I can deal with it.
So imagine my dismay when I started reading about today’s Salesforce.com and VMware news, and I saw a new buzzword staring me in the face: “Cloud 2.” I felt like kneeling down, looking up to the heavens as rain poured down, and screaming, “WHY?!?!?!?!?”
VMware treated Wall Street to better than expected earnings for the first quarter or 2010, handily beating estimates. Revenue jumped 35% year over year to $633.5 million, and profits increased 12% to $78.4 million. The company also raised guidance for the coming year by $180 million to between $2.63 billion and $2.73 billion. But investments the company has made outside of its core vSphere and vCenter business have yet to bear fruit.
The good news came from multiple fronts: “pent-up demand” from enterprises, carry-over from the previous quarter, strong results from Europe and Asia including a windfall $8 million dollar enterprise license agreement (ELA), and a successful promotion for the its vSphere Essentials and Essentials Plus bundles, said VMware executives on an earnings call yesterday.
Investors were particularly interested in the questions of ELA renewals and average selling price (ASP).
VMware first started offering ELAs in 2007, and the first of those have started to come up for renewal. In 2007, VMware was the only game in town, but the competition has improved since then. While not providing specific numbers, CEO Paul Maritz said that the company was “gratified by the response for renewing ELAs,” and that “almost without exception ELAs that have come up have renewed.” Furthermore, the renewed ELAs tend to be for larger deployments.
Being able to maintain ASPs, meanwhile, signals to investors that the company is not excessively discounting prices and facing strong competition. And balancing ASPs will be harder for VMware as it deepens its reach in small-to-medium businesses. This quarter, investors were gratified by the fact that ASPs were flat, depsite its Essentials promo. At the same time, since the company does not break out revenue by product category, it is hard to know for certain how much of a material impact low-end SKUs actually had on VMware’s quarter.
However, VMware’s bread and butter remains vSphere and the vCenter family, and not investments in SpringSource, Zimbra, or desktop virtualization, the company admitted. With respects to desktop virtualization, “there’s a lot interest from customers,” said VMware COO Tod Nielsen as they prepare to move to refresh an aging desktop fleet and move to Windows 7. “They want to virtualize at the same time.” At the same time, “when the market is going to tip, we don’t know. Our eyes are on the ball and are making sure we will be there [when it does.]”