A little more than a year ago, VMware ignited a firestorm by overhauling its vSphere pricing and licensing. Next week, the company will reportedly go back to the old way of doing things, in the hopes that we’ll all forget this whole fiasco even happened.
But it did happen. And it showed a serious lack of foresight on the part of VMware. The vRAM licensing model was supposed to answer the question, “How does VMware align its business model with its vision for the future?” As implemented, it didn’t. But going back to per-CPU licensing won’t answer that question either.
In case you’ve been living under a mainframe for the past 13 months, here’s a very quick rundown of the controversy:
- July 2011: VMware releases vSphere 5 and limits the amount of virtual RAM (vRAM) that can be assigned to virtual machines per license.
- August 2011: In response to customer uproar, VMware increases the vRAM limits.
- August 2012: CRN reports (and SearchServerVirtualization.com confirms) that VMware will abolish its vRAM licensing model.
Why VMware is giving in
The question now is, what’s VMware’s motivation? What changed between July 2011 and now that led the company to make this change? Signs seem to point to a less-than-overwhelming response to vSphere 5 among customers.
“I haven’t seen any hard numbers as to the uptake of vSphere 5, but there have been hints that it has not been as fast as VMware had hoped,” wrote blogger Nate Amsden. “… I have little doubt that VMware was forced into this change because of slow uptake and outright switching to other platforms. They tried to see how much leverage they had at customers and realized they don’t have as much as they thought they had.”
Elizabeth H. Henlin, analyst with Technology Business Research, tweeted that this change was overdue, because vSphere 5 licensing drove market share gains for VMware competitors Microsoft, Citrix Systems and Red Hat over the past year.
And blogger Gabriel Chapman wrote that going back to the old model will help VMware compete better with Microsoft, which challenged VMware on price.
“This also takes away a key leg of the Microsoft Hyper-V 3 marketing playbook,” he said.
Short-term fix, long-term problem
With those comments in mind, it’s easy to see why VMware made this move: to address an immediate problem. In the long term, however, bigger problems await.
VMware championed cloud computing for years, and in a way, the vRAM licensing model marked the culmination of that push. You can say the underlying hardware is irrelevant all you want, but it doesn’t really matter until you put your money where your mouth is — and VMware did just that.
Assuming that VMware does in fact revert to the per-CPU licensing model, however, there’s a disconnect. The company still promotes private cloud and the utility model of computing, but its business model is based on the old way of doing things.
VMware should have better anticipated customers’ angst over new licensing and spent more time evaluating options that met customers’ needs without compromising its corporate strategy. After all, it doesn’t matter how strong a company’s vision is if it can’t figure out how to make money on that vision.
For years, the independent New England VMware User Group has held large quarterly events for the VMware community in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Hampshire. Next month, the global VMware User Group will move in on its turf.
The first Boston VMware User Group meeting is scheduled for Sept. 20. Intentionally or not, the meeting will take place on a boat in Boston Harbor, less than a mile from the site of another famous maritime revolt, the Boston Tea Party. Now we have the Boston vParty.
Before 2010, each local VMUG operated on its own with VMware’s support. In August of that year, nearly all of the local VMUGs came together and formed a worldwide, independent-but-still-closely-aligned-with-VMware VMUG. The New England group remained on its own.
That decision appears to result from dissatisfaction with the global organization’s mission, particularly its VMware-centric approach. (One of its goals is “providing a more effective interface between VMware and our customer base.”)
The New England VMUG’s shift away from this approach has been apparent at recent meetings; this spring in Newport, R.I., for example, a speaker gave a full presentation on Microsoft remote desktop and application delivery technologies.
Less subtly, this summer the New England VMUG formed a new organization, the Virtualization Technology Users Group (VTUG), whose About Us page includes this telling line:
It is the role of VTUG to ensure that the Vendors and VARs provide our end users with quality content and not inundate us with “sales pitches.”
The VTUG also plans to hold a fall event closer to Boston, instead of the New England VMUG’s traditional fall location, Atkinson, N.H.
If the New England VMUG, the nascent VTUG and the new Boston branch are all able to flourish, it will only be good for the local virtualization community. You’ll have a place to go exclusively for VMware information, and you’ll have places to go for broader but equally important topics.
If the New England VMUG suffers, however, it will continue the trend of VMware’s consolidation of power in the market. Consultant and blogger Tom Howarth caused a stir in 2010 when he pointed out that 13 of the top 25 virtualization bloggers worked for either VMware or its parent company, EMC. And at VMworld 2012 in a few weeks, more than 90% of the sessions will have a VMware or EMC employee speaking.
It’s understandable that VMware wants to control the message customers receive, but there are plenty of fiercely loyal consultants and users who can do that job just as well as (if not better than) VMware’s own employees.
VMware and the global VMUG should encourage those voices, not compete against them.
I’ve been Livin’ on a Prayer that VMware would pick a respectable band for the upcoming VMworld 2012 conference. With INXS and Foreigner headlining previous shows, however, it was hard to Keep the Faith. In fact, I’d rather Runaway and not Come Back than sit through another cheesy ‘80s hair band.
Last year, in choosing The Killers, VMware gave me Something to Believe in: The virtualization company could attract musicians who weren’t 25 years past their prime.
If you haven’t booked your hotel room for VMworld 2012, prepared to be gouged. I haven’t seen prices this marked up since I tried buying milk and bread before Hurricane Irene.
After seeing some Twitter users grumbling about hotel rates around the Moscone Convention Center, I decided to investigate (i.e., go to Hotels.com). I restricted my search to hotels that are less than a quarter mile away from the VMworld epicenter. After all, who wants a long trek back to bed after “networking” until last call?
On the high end, there is The St. Regis at $774 a night. The most affordable is The Westin at $381 a night. (Hurry! Only 4 rooms remain!) And there is a smattering of choices in between those prices.
That said, you could stay at The Mosser for $139 a night, but it’s a hostel and you have to share a bathroom. Just be sure to check in early, so you can claim the bottom bunk.
Luckily, many companies use travel agency for better rates. But you should still anticipate a pretty hefty lodging bill, regardless. Where’s Jimmy McMillan when you need him?
A free download is available on Microsoft’s website for those who want to experiment with the new, free version of Hyper-V.
Hyper-V Server is offered as a standalone product by Microsoft apart from the Windows Server OS. As such, Microsoft recommends it for use among “organizations who want to consolidate on a single physical server or have low utilization infrastructure workloads, departmental applications, and branch office workloads.” Other recommended uses include test / development and VDI.
Given the limited scenarios for Hyper-V Server, some Microsoft TechEd attendees at this week’s conference said they’ll hold out for the full-fledged release.
VMware and Hyper-V admins can now get a free set of tools from Veeam for backing up, copying and transporting virtual machines.
Veeam Backup Free Edition has no time limit on use, but it is limited in the amount of functions from the full Backup and Replication tool it offers. There’s no scheduler, no incremental backup, no replication, no deduplication, no Instant Recovery (Veeam’s term for its ability to run a virtual machine (VM) from a backup image), and no PowerShell support in the free edition.
What IT pros can do with the free edition is perform full backups of virtual machines; manage host and VM files (replacing a previous free offering called FastSCP); Instant File-Level Recovery (restore files directly from a backup images); and use a new feature called VeeamZIP.
VMware Forum 2012, a traveling conference for VMware customers and partners, stopped in Boston this week. If you weren’t able to attend, here’s a look at what you missed:
VMware rolled out the red carpet for attendees at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which vaguely resembles an airplane hangar.
Attendees milled around before the general session, which kicked off the event. One keynote speaker, Benjamin Gray, principal analyst at Forrester Research, spoke about how organizations are shifting toward more BYOD- and cloud-based models. And Vittorio Viarengo, vice president of end-user computing at VMware, talked about how VMware is responding to the evolving challenges that are present in today’s data centers. He also showed a demo of View 5.1.
Here’s a look at the partner pavilion, where dozens of vendors and solution providers showed off their products and services. VMware’s booth featured demos of several products, including Horizon Application Manager.
Kaspersky Labs had one of the more engaging booths in the partner pavilion, where attendees could race toy cars around a track. I’m not quite sure what it had to do with antivirus software, but it got people over to the booth.
On a side note, I launched my car off the track on the first turn.
Feeding time at VMware Forum. I quickly learned not to get in the way of an IT guy and his boxed lunch.
My lunch came with a ham and cheese sandwich on a pretzel roll, Cape Cod chips and a chocolate chip cookie. Everything tasted great, except the promotional card for Dr. Dre headphones.
The event ended with a series of breakout sessions, such as this one, “Accelerate your Journey to the Cloud with Storage for VMware.” VSpecialist James Ruddy explained the different ways to architect storage arrays in cloud infrastructure.
When an Anonymous hacker leaked a page of VMware’s source code along with other documents from a compromised Chinese company in early April, he threatened that the leak was “just a preview,” and that more documents were coming on May 5.
Then, the hacker claiming responsibility for the leak reportedly told Kaspersky Labs’ Threatpost blog that among those files, a terabyte in all, there were 300 megabytes (MB) more VMware source code.
Thus, it was widely anticipated by the VMware community (including this blog) that 300 MB of VMware source code would be released on Saturday.
On May 3, VMware rushed out a bunch of critical patches for ESX, ESXi, Workstation and Player, heightening the anticipation.
The big day has now come and gone, however, and there was nary a whisper of VMware’s name on various Twitter accounts associated with the initial leak. If 300 MB more source code did hit the Internet this weekend, it was done with far less public fanfare than the “sneak preview” received.
Affected products include ESX and ESXi versions 3.5, 4.0, 4.1 and 5.0, Workstation and Player. A further description of problems associated with the patches and linked from the security update blog describes remote procedure call (RPC), SCSI driver and network file system (NFS) vulnerabilities which could potentially allow an unauthorized user execute code on a virtualized host.
With the post’s repeated use of the word “critical,” and widespread Tweeting of a link to it by VMware officials, it’s clear the patches are important. In fact, such a security update hasn’t been posted on the VMware Security and Compliance Blog since the announcement of a critical update to ESX 3.5 in 2008.
Though the post referred directly to the leak incident, what’s less clear is the exact relation of these newly announced vulnerabilities and the leaked source code file.
Enterprise IT has its eye on VMware’s next move following its confirmation that ESX server source code was leaked by a hacker this week. The leak could pose a security threat to companies with virtual infrastructures based on vSphere.
The code, which dates to 2003 or 2004, was apparently stolen from “a variety of compromised Chinese firms,” according to a Threatpost report. The code was confirmed as genuine by the director of VMware’s Security Response Center in a blog post yesterday. Although only a single file has been released publicly, the hacker claims to have another 300 MB of source code and that the rest will be published May 5.
If the rest of the code is of the same vintage, it may not be much of a threat. In fact, providing a more secure hypervisor was a primary goal of the conversion over the last year from ESX to ESXi, a set of code with a much smaller attack surface. So far, no data has been published which indicates the ESXi hypervisor is involved.
But if the remaining code published May 5 is more current, and contains information that could allow hackers to access hosts from guests, it could potentially pose a security threat to enterprises as well as cloud service providers with infrastructures based on vSphere.