With the launch of vSphere 5, VMware’s ESXi hypervisor has absorbed a number of functions that previously were the sole purview of IT infrastructure partners, especially in data storage. During discussions with TechTarget reporters Wednesday at the company’s Palo Alto headquarters, VMware officials addressed this ongoing trend among the company’s products, and dropped a few tidbits about the strategy for providing infrastructure services through software going forward.
The trend of absorbing infrastructure functions into the hypervisor has been going on since ESX 2, when VMware introduced its first storage multi-pathing feature. In subsequent releases, vSphere also developed its own virtual switching capabilities; began to offer its own snapshot-based backup with VMware Data Recovery; and build its own virtual firewalls with the vShield product line.
Now, vSphere 5 can now perform its own replication with Site Recovery Manager 5.0 and automate the placement of virtual machines on disk arrays with Profile-Driven Storage and Storage DRS. With vShield 5, VMware added data loss prevention and regulatory compliance features through a new integration with RSA’s Data Loss Prevention (DLP) suite. For SMB users, vSphere now offers its own shared storage capabilities with the new virtual storage appliance also announced this week.
So, we asked VMware’s execs, how far will the company go in its quest to deliver infrastructure services through the hypervisor? And where will it ultimately draw the line between rolling out its own offerings and leaving advanced infrastructure services to third parties?
PALO ALTO, Calif. — At its Worldwide Partner Conference down in Los Angeles this week, Microsoft pushed Hyper-V and its cross-platform management capabilities. The message was clear, if oversimplified: VMware only manages VMware. Microsoft manages VMware, Hyper-V, XenServer and physical workloads.*
So why doesn’t VMware offer multi-hypervisor management? CEO Paul Maritz addressed the issue at yesterday’s vSphere 5 launch, citing technical hurdles and the cost of engineering such a solution. But Raghu Raghuram, senior vice president and general manager, gave a shorter answer today on the VMware campus: VMware doesn’t feel like it has to.
“We have no religion on this,” Raghuram said. “If the customer says we need a product to manage Hyper-V, we’ll have that product tomorrow.”
Despite recent momentum around Hyper-V and all the talk about heterogeneous environments, Raghuram’s comments indicate that there are still plenty of VMware-only shops out there, and that VMware doesn’t feel very threatened by Microsoft’s advances.
*The extent to which System Center manages VMware is up for debate, and some VMware products do have visibility into non-VMware environments.
Despite hints in recent months that VMware may follow its competitors into multi-hypervisor management, VMware CEO Paul Maritz said at the vSphere 5 launch event in San Francisco yesterday that the return on engineering investment isn’t great enough to warrant such a move.
There have been rumblings in recent months that VMware might be preparing to support Microsoft’s Hyper-V after string of commands was found buried in VMware’s vSphere 4.1 release that appeared able to detect whether Hyper-V or Xen “guest hypervisors” were present. VMware Labs also released a “fling” called XVP Manager capable of importing Hyper-V VMs into vCenter for basic management and for conversion into vSphere VMs.
With several management products on the market that sit above the hypervisor, Maritz was asked: Why not offer heterogeneous hypervisor management?
“There’s a significant technical cost to doing that,” Maritz said during a Q&A session following the vSphere 5 announcement. The real integration among disparate hypervisors doesn’t occur at the higher levels of management, Maritz said. Rather, “when you’re doing the sophisticated things – the Storage DRS, etcetera – that we’re talking about… those hypervisors down at the bottom [of the stack] are talking to each other constantly in realtime at very high speed and above all there’s extraordinarily high levels of reliability that you need. That stuff just has to work, period.”
In addition to technical hurdles to providing higher-level services for multiple hypervisors, VMware’s focus on ESXi is also a business decision, he said. “When you start putting other hypervisors in there, now you’ve increased your test matrix by a factor of three – those 2 million hours of testing now become 6 million hours, or 8 million hours of testing that you have to go through.”
And at the end of the day, “customers don’t want to spend their time testing this stuff,” Maritz said. “[virtual] infrastructure has become like a building – extraordinarily important – if you don’t have a building, you can’t operate — but it’s not going to differentiate you from your competitors.”
LOS ANGELES — The debut of VMware’s controversial new licensing model in vSphere 5 didn’t go unnoticed here at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference.
“They are dangerously close to announcing their next vThing as a vTax,” said Amy Barzdukas, an executive in Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, in an interview.
Barzdukas also criticized VMware for its approach to high-end features and capabilities, most of which are separate products with separate SKUs. She said Microsoft’s approach is to bake such features directly into the platform. For example, the next version of Windows Server will add data-protection capabilities that require nothing more than Hyper-V and a network connection.
“You can essentially do very high-scale replication,” Barzdukas said. “No additional license, no additional costs, in just a few clicks.”
LOS ANGELES — Hyper-V got a couple of quick shout-outs during this morning’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference keynote.
CEO Steve Ballmer cited Hyper-V’s role in Microsoft’s overall cloud strategy and alluded to the new features added in Service Pack 1 earlier this year.
“We’ve driven hard with new capabilities in Hyper-V,” he said.
Ballmer also said that VMware, Google, Oracle and other competitors offer some good pieces to the cloud puzzle, but that only Microsoft has everything.
“Having a strategy that spans public and private is really a unique strength for Microsoft,” he said.
A new virtualization replication company called Zerto claims to have built a better mousetrap for disaster recovery.
Zerto left stealth mode last month and is already generating some buzz, because it doesn’t require matching storage arrays at disaster recovery sites and allows users to manage replication at the VM or application level, rather than at the physical storage layer. Its software installs as a virtual appliance on each host, using vSphere APIs and Zerto’s own proprietary algorithms to replicate virtual machine (VM) data to a secondary site.
VMware always gets IT people talking, but on Capitol Hill, the company is pretty quiet.
Today I stumbled across a Hewlett-Packard blog post about how much money certain IT vendors spent on federal government lobbying in the first quarter of this year. Most vendors on the list — IBM, Oracle, Microsoft, HP, Intel, etc. — spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million to $1.5 million. But the company I was most interested in, VMware, wasn’t mentioned, so I looked it up myself.
VMware has only spent a fraction of that much in the past year, let alone in one quarter. The virtualization leader spent $40,000 in the first quarter of 2011 with lobbying firm Van Scocoy Associates, all to lobby the Senate Office of Management and Budget on “cloud computing issues.” And for the past four quarters, VMware has spent just $180,000, all with Van Scocoy.
VMware still rules, but the top of the virtualization mountain is getting crowded.
Gartner has added Microsoft and Citrix to the leaders section of its server virtualization Magic Quadrant, recognizing the growth of Hyper-V and XenServer over the past year.
“Microsoft has increased its market share (especially among midmarket customers new to virtualization), and Citrix is leveraging its desktop virtualization strengths and its free XenServer offering to expand its server virtualization share,” Gartner analysts wrote.
To produce the Magic Quadrant, Gartner evaluates vendors on their products and services, overall viability, sales and marketing execution and more. VMware ranked the highest, with the most complete vision and best execution of that vision, but Microsoft and Citrix both scored high enough to make the leaders quadrant. Microsoft beat Citrix on “ability to execute,” and Citrix beat Microsoft on “completeness of vision.”
David Greschler, Microsoft’s director of virtualization and cloud computing, has left the company.
Greschler and Douglas A. Brown of the popular virtualization site DABCC.com have founded a new virtualization and cloud community site, PaperShare. Greschler is CEO, and Brown is CTO.
I have a note into Microsoft asking who the new director of virtualization and cloud will be. Amy Barzdukas, a general manager for Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business, will have at least some role; she’s the company’s designated Hyper-V executive for press briefings at next month’s Worldwide Partner Conference. Barzdukas joined Microsoft in 1997 and has previously worked on consumer security and Internet Explorer.
Greschler was the co-founder of application virtualization vendor Softricity, which Microsoft acquired in 2006. During his time as director of virtualization and cloud, Hyper-V debuted and emerged as the number-two server virtualization platform — albeit a very distant number two — behind VMware.
PaperShare allows users (and vendors) to share white papers they think their friends and colleagues may be interested in, and it also includes social media aspects such as status updates, groups and messages. For more information, check out this interview with Greschler and Brown from VMblog.com.
UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): Edwin Yuen will replace Greschler as Microsoft’s director of virtualization and cloud strategy. Yuen also joined Microsoft as part of the Softricity acquisition, and he’s been another public face of Hyper-V over the past several years.
Pop quiz: Why did you buy your particular smartphone or tablet?
A. Because of its cool apps that let me make dinner reservations, hail a taxi to the restaurant and then watch ESPN while I’m in said taxi.
B. Because of its remote-desktop capabilities.
Chances are, you just answered A (or some variation of it). People buy mobile devices for the apps. Sure, they use their remote-desktop features, but only because it’s easier to carry an iPad all day than it is to lug around a laptop. (And because you look a lot cooler if you have an iPad.)
Everything being equal, people would rather run Windows applications natively than log into a remote-desktop app, spend five minutes figuring out how to double-click on an icon and then hope the WiFi doesn’t cut out.
Pop quiz part 2: What does this have to do with the virtualization market?
B. More than you’d think. Read on…
VMware and other remote-desktop middlemen keep trying to insert themselves into the mobile conversation with their clients for smartphones and tablets. This plays into VMware’s prediction of the death of the traditional operating system. The idea is that VMware’s virtual infrastructure technologies and cloud-based applications, along with the proliferation of mobile devices, will break IT free from the chains of Windows, allowing users to be more independent and more productive. (It will also really, really complicate enterprise device management, but they usually leave that part out.)