The Virtualization Room

Jan 14 2008   4:44PM GMT Products of the Year – Not without their share of snubs

cwolf Profile: cwolf

Fortunately for me, my job never requires me to determine vendor awards. However, Alex Barrett and the staff aren’t so lucky. While it’s great to have the power to name Products of the Year, it also means that you’re stuck hearing complaints from everyone that wasn’t named. In case you missed it, Alex recently published the SearchServerVirtualization 2007 Products of the Year.

I think that Alex and the editorial staff did a great job with selecting products, but thought that I would take a moment to highlight some vendors with excellent products that did not make the list. After all, it’s just as much fun to debate the vendors that were not recognized as it is for those who were.


Yes, VMware’s on the list, but at the same time they’re not on the list. If you didn’t notice, VMware ESX Server 3.5 is nowhere to be found in the article. The editors informed me that ESX 3.5 missed the cutoff date for award consideration (November 30th), and therefore wasn’t eligible. Editors do need time to work with a released product in order to make a fair judgment, so I understand the reasoning for the cutoff. Still, ESX 3.5 was a significant release from VMware, with features such as Storage VMotion adding significant value to VMware deployments.


Novell quietly had a great 2007, from a virtualization product perspective. Novell was right behind Citrix/XenSource in achieving Microsoft support for their Xen-based virtualization platform, and was pushing the innovation envelope throughout the year. Novell was the very first virtualization vendor to demonstrate N_Port ID virtualization (NPIV) on their Xen platform. Novell was even showing their work with open virtual machine format (OVF) last September at their booth at VMWorld. When you factor in Novell’s work with their heterogeneous virtualization platform management tool, ZENworks Virtual Machine Manager, you’re left with a pretty nice virtualization package. The vendors mentioned in the virtualization platform category (VMware, Citrix/XenSource, SWsoft) are all worthy of recognition, and I think it’s equally fair to recognize Novell’s work in 2007 as well. Perhaps Novell’s heavy lifting in 2007 will result in recognition in 2008; however, it’s safe to say that Novell is going to have some stiff competition from VMware, Citrix/XenSource, Microsoft, Sun, Parallels, and Virtual Iron.


I thinks it’s hard to leave Symantec Veritas NetBackup 6.5 out of the discussion. In fact, amongst backup products, I’d list them as first, right alongside CommVault. Symantec was the first major backup vendor to announce support for Citrix XenServer backup, while all other backup products officially supported one virtualization platform – VMware ESX Server. The NetBackup team was also very innovative with VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB), as NetBackup 6.5 includes the capability to perform file level recoveries of VCB image level backups. Typically, a backup product performs two VCB backup jobs – an image level backup for DR purposes, and a file level backup for day-to-day recovery tasks. NetBackup 6.5 provides the ability to do this in a single pass, which I found to be pretty innovative. Factor in Data-deduplication (extremely valuable considering the high degree of file redundancy on VM host systems), also available in NetBackup 6.5, and it’s hard to see how NetBackup could be ignored.


SteelEye is another vendor in the data protection category that I’m surprised did not make the list. VMware HA by itself will not detect an application failure and initiate a failover job as a result, as it’s primarily designed to monitor and react to hardware failures and some failures within the guest OS. SteelEye LifeKeeper, on the other hand, provides automated VM failover in response to application and service failures (in addition to guest OS and physical server failures). Many failures are software-specific, and products that can automate VM failover or restarts in response to software failures go far to improve the availability of VMs in production.I’m limiting my comments only to the award categories, hence I’m only listing some of the products I’ve worked with in 2007 that fit into one of the SSV categories. I hope that for the 2008 awards, we’ll see a higher number of award categories, so all products in the virtualization ecosystem are represented.

Do you agree with editors’ choice of winners? Which deserving vendors do you feel were left off the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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