The Virtualization Room

Apr 27 2010   4:57PM GMT

What does VMforce mean for virtualization?

Colin Steele Colin Steele Profile: Colin Steele

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?

At first glance, a lot of people would say no. VMforce is a Java application development and hosting platform, and it’s not really something that admins will come across in their day-to-day duties. As blogger and systems engineer Kendrick Coleman said to me on Twitter this morning, “It means nothing to me because I’m not a developer.”

VMware CEO Paul Maritz shares a different view. He said in this morning’s VMforce press release that VMforce will tie in with the private and hybrid cloud models that many businesses are considering. Sure, the whole part about VMforce being a “dramatically simplified solution for modern application development” isn’t going to excite many admins.

But then there’s the part about applications that “can scale automatically. VMforce customers will not have to worry about scaling up app servers, databases or infrastructure to meet performance demand.” Now we’re cookin’ with virtualization gas!

Scalability is one of the biggest benefits of virtualization. If you want to deploy a new application, you can simply provision a new VM instead of rolling out a whole new physical server. Of course, there are some potential gotchas. If you provision VMs left and right, you can find yourself with a serious case of VM sprawl. And despite workarounds like memory overcommit, you’re still limited to the physical capabilities of your infrastructure.

If you’re an admin who has dealt with these kinds of problems, especially with a lot of your custom apps, don’t ignore the VMforce news. With this Platform as a Service model, the service provider is responsible for meeting your users’ demand — which means you don’t have to worry about provisioning and decommissioning VMs or overloading your servers.

Is VMforce going to change the world for admins? No. But it may be able to help solve some problems. VMware isn’t solely focused on virtualization anymore. We shouldn’t be either.

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  • Roidude
    Colin, I think you are spot on here. The real purpose of virtualization is ultimately to enable organizations to accomplish more at a lower cost. VMforce is a logical progression of the virtualization phenomonon by leveraging both its consolidation and multi-tenancy capabilities on a larger scale. Whether or not VMforce is utilized by an organization, just the VMware/SalesForce collaboration on the platform will help further encourage IT leadership to evaluate virtualization-enabled technologies as alternatives to the traditional way of running their data centers.
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