Virtual Infrastructure and the Value of VMware Integration

A highly virtualized infrastructure that leverages an integrated stack across storage, backup, networking, management and security will cut IT costs dramatically. A company with $1B in revenue that spends 4% of that revenue on IT will  save $20M over a five-year period by pursuing an integrated stack approach. That figure will nearly triple over the period of a decade. Organizations should scrutinize vendors to make sure they are aggressively integrating to VMware’s roadmaps as it will drive more business value for virtualized environments.

Wikibon recently organized several meetings with practitioners in the community to better understanding the requirements, roadmaps and business value of integration for VMware users. We spoke with approximately 20 practitioners, technical experts and ecosystem participants to get a better handle on where VMware is headed.

There were four main goals of the project, including: 

  1. To define integration in the context of VMware and its ecosystem including storage, management, security and data protection services.

  2. To help our members understand the functional roadmaps for the key integration points as they move to a more pervasive virtualization environment. 

  3. To model the financial impact of integration.

  4. To provide our members with ammunition for VMware technology decisions so they can more effectively plan, procure and deploy infrastructure.

Key Findings

Several findings emerged from the discussions with practitioners, including:

  • Practitioners are cautious about aggressively moving legacy applications to VMware. There is a particular concern about security and management integration.

  • True mission critical/mainframe-class apps will not widely run on VMware in the near term, however so-called business critical apps such as Exchange,  CRM, ERP, Oracle data marts and other key systems will be supported to the extent the vendor community invests in integration through the VMware stack.

  • To understand this, we developed definitions and benefit statements of integration across four main milestones:

    • Resource Virtualization
    • Application Encapsulation  
    • Internal Cloud
    • Hybrid Cloud

  • New VMware integration information has been made public and to assess them we developed functional roadmaps for the following areas:

  • Users should demand integration from vendors because it drives business value. Mid-sized organizations pursuing an integrated virtualization strategy can put an average $5M to the bottom line annually by aggressively adopting virtualization. Savings come from reduced hardware, software and maintenance costs, lower management costs, streamlined operations, lower power and cooling expenses and lower backup costs.

  • Other soft benefits include improved business flexibility and availability; specifically using VMware’s data movement capabilities to improve organizational agility.

The bottom line is that while VMware will not (in the near term) support any and all applications in the portfolio, an integrated VMware stack will deliver substantial business value to organizations over the next five years and beyond; supporting the vast majority of applications. Users should push vendors to take advantage of and exploit VMware’s API set which will in turn deliver more value.

 Financial Model

The following Chart quantifies the key research findings using a Return on Assets (ROA) Economic Model. The data models a $1B company that spends 4% of revenue on IT. 

Table 1: Comparing the Value of Integration with a Non-integrated VMware Stack (5 Year TCO) – $M

*A non-integrated stack increases the IT budget by 10%.

*Key integration points are substantially more expensive when an integrated stack is not in place (e.g. backup 48%, network 25%, etc).

*Integration has ripple effects in other areas of the IT budget including facilities and operations.

*Servers included as the mainspring of integration for VMware.

What this Means to IT Executives

The research has several implications for different audiences, the most important being that integration is fundamental to pursuing a VMware strategy and can save substantial costs. Organizations should assess the degree to which vendors are integrating components into VMware and ask the following key questions of suppliers:

  1. What is your roadmap with respect to integrating with VMware API’s?

  2. What is your vision for delivering infrastructure as a service?

  3. Can your software tell me what resource the virtual environment is consuming, how much is it consuming, from where and how is that trending over time?

  4. Can you help me manage SLAs and specifically tell me if I am meeting SLAs, and if not why not?

  5. When will you be able to exploit the vStorage APIs for Data Protection (VADP) and specifically changed block tracking (CBT)?

  6. What are your committed deliverables on the vStorage API for Array Integration (VAAI), and can one see across the “layer of obscurity” between the storage team and the virtualization team through integration with VMware??

  7. When will you support thin provisioning and automated tiered storage transparently, and will this integrate with VMware?

  8. What is your multi-pathing strategy and roadmap?

  9. Can you demonstrate how to put together a cohesive security platform to achieve compliance, transparency in operations, recoverability, and data assurance?

  10. When will you be able to demonstrate that you can support a virtual app as the endpoint of the network versus a port?

Clear answers to these questions is an indication that the supplier is investing in VMware integration and can potentially deliver the type of value we’ve projected in this research. Unclear answers should be a red flag.

Published Research

The following related research items have been published on Wikibon. Wikibon member practitioners can use these as part of strategic planning initiatives. The research below has been optimized for Web production with substantial links and supporting graphics.

The Value of the VMware Integration Journey

Each of the following pieces has been produced by Wikibon as supporting documentation to the research effort. Most of the documents have detailed timelines with a discussion of the key VMware API’s that are in play over the near term.

  1. The Value of the VMware Integration Journey. A summary research note providing definitions and descriptions of the key milestones on the journey to the private cloud. Quantifies the value of integration to organizations.
  2. Milestones in the Virtual Computing Infrastructure. Identifies the key milestones on the integration journey and defines each step.  
  3. Storage Roadmap to Meet Virtualization Infrastructure Milestones. Emphasis on VAAI and the key enhancements and business value users should expect.  
  4. Backup Roadmap to Meet Virtualization Infrastructure Milestones. Emphasizes VADP and Changed Block Tracking (CBT) with a discussion and vision of the impact these capabilities will have on users.  
  5. Network Roadmap to Meet Virtualization Infrastructure Milestones. Provides a detailed discussion and vision of virtual IO connectivity, FCoE and networking.  
  6.  Security Roadmap to Meet Virtualization Infrastructure Milestones. Addresses the key activities security practitioners should expect in VMware over the near-, mid- and long-term.   
  7. Management Roadmap to Meet Virtualization Infrastructure Milestones. Key emphasis is on automating management of infrastructure and making hardware and software components less complex to manage and more autonomic.  
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