Today, as I watched the VMworld 2012 keynote and listened to the various speakers talk about where we were, where we are, and where we’re going, it was clear that we’re currently on an evolutionary path toward the future rather than a revolutionary one. Although new product versions with new features were announced and a new product was released, the product features, while welcome, are evolutionary, and the new product is a repacking of existing products.
Here are some of the highlights from this morning’s opening keynote address.
The vRAM “vTax” is history
Perhaps one of the most positive items announced during the address was VMware’s mea culpa and admission that vRAM--which many have taken to calling a vTax--was a spectacularly poor idea that deserved to be eliminated. It’s now a thing of the past.
Personally, while I realize that the vRAM entitlement program didn’t necessarily affect a lot of customers in a negative way, it never felt quite right. Further, it provided Microsoft with a great weapon to use against VMware in the escalating war of words between the two companies as Microsoft prepares to unleash Hyper-V Server 2012 to the world.
With the elimination of vRAM, VMware is returning to a processor-based licensing model. This effectively eliminates one of Microsoft’s primary talking points, and it may also quell the anger that VMware faced from customers in the face of the vRAM debacle.
An impressive array of statistics
During the keynote, various sets of statistics were displayed, clearly demonstrating the incredible momentum that virtualization has enjoyed in recent years. In 2008, just 25% of workloads are virtualized. Today, that figure has skyrocketed to more than 60%. In 2008, the number of attendees at VMworld was around 13,000 while in 2012, that number exceeds 20,000.
The key point from these statistics is that virtualization continues to be a growing force for more and more organizations. VMware’s incoming CEO, Pat Gelsinger, identified a goal of 90% workload virtualization.
We should fully expect these numbers continue to grow rapidly as organizations seek to abstract more and bigger workloads from hardware and as they seek to abstract such workloads beyond the single data center walls and into the cloud.
vSphere 5.1 takes the stage
During the keynote, Gelsinger also took the wraps off vSphere 5.1, the next iteration of VMware’s cornerstone hypervisor product. vSphere 5.1 has sevral new capabilities and features, including:
- Further scalability to support ever-larger “monster VMs”: Now, individual virtual machines can be built that include 64 vCPUs and 1 TB of RAM. That’s a lot of scalability.
- A new Web client: vSphere 5.1 also includes a new Web client, which, if desired, can be used in place of the Windows-based vSphere client that has been in use for years.
- Shared Nothing Live Migration: Ok… that’s not really the vSphere name for this feature, although VMware’s Enhanced vMotion no longer requires shared storage in order to accomplish vMotion tasks. This was another key area in which Microsoft was battling VMware in the marketing area and inclusion of this feature again eliminates another Microsoft talking point.
vSphere 5.1 has many other new features, but those are not the focus of this article.
VMware vCloud Suite 5.1 enters the market
Gelsinger also announced VMware vCloud Suite 5.1, which integrates several VMware products, including virtualization software, cloud infrastructure tools, and management tools into a single product. This is described as an integrated suite for cloud computing and an enabler for the software-defined data center. The suite includes:
- vSphere Enterprise Plus 5.1, the platform on which workloads operate.
- vCloud Director 5.1, the orchestration tool responsible for data center automation.
- vCloud Networking and Security 5.1, that “enable[s] the dynamic creation of virtual networks and services that are completely decoupled and independent from the physical network hardware.”
- vCenter Site Recovery Manager 5.1, automated disaster recovery.
- vCenter Operations Management Suite, monitoring, alerting, chargeback.
I see the introduction of VMware vCloud Suite 5.1 as evolutionary rather than revolutionary, although the single SKU nature of the product will make it easier to buy. This is akin to Microsoft simply combining the System Center products into a single suite and slapping a new SKU on the box, although the Microsoft offering doesn’t actually include the hypervisor. That said, it’s sort of a moot point in Microsoft’s case since the hypervisor itself is free.
It should be noted that the new suite makes it easier to buy a full solution, but customers can also continue to purchase the individual products. Are you listening, Microsoft?
Action Item: It hasn’t been that long since VMware acquired Nicira and DynamicOps. So it’s not that surprising to see that the new product line does not yet seem to have the impact that would be expected from a major announcement, particularly as VMware attempts to rise above the simple hypervisor. Today’s announcements, while welcome, were hardly surprising. We’ve heard similar stories from VMware in years past and, while the buzzwords change, it seems that overall story does not. VMware is out to own the data center and has been building products and making acquisitions toward that goal. Sometimes, the progress is revolutionary and other times, it’s more evolutionary, but at the end of the process, we’ll see a result that helps organizations make the most of their IT assets.
CIOs should take a look at the new suites of products to determine if there are opportunities for data center efficiencies that may be had from the full suite of products as opposed to buying the products separately.