Personalized napkins are great, but innovation is better.
Source: flickr user cote
Having just published a report on VMware and endured the barrage of announcements coming out of VMworld, I’m probably due to share my post-conference thoughts. From a cloud computing perspective, I’m underwhelmed. VMware met expectations – even advanced its cloud vision – but it didn’t deliver grand new visions as it has in years past.
For the most part, we saw what we expected from VMware. It delivered vCloud Director, announced a forthcoming PaaS-like solution called vFabric and expanded on its service-provider business with the vCloud Datacenter Service. vCloud Director was no secret, and it appears somewhat incomplete at this point. Yes, it does what it’s supposed to — manage virtual infrastructure across hybrid clouds — but VMware is relying on ISVs for a goodly number of cloud features. I’d have predicted VMware would build those in itself, and to the chagrin of some current partners, it still might.
vFabric should be a big deal when it becomes available, but right now it’s merely on the road map. And given how transparent VMware has been about its plans during its SpringSource-inspired buying spree, some internal PaaS news was expected. The pieces are all available for a very capable PaaS offering, but an integrated solution and some details would have been great too.
In fact, I think VMware’s most-interesting announcements were also the most underreported: the vCloud Datacenter Service and the acquisitions of Integrien and TriCipher. The former is a big deal because it gives service provider partners — including Verizon Business — a secure, robust offering that will appeal to enterprise customers more than vCloud Express ever will. Nonetheless, it’s difficult to take the vCloud ecosystem too seriously until it establishes a larger footprint. Unless I’m mistaken, there’s a total of seven unique (and publicly announced) providers for vCloud Express and vCloud Datacenter Service combined.
Regarding Integrien and TriCipher, the moves are hardly earthshaking, but they do show that VMware has a vision beyond delivering applications and infrastructure. However, any management vendor that wants to be taken seriously in the cloud simply has to have a firm grasp on cross-system monitoring and identity management. VMware already has the former with Hyperic, and Integrien takes it another step forward with its focus on data correlation and analysis.
At this point, though, VMware’s goal should be maintaining its status as a cloud computing leader and innovator, which means maintaining a safe distance between itself and the competition. That didn’t necessarily happen this week:
- Perpetual thorn-in-the-side Citrix got its own hybrid management capabilities by purchasing VMLogix.
- CA Technologies, in the midst of a cloud-buying spree of its own, got its own cloud identity-management solution by purchasing Arcot Systems.
- Reflex Systems announced its own virtualization-based internal cloud software.
- True-blue internal-cloud vendor Eucalyptus Systems partnered with Jamcracker, giving Eucalyptus users yet another option for self-service hybrid cloud computing.
- Rumor surfaced that Red Hat is in talks to buy PaaS startup Makara, which would let the cloud-driven Red Hat immediately sell both internally- and externally-hosted PaaS offerings.
- And, lest we forget, Microsoft kicked off the week with a full-page open letter in USA Today, touting the benefits of its cloud products over VMware’s options.
It’s no secret that the cloud software market is getting crowded, so it’s up to every vendor to distinguish itself from the pack and maintain positive momentum. At VMworld, VMware didn’t do a lot to demonstrate that it’s still several steps ahead of the competition. Perhaps I’ll change my tune once I’ve had time to digest all the news and connect the dots, or perhaps I expect too much after the past couple of visionary VMworld events. For now, I feel like the competition narrowed the gap during VMware’s biggest week of the year.
Related Research: VMware’s Cloudy Ambitions: Can It Repeat Hypervisor Success?