• 01/04/2013
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5 Things VMware Should Do In 2013

VMware's vision of the software-defined data center is still a long ways off and hard to achieve, but these steps will take it closer to its goals.

VMware can afford to be the IBM of virtualization and charge substantial prices. But there are limits to how far that can go, as it found out with the charges based on vRAM use (the Vtax). Nor would I underestimate the capabilities of all three competitors -- Citrix, Microsoft and Red Hat -- to start at the low end, then move up, taking over more of the market as VMware struggles to produce the software-defined data center.

If it concedes the low end of the market, as it appears to be doing, I'm not sure VMware will be the type of company it's been so far. Software pricing strategies are notoriously tricky, and underselling competitors is also not the answer, not for a company like VMware. But it needs to keep some elements of that dual approach, the way Rosenblum and Greene did.

4. Give Virtual Desktop Infrastructure A Comprehensive Story

Virtualizing the desktop in one sense is easy. In another it is incredibly hard to do it right. With smartphones and tablets, the nature of end-user computing is changing so fast that it opens up new possibilities almost as fast as it opens up new exposures.

Desktop virtualization author Shawn Bass has written how virtual desktops are no more secure than physical ones and much work remains to be done to make them reliably defended. Citrix Systems has done yeoman's work in this area with the Air Force and Defense Intelligence Agency.

Bromium, a promising startup co-founded by Simon Crosby, former Citrix CTO, is doing additional work in the realm of micro-hypervisors, or microvisors, that isolate end users' risky tasks.

What's VMware's story on this all important subject? It's labored mightily to build out the features of its own virtual desktop infrastructure to the point where they're a match -- or a near match -- to the technical leader in the space, Citrix. But security remains a difficult conundrum. VMware is going to have to provide a leading example of how it solves security for multiple devices to get more lift in this space.

5. VMware May Supply A Magical, "Next Generation" Application

VMware has done two things concurrently in the application space. It's acquired end-user application vendors, such as SocialCast and SlideRocket, and it's built out a developer-attracting platform in Cloud Foundry, where developers may build their own applications.

So is VMware a supplier of infrastructure for next-generation applications -- a virtualization environment with developer platform support -- or is it a supplier of the applications themselves? Maybe both?

Is this issue what the Pivotal Initiative is meant to resolve? VMware is spinning out its Pivotal Labs acquisition, Spring Java framework, Cloud Foundry, the vFabric part of vSphere, and other elements into a new, 1,400-employee business unit. It may end up trying to be an application platform, good for building software to run in VMware's private cloud environment.

If VMware wants to directly supply applications, can it provide the combination of elements that end users can't resist? VMware would like to find a leading application that prompts customers to adopt its virtual desktop infrastructure, and then use apps as a way to capture the next generation of end-user computing.

But think of the competition on that front, the difficulty of displacing Microsoft Office and the speed of end-user computing's evolution. When the market is rapidly moving onto smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, finding a magic application is not going to be easy. On the other hand, VMware has many elements in Spring and Cloud Foundry and the underlying architecture of SlideRocket that could be put into a developer platform, with virtualization allowing it to display on different types of devices. If VMware can find a way to enable secure application output in that vein, it might have something.


re: 5 Things VMware Should Do In 2013

It will be interesting to see if VMware is able to move their software-defined data center concept forward with the Nicira acquisition. Our September 2012 Virtualization Management survey found that 61% of respondents buy into the concept of virtualization technology in a services-oriented IT model, where compute, storage, network and security are aggregated and automatically delivered as services, based on policies. However, of that, only 20% think their virtualization vendor can get them there, 19% think it will take more than one vendor and 22% feel it's too complex to undertake now. It looks like VMware has its work cut out for them.

Heather Vallis
Managing Editor, Research, InformationWeek

re: 5 Things VMware Should Do In 2013

"It's acquired end-user application vendors, such as SocialCast and SlideRocket, and it's built out a developer-attracting platform in Cloud Foundry, where developers may build their own applications."

Care to correct your grammar, ed?

That aside, a fascinating article that supports my view of VMWare as a vendor of very sophisticated technology, but still a tactical band-aid to a broader opportunity to discuss the virtues of owning vs. 'renting' one's computing infrastructure, i.e. the various flavors of cloud, when chances are IT as a whole probably isn't one of your core competencies, just something you inherited or grew into because the hosted and SaaS options weren't there.

A CXO may well realize that, and look for options beyond tweaking something complex that they own but never fully quite understood to accommodate workload and user growth that now must include spending 3-7% of your top line revenue on IT then the best use of finite capex/opex if the bulk of it just maintains status quo?

Karl Anttila
Chief Strategy Officer
Compelling Business IT

re: 5 Things VMware Should Do In 2013

Would you admit the possibility that an on-premises, highly-virtualized environment may one day work with a public cloud? It seems to me many enterprise IT orgs see that as a way to get beyond "just maintaining the status quo," with more and more on-premises operational responsibility taken over by data center software. Then IT would be more available to address the varied devices of end users or implement rapid changes to business systems -- that is, if all goes according to plan. Charlie Babcock, InformationWeek

re: 5 Things VMware Should Do In 2013

Yes, Charlie, I do admit to the likely possibility you pose with the caveat that IT be honest with itself with regards to that portion of your application layer that IS your core competence -- perhaps only somewhere between 15-25% of all your apps. So working with an MSP that hosts the layers of your infrastructure stack below the application layer might be a better use of finite resources than on-prem, no matter what you do to it. The holy grail is of course to future proof and right-size your computing environment, regardless of where it resides and who owns or maintains what.

I'm a business strategist, first and foremost, with an appetite for technology, but I see cloud operators having an upper hand in perfecting infrastructures that been largely commoditized with VMWare as a key component in many cases...what I'm suggesting is to take a hard, long look at what you have and how you spend your money...ask yourself if you really are world-class at it, and if not, find out someone who is.

After all, you don't do your own dry cleaning, do you? G?