Restore The VMTN Subscription

I was pleased to see that blogger Mike Laverick, of RTFM-ed.co.uk, has inspired a grass-roots movement to convince VMware management to restart the VMTN subscription. Like Microsoft’s TechNet, Action Pack and MSDN subscriptions, VMTN subscriptions would get non-production licenses into the hands of geeks with home labs, independent developers and the like. VMware should restart VMTN tout de suite, not as a gesture to the power of social media, but because it will be good for business in th

Howard Marks

November 18, 2011

4 Min Read
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I was pleased to see that blogger Mike Laverick, of RTFM-ed.co.uk, has inspired a grass-roots movement to convince VMware management to restart the VMTN (VMware Technology Network) subscription. Like Microsoft’s TechNet, Action Pack and MSDN subscriptions, VMTN subscriptions would get non-production licenses into the hands of geeks with home labs, independent developers and the like. VMware should restart VMTN tout de suite, not as a gesture to the power of social media, but because it will be good for business in the long run.

VMware has done an admirable job building a vibrant ecosystem around vSphere, but the process is getting harder as the virtualization market evolves. First, the backlash from VMware’s recent licensing changes, which will boost costs for some customers, demonstrates that VMware’s grown out of the fanboi-with-a-cute-puppy stage. VMware has shown that it's inbusiness to make money, and the community is going to see the company with a slightly more jaundiced eye.

Then there’s the escalating threat presented by Microsoft with Hyper-V. From what I’ve seen, Windows 8 Hyper-V will be competitive with vSphere, including all of the features from my must-have list, including live storage migration. VMware has to make it as easy as possible for independent and corporate developers to create tools that help differentiate vSphere from the less-expensive Hyper-V. We know Microsoft is playing nice with folks like Veeam and Virsto.

One must never forget that Microsoft started out selling developer tools; it was, after all, the BASIC interpreter Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote that not only started it all but brought IBM to Microsoft in the first place. The DOS cash cow that bankrolled the development of the rest of the Microsoft empire was the direct result of IBM coming to call.

As a vendor of compilers and assemblers, Microsoft has always been in touch with the developer community. Microsoft realized from the very beginning that the success of an operating system depended on the evolution of an ecosystem of independent developers. Sure, the company was hyper-competitive and would occasionally keep an API secret or incorporate an ISV’s product’s functionality into a new version of DOS or Windows (Can you say Stacker?), but Microsoft also had an army of evangelists, including my old friend Rick Segal, promoting its new APIs and multiple programs where developers could get their hands on the software at a nominal cost.

Since the expiration of the VMTN subscription in 2007, VMware developers and home lab geeks have had to either buy licenses for the systems in their labs/development environments oruse the 60-day evaluation versions of most VMware products that are downloadable from the VMware site.

Limited-time evaluation versions are a problem in an educational lab environment. Since self, or team, education is a low urgency task, we frequently set up something like the VMware VSA or Site Recovery Manager and then get dragged away from it until the evaluation period ends or would like to store it away to test another potential configuration at another time.

Not all users who need to set up test environments are the same. Here at the DeepStorage/NetworkComputing Real World LAB, we can call Microsoft or VMware’s PR groups, and if we ask real nice, they’ll send us non-production licenses for pretty much anything we want. Similarly, bloggers who make Microsoft or VMware happy can be awarded MVP or vExpert status and given access to software. Even so, we pay for MSDN subscriptions because the convenience of having the software when we need it is worth the relatively low price.

To remain the target of developer’s affections, and therefore products, VMware has to provide low-cost licenses for people before they become prominent enough to be vExperts. The best way is through a revived VMTN subscription.

The good news is the groundswell of support following Laverick’s original post on the VMware community forum addressed to the office of the CTO, which has attracted almost 200 comments and has been noticed by folks inside VMware. Blogger Duncan Epping, a VMware principal architect, reports that VMware’s management is investigating the idea. Comment on Laverick's post and keep the heat on so the investigation shows reinstatement to be a good idea.

Disclaimer: VMware has provided vSphere and other licenses for use in the DeepStorage/NetworkComputing Real-World lab and I expect them to continue that practice regardless of whether we ever get to purchase a VMTN subscription.

About the Author(s)

Howard Marks

Network Computing Blogger

Howard Marks</strong>&nbsp;is founder and chief scientist at Deepstorage LLC, a storage consultancy and independent test lab based in Santa Fe, N.M. and concentrating on storage and data center networking. In more than 25 years of consulting, Marks has designed and implemented storage systems, networks, management systems and Internet strategies at organizations including American Express, J.P. Morgan, Borden Foods, U.S. Tobacco, BBDO Worldwide, Foxwoods Resort Casino and the State University of New York at Purchase. The testing at DeepStorage Labs is informed by that real world experience.</p><p>He has been a frequent contributor to <em>Network Computing</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>InformationWeek</em>&nbsp;since 1999 and a speaker at industry conferences including Comnet, PC Expo, Interop and Microsoft's TechEd since 1990. He is the author of&nbsp;<em>Networking Windows</em>&nbsp;and co-author of&nbsp;<em>Windows NT Unleashed</em>&nbsp;(Sams).</p><p>He is co-host, with Ray Lucchesi of the monthly Greybeards on Storage podcast where the voices of experience discuss the latest issues in the storage world with industry leaders.&nbsp; You can find the podcast at: http://www.deepstorage.net/NEW/GBoS

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