Managing the Virtual Giant

Sitting in the VMworld keynote, and there’s a lot of stuff to think about… I’m very excited to see VMware looking seriously at the management needs of the cloud, and as a service provider I know how far there is to go.  Nothing scales without a good, well designed management framework, and while vCenter has been great for the virtualized hosts themselves, there’s been little from VMware around the multi-tenant management until…

First up is the newly announced vCloud Director.  My company was one of the small group of companies who got to participate in the Beta for the product, and it’s a big step in the right direction.  It gives us the ability to abstract out the resources that are contained in the cloud, defining services that can be offered to customers, be they internal or external.  Especially for enterprise customers, this is going to become a core to how they maintain control and how we ensure transparency in the process.  If you want more detail about the product, Duncan Epping has done a great job here:

The announcement of the vCloud API last yes was great, but vCD is the first real application we’ve seen.  It’s a great first step, and a good indication that VMware is at least looking in the right direction.

The second thing that interests me is the newly announced acquisition of a company called Integrien.  Their tools for monitoring and reporting look great, and I’m very much hoping that it will be available through our VSPP program in the near future.  Good, intelligent management is a key to effective management, and while there are a ton of competitors in this space (Veeam, Quest/Vizioncore, Novell, etc…) VMware certainly has the proximity to the vCenter API and database to create an effective offering.

One concern I have, thinking about operational efficiency is around the vShield products.  Much like the VMware Update Manager, this looks to be a tool that is great if you are 100% virtualized, but if you have to mix it with a physical infrastructure (which service providers always have to) it becomes another management vector to account for.  It also seems to me that there are a lot of VMware “partners” who have spent time integrating their offerings into a VMware-based environment that may feel like they got the rug yanked out a little, but that seems to be the cost of doing business at this velocity…

The vCloud Datacenter (and the fact that my employer wouldn’t be included in the initial rollout) is something that I’ve been aware of for some time.  It’s a very logical progression of the VMware strategy here, and something that I predict we will move into quickly.  Hopefully we can be positioned in a better way internally with VMware for service announcements like this in the future.  Congratulations to the Verizon and Terremark teams, I’m sure here has been a ton of backend work to get everything up and running, and the offerings looks like they are going to be great.  To the smaller providers (ahem, Bluelock), I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of you soon… 🙂

The application framework focus seems to be moving ahead well.  I’m not sure how a traditional infrastructure services provider gets into this game, however, since it’s a whole different value proposition being made to a whole different customer base.  It seems to me that this would be a very interesting place for existing IaaS shops to look at for M&A opportunities, since there are a lot of great companies out there who are very, very good at this who could benefit from the support and resources that could be brought to bear from an established provider.  If you have any thoughts on who would be a candidate here, let me know!

The final big announcement was around ThinApp and View 4.5.  We are very high on the opportunity here, but I was disappointed to see that there’s no integration with the new vCD tools.  Our customers are asking for hosted VDI, and we struggle to build a delivery model that leverages the efficiencies of a multi-tenant environment to these kinds of workloads.  We can design/install/manage single customer environments all day, but that’s not where the real value lies.  We’ve had a number of meetings this week asking for help with building these tools and hopefully we’ll get some response.

There’s a lot to think about.  I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts as the week progresses, but VMware has once again raised the bar.  What a great event!