If I were a certain CEO of a certain software company, I would be standing on a stage with a blade server jumping up and down yelling “Developers, Developers, Developers.” I’m a huge fan of VMware products. VMware has long been the thought leader in x86 virtualization products both on the desktop and in the data center. The free version of ESXi is a power product alone. Add to it the vSphere suite and it’s pretty difficult to find a better virtualization solution. Their software defined data center approach is coming together to be a great solution for those of us in the infrastructure arena. There may be some engineers that have singular focus on either storage or networking that’s not very excited about software defined data centers but I believe data center managers in general like the idea. But no matter how much I and my peer like the solution, VMware impresses the wrong crowd and may be headed down the path of other great infrastructure technologies like Novell Netware.
The first rule in IT is that technology is here to support business. Technology organizations accomplish this goal by providing applications that give organizations an edge over their competitors. Applications need to run on platforms. This is where I believe VMware is having difficulty in their vision. A great example of a solution focused on applications is Amazon Web Services (AWS). When it came out I didn’t get it. I was already a fan of virtualization and understood the virtualization parts of AWS but I didn’t get the need for an API. I wanted a console to assign resources to application developers so that application developers could create their applications and I could control the underlying resources the same way I do in the enterprise data center. You know what I do today with vSphere.
I was completely wrong. I forgot the first rule of IT, which is that it’s there to support the business. And that means applications and data always needs to be the focus. AWS approached the developers and understood what made since to build Cloud applications. Startups like Zynga (I’m not a big fan) and Netflix built extremely scalable business by looking at the infrastructure in a completely different way than us infrastructure guys have looked at infrastructures. Amazon allows the developer to control the infrastructure. From a traditional perspective this sounds ridiculous. Developers don’t’ know the first thing about capacity planning, storage performance, network management or CPU optimization. And the ideal point of AWS is that developers don’t need to know a lot about infrastructure to build scalable cloud apps. AWS abstracted the infrastructure for developers similar to what operating systems do for computer hardware.
I want this type of flexibility within my data center. When looking at the previous VMware strategy, this is where it seemed to be going with their purchase of various development platforms and the creation of Cloud Foundry. However, VMware had decided to refocus on its core competency which is virtualization and infrastructure management. They want to give us infrastructure guys the best tools to manage the infrastructure. I just don’t know if I’m the right audience or target for the Cloud based data center.
Does vFabric give my developers the same flexibility as other solutions? I’m starting to realize that I will need to look to solutions such as Euclyptus, CloudStack and OpenStack for the AWS like experience within the data center. Or does Microsoft have something with a convergence of the Hyper-V and Azure API’s. As these solutions mature they will give me the control that AWS doesn’t while giving my developers the capability to build scalable Cloud applications that enable business.
Driving Cloud & virtualization is all about developers.