VMware’s grand plan to rule the world (or at least the data center)

I just went on a Twitter rant of predictions on where I believe VMware is going ultimately with their plan to live beyond their market leading server virtualization technology and on to eventual data center domination.  There’s no doubt in my mind that Citrix and Microsoft are catching up and may even surpass vSphere in capability. The x86 hypervisor is steadily becoming a commodity.  But, isn’t this the eventual destination for all great innovation?  Even the great Tony Stark couldn’t keep the Iron Man tech to himself.  If Mickey Rourke could figure out how to build an Iron Man suit, Microsoft can build a fairly decent x86 hypervisor.

mickey_rourke_17652Again, VMware isn’t sweating bullets.  Their Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) strategy is pretty straight forward.  It’s vSphere+NSX+VSAN+OpenStack=SDDC.  Notice how I left vCloud out of the equation?  If a customer is running vCloud they’ve already brought into VMware’s SDDC vision and VMware has achieved it’s goal in that environment.

vCloud is a decent product but it’s not the collective future of IaaS cloud management.  If AWS gains traction in the enterprise VMware will need to respond with something that can scale beyond their current customer base.  VMware wants a foot in your data center and it doesn’t matter which door you leave open. VMware has disruption in their blood and they will try to be as disruptive as possible in each and every area of infrastructure operations that they can.  This may include being disruptive to one of the “core” products in vCloud.  They will use abstraction via virtualization to achieve their goal.

You need look no further than NSX as the model for future VMware products and pricing.  From a technology perspective VMware loves recursive virtualization.  Recursive virtualization is when you can take something that’s already virtualized and do it again.  For example you can take ESXi and run it inside of ESXi – recursive virtualization.  Why is this important?  Because when you can fully abstract a physical concept you no longer have a technical reliance of the underlying hardware or software for that matter.  This is where our NSX example comes into play.  Unlike vCenter or SRM, two key feature/components of vSphere, NSX can be sold independently of the vSphere suite.  NSX is the perfect example of the type of abstraction by virtualization VMware is looking to achieve across their major products.  You want to run OpenStack + KVM instead of vCloud + vSphere then VMware is fine to sell you NSX separately for your virtual networking needs.

But, this is only the beginning.  VMware is perfecting vSAN, their virtualized storage solution as part of the vSphere suite.  Right now it makes perfect sense to sell vSAN as part of their hypervisor suite.  However, I predict when the hypervisor market starts to tighten you’ll see vSAN for OpenStack + your favorite hypervisor.  vSAN today is a beta solution that will eventually gain its independence from vSphere.  VMware is just in the process of perfecting selling products without the vSphere crutch.  This is another reason why the Nicira purchase is so important.  VMware didn’t just acquire new technology they acquired a sales force that already has experience selling into the network operations teams which VMware didn’t have prior relationships.

This all seems pretty clear to me or maybe I’m crazy.  But, if I’m right the next year and half will be interesting.  If I’m wrong, I can alway claim my wordpress account got hacked.

Published by Keith Townsend

Now I'm @CTOAdvisor

18 thoughts on “VMware’s grand plan to rule the world (or at least the data center)

  1. Sorry, but I don’t think you meant recursion. I think you meant nesting ? With virtualization they usually call it nested. Many people make mistakes with the word recursion.

    I don’t know if VMware wants to sell their vSAN separately or if the result of NSX being sold separately is just the result of that it was already sold separately before they bought it. They were selling it to highend or high volume customers, those are the kind of customers they would obviously want to keep. Doesn’t matter what happends.

      1. Even smart people get it wrong sometimes, right ? 😉

        Anyway, it depends on the context.

        It depends on what he and you meant.

  2. I understand this is a VMware fan blog but c’mon. OpenStack for VMware is really awkward…The only reason they’re even in OpenStack is due to Nicira and damage control around vSphere licensing.

    My guess Red Hat OpenStack and KVM will be the default for Private Clouds, and if you’re a Microsoft shop you’ll go the sane licensing route with Hyper-V and System Center. VMware is like Solaris, great…just not the future.

    1. Not a VMware fan blog at all. This must be your first visit. Take networking out the mix VMware is still one of the biggest contributors to Havanna. Tell companies like Paypal that are running both that it doesn’t make sense or Rackspace that has vShere based OnpenStack offerings. Or tell Mantis VMwares biggest critic when they join the foundation. They now offer a vSphere compatible OpenStack distro.

  3. I don’t deny the fact that VMware has begun to embrace Openstack, but they’re doing it out of sheer necessity nothing else. VMware makes their living on delivering overpriced software and they basically need to control the whole stack for that pricing model to work out. With OpenStack, I can’t see the business model that will sustain VMware in the long run. Hypervisors are commodity today, and the management layer is starting to become that as well for most companies with OpenStack.

    VMware will have it’s use cases I don’t deny that, they will have their justified existence in enterprises where applications are poorly written and only works with horrifying features like Fault Tolerance. The rest of the world will move along. VMware is like Solaris, great for certain things, just not special enough to warrant the price tag 🙂

    Also, regarding the fact that VMware is a big contributor around Openstack. They’re mostly working on getting their existing stuff working within Openstack, nothing else really.

    1. Sounds like you’d enjoy my article Is VMware headed the slow painful death of Novell. https://virtualizedgeek.com/2012/12/04/is-vmware-headed-the-slow-painful-death-of-novell/
      Sounds like we agree on their current position but disagree on the future. If VMware can leverage their position in the enterprise which OpenStack is far from getting a foothold in then they have a chance. If not, then yes they ultimately will be a mirror of Solaris.

      1. OK, let’s get this straight.

        VMWare provides HA for VMs, which OpenStack does not do at the moment.

        A ‘cloud application’ doesn’t need VM HA, all the data is replicated. They handle it themselves. They are ‘cattle’. If one gets sick or dies, you get a new one. Existing “enterprice/legacy applications” needs VM HA. They are ‘pets’. Everything on that VM has been configured for running that application. With a ‘cloud application’ the environment has been automated and deployed in automated fashion. A new VM should result in the same setup/configuration as all the other VMs on the same type.

        There aren’t that many OpenStack developers that want to work on VM HA. So OpenStack isn’t all that ready for legacy applications. It not that difficult to build it. In many cases it is also possible to automate around it.

        For the people that want OpenStack with HA VM, they currently have a few simple choices: run a VMware and let OpenStack manage VMware.

        Many OpenStack operators run KVM as their hypervisor, if you want that use oVirt, it’s free and you can use the same solution as with VMware, you use OpenStack to automate management of oVirt.

        So it isn’t like there is no busy with running VMware currently. Lots and lots of legacy applications need to keep running.

      2. Lennie, the question is how does VMware grow and not become Solaris or Novell. It won’t be selling more enterprise level vSphere that market is mature. They need to figure out how to leverage OpenStack. If we believe OpenStack is at a level of maturity that we won’t see radically different use cases then we are thinking too much like end users. VMware will take their engineering knowledge and breakout those products to add unique value to the OpenStack ecosystem. It’s Open Source and I’d bet there are people at HP, RackSpace, VMware etc… all trying to figure out how to take advantage of the ecosystem by leveraging their existing IP.

  4. Very Interesting article. It’s clear that SDDC is the future of datacenter and whoever will have a comprehensive innovative solution here will dominate . vSphere+NSX+vSAN+openstack = SDDC true. Let look at each of these components.

    server layer

    vSphere is a great product but hyper visor level virtualization was a work around to the server resource sharing problem in the cloud. virtualization is already moving up the stack for e.g Solaris zones and Linux containers … Oracle recent database release moving the virtualization into the database layer which is where it should have been in the first place. the company that we work with have release a similar product but for the middleware server layer that disrupt the middleware market in the same way that vSphere did 10 years ago to server visualization market .these product will make vSphere type of product less relevant.

    Network layer
    NSX I recently saw a demo of NSX and was totally blown away. With a few clicks of a button you can define virtual network , drop routers connect them together provision servers . You can save this whole thing as a template and then deploy the entire thing with one click. this is very powerful and who ever will get this right especially on existing network infrastructure will dominate .

    Storage layer

    Not very familiar here. But looking at the rate at which the solid state drives prices are dropping in a few years this layer might become less of an issue from sharing perspective. for e.g the recent rumours that the China’s ten cents is planning to offer 100 gb of free storage.

    Given the momentum in the openstack effort , it’s clear that openstack is the future for private clouds. However just like Linux is not a product, openstack is not a product. There are other companies like piston loud, rack space , VMware offering products based on open stack. It’s remains to be seen which product will gain traction here. But VMware has an advantage here as they can apply their IP gained over the last 10 years in building, managing virtualized environments to incorporate into their product offer.

    1. Amodcloud, onn the point of network layer, there is 2 things you should also think about when you think about that.

      One is firewalls. If you create many small firewalls (instead of a central firewall), rule management gets really, really easy. All you see is the rules that apply to that one smaller firewall.

      The other is: automation, you mentioned saving a template. This is already a simple form of automation.

      I think the future is the application will include a template of what it’s needs, for ‘cloud aware’ applications that template will be for an orchestration engine. Which can do autoscaling, add more VMs, routing, loadbalancers, update loadbalancing configuration, firewall entries as needed or take them away again when they are not needed anymore.

    2. A more interesting question on template is: do we get real devops, where the developers and operations team make the template and configuration management together.

      Or do the developers deliver a (possibly highlevel) template which the operations team takes and changes to fit the infrastructure before deployment.

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