VMWorld: Virtual data centers are real by Peter Judge
It might sound contradictory, but the main headline from VMworld could probably be summed up as: virtual data centers are real.
Last week’s big event over in San Francisco had very few big announcements, but featured most of the big players. Network giant Cisco was keen to show how close it is to VMware, and HP was there plugging its rival story.
VMware’s big announcements were characteristic of a market and a technology that is no longer leading edge, but still has hearts and minds to win over.
It’s all about moving upwards into the software space. Data centers are still physical brutes, but they are managed virtually - they are “software defined” just as networks are now “software defined”.
It is often said that news is what they want to suppress: the rest is advertising. I’m not sure that is exactly true at VMworld.
The stories VMware wasn’t keen to talk about was the fact that customers made it ditch its unpopular vRAM pricing strategy, and the news which leaked out, that it is politely asking for Gold status membership in its sort-of rival, the OpenStack group.
The first story revealed that VMware doesn’t please all its customers - and many are still not happy with its licensing. The second exposed the fact that it is not all-powerful, and will have to do deals with the competition at some point.
So, what about the news VMware DID want to release? It tweaked its existing products into better bundles aimed at persuading more users to buy more and user more of its stuff, and mover higher up the software stack into the virtual space.
The new vCloud Suite debuts at version 5.1, because it’s a round-up of VMware’s 5.1 generation products. It’s a free update if you’re on the enterprise pricing, but has an upgrade path, enticing you to buy higher levels of technology, to automate management, alerts and the rest of it.
That’s a soft product announcement, and alongside it, the Cloud Ops Forum is even more vaporous: VMware and its service provider partners have a body to promote the idea of using VMware and its service provider partners.
The Cloud Ops deliverables are all about “training and education” (for which cynics should read, “marketing and promotion”) around VMware’s products. It’s about a “New Operating Model for the Cloud Era", and ways to get the model embedded into your organisation’s processes and practices.
Transparently, that is about getting more VMware software out there. But let’s not lose sight of the actual change involved. Virtualised data centers really are more flexible and controllable within software.
There is a change from tin and bits to a “service”, and from treating your colleagues as “users” to treating them as “customers”.
That change is frequently over-hyped, but it’s based on reality. It’s actually happening.
And so is the shift in where those services are provided. Virtual services don’t have to be in your premises, they are very likely in the cloud. That means more and bigger - and hopefully greener - data centers.