VMware gains IT management expertise from EMC

EMC sells pieces of its IT management software portfolio to subsidiary VMware, providing the virtualization vendor with application management and automation technology for the cloud.

VMware acquires several management software assets from EMC’s Ionix portfolio, potentially equipping the virtualization vendor with management and automation capabilities for the cloud.

Despite being a leader in virtualization wares, VMware often caught criticism for limited heterogeneous management capabilities, motivating a slew of start-ups to emerge with tools to manage VMware virtual environments. Now that VMware inked a deal with parent company EMC to acquire several IT management technologies, the vendor could make a case for customers looking for advanced management and automation capabilities to take on virtual and cloud computing environments.

Could EMC be an IT management contender?

EMC and VMware last week announced that the two vendors had entered into a definitive agreement for VMware to acquire for about $200 million IT management technologies from EMC’s Ionix portfolio. Assets being sold by EMC include the technology and assets of FastScale, as well products in the Ionix suite such as Application Discovery Manager, Server Configuration Manager and Service Manager. The sale leaves EMC with storage and network management capabilities and transfers virtual systems management, application performance management and automation tools to VMware. The deal will help VMware manage cloud environments to some degree, but industry watchers are curious about leaving network and storage elements with EMC.

“It’s wonderful that VMware has purchased the assets from the EMC side of the family, as they will inject some energy into [VMware’s products] that was needed. The [product family] has great potential and VMware has the right vision to capitalize on that potential,” says Glenn O’Donnell, senior analyst at Forrester Research. “My question is “Why not the whole Ionix portfolio?” I understand [VMware] is not interested necessarily in the networking or storage elements, but how can they truly enable cloud automation without those pieces? The parts left behind at EMC are good technologies.”

As for EMC, which experts including O’Donnell had expected would attempt to take on the big four management software makers – BMC, CA, HP and IBM – with its products, giving up part of the Ionix brand could hurt that strategy. EMC for its part in 2009 had acquired management technologies and also partnered with Cisco (and VMware) to use Ionix in a cloud computing initiative dubbed Virtual Computing Environment. It remains unclear what EMC’s plans for IT management software are at this time, but O’Donnell says this transaction puts VMware directly in competition with several key management software partners.

“Is EMC abandoning management? Well, ‘abandon’ is maybe too strong here, however the focus clearly has shifted. No doubt, this marks a major shift for EMC away from building management and automation on its own,” O’Donnell says. “VMware vehemently denies they are aiming to compete with their partners at IBM, HP, BMC and CA. Whether intentional or not, this move undeniably increases tensions between VMware and its partners.”

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