VMware is dead, long live VMware!

As IT organizations make some of the changes that the vendors are suggesting, their environment will become more complex, at least in the short term.

In our last newsletter we mentioned that most of the vendors who made presentations at the recent Interop conference were talking about how IT organizations need to implement new technologies and services in part to reduce the complexity of IT. The problem that we have with that statement is that as IT organizations make some of the changes that the vendors are suggesting, their environment will become more complex, at least in the short term. We started to discuss this additional complexity in our last newsletter using desktop virtualization as an example. We will continue that discussion in this newsletter.

Citrix downplays Red Hat's decision to drop Xen

One of the complexities that are associated with implementing desktop virtualization is the shifting lineup of vendors. As recently as a year ago VMware was by far the dominant hypervisor vendor. Whether you like VMware or not is not the point. The point is that a single vendor environment is less complex to plan and manage than a multi-vendor environment. For example, each hypervisor vendor has its own set of protocols that run over the WAN. The complexity of managing the performance of those protocols grows dramatically as the number of protocols increases.

Today, VMware is still the most commonly used hypervisor, but it is becoming increasingly common to find IT organizations using other hypervisors, including Xen from Citrix, KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) from Red Hat and Hyper-V from Microsoft. We believe by the end of next year, there will be relatively few IT organizations that use VMware exclusively.

One of the key factors driving the erosion of VMware's dominance in the hypervisor environment is that Microsoft is giving away Hyper-V for free. Given both Microsoft's dominance of the desktop and the fact that they are not charging for Hyper-V, there will be a significant increase in the adoption of Hyper-V. So is this the beginning of the end of VMware as we know it? Yes it is. We believe over the next few years that the percentage of VMware's revenues that come from the sale of its hypervisor will continually shrink. Is this the end of VMware? Absolutely not. Over the last few years VMware has begun to transform itself into a management company. It has done this by acquiring a number of companies, including Zimbra, SpringSource, Blue Lane Technologies and B-hive. In February VMware acquired several products from EMC's Ionix management portfolio.

VMware's transformation demonstrates its belief that over the next couple of years IT organizations will increasingly choose a hypervisor based on the associated management functionality and how well the associated protocols perform over the WAN. Over that timeframe, the management environment will get notably more complex. IT organizations will need to have management tools from each of their hypervisor providers because at least today there is not a common tool set that can perform all of the requisite management functions. IT organizations also need to understand the relative positioning of the management tools provided by the hypervisor vendors and the solutions provided by traditional management vendors such as CA. Are these tools well integrated? Are they complimentary? Slightly competitive? Highly competitive? None of this sounds easy to us.

The challenges associated with desktop virtualization are just one reason why we believe that over the next few years that the IT environment will get notably more complex. In a future newsletter we will begin the discussion of the changing data center network. The complexity that lies ahead for the data center network makes desktop virtualization look simple.

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