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Cloud Cover – VMWare’s market charge

VMWare takes the private cloud (p-cloud) challenge and begins assembling the pieces required to redefine the data center. But are they thinking forward on the partnerships required to dominate the market?

No sooner did I speculate on who will make a run at providing
p-cloud (private cloud) management tools than VMWare comes charging
like malcontent bull in a Pamplona ally.

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Like Apple before it, VMWare is co-opting a single letter of the
alphabet to brand a series of products. Apple owns ‘i’ and VMWare now
owns ‘v’. I hereby establish my claim to ‘g’ for everything I create,
such as g-confusion and g-discontent.

One of VMWare’s initiatives is vCloud, which is one component of their broader Virtual Datacenter Operating System
(VDC-OS) gestalt. VDC-OS – a clumsy acronym in an otherwise slick
acronym flooded market – seeks to virtualize the data center in very
broad terms. It already has select virtualization components for CPUs,
storage and network and a 2009 roadmap for central management.

What is interesting about their announcement this week is the
addition of a security module. Though conceptually there is nothing
fancy about their security addition, it is the addition itself which is
telling. As I recently mentioned, the winner in the p-cloud space will
have to stitch together all the normal IT functions into one tool that
allows the total abstraction of the data center – auto-discovery,
server classification, network segment management, virtualization,
provisioning, monitoring, redundancy, failover, alerting and more. That
VMWare has taken on a small aspect of security shows they understand
the whole product definition for p-cloud management is incomplete.

It is good that they recognize the problem. I wonder if they foresee the solution.

P-clouds present a perpetual problem with whole product development,
namely that nobody can do it on their own. The primary reason the high
tech business is rife with alliance that change faster than smoochers
at a spin-the-bottle party is that everyone is seeking to create a
whole product by getting other companies to provide some part of the
total solution. As markets and competitive realities change, so do
alliances.

The closest thing to a permanent relationship in Silicon Valley
exists between Larry Ellison and his ego. After that the longevity of a
press release is the nearest runner-up.

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So VMWare faces a problem. To virtualize the data center requires
providing in a virtualization management tool all the infrastructure
management components that CTO’s have bought over the years from best
of breed vendors. VMWare would be certifiably insane to try building
VDC-OS by itself. They do not have not can they acquire and rapidly
integrate expertise in all the different facets of data center
management. They have to partner and open VDC-OS in such a way that
other solution providers can port their existing technologies into
VMWare’s evolving infrastructure.

Cisco helps. Nobody knows networking like Cisco, and they have
tagged with VMWare on some other projects. Since virtualizing the
network is part of the whole product definition for p-clouds, VMWare
has a head start. Expect partnerships with HP (monitoring ala
OpenView), possibly AlarmPoint (alerting) and others. VMWare has
already implemented an API to bridge VDC-OS the data center cloud to
external clouds, so perhaps the APIs will enable other technologies to
aid in managing a p-cloud.

Do not expect a lot of participation from Microsoft and Citrix.

In the oddest alliance since Microsoft and Novel made kissy-face, Redmond has partnered with Citrix to bridge not only Hyper-V and Xen but Citrix’s more capable virtualization management tool.
This is a shotgun marriage where two competitors with nothing even
close to a whole product are teaming to block VMWare’s inertia.
Microsoft and Citrix stand to lose enterprise mindshare if (or perhaps
when) VMWare brings true p-clod capabilities to the market.

VMWare has a vision, and at first glance appears to understand that
they need to open their architecture to extend it outwardly. As
interest in VDC-OC grows, they VMWare will feel the heat to open
further – ala Salesforce.com App Exchange – to allow nearly any addition functionality to be added without VMWare having to build it themselves.

Once I see that, I’ll know who will lead … nay, who will own the p-cloud market.