I was actually counting the number of times the word "cloud" was mentioned in his keynote and guess what? 35 times. As you can tell this is a key word in the strategy document that VMware is working from. Whether it's internal clouds or external clouds, it's here to stay and VMware is going after it in a big way. The ability to allocate memory, computing and storage resources to users and applications on demand and as the business needs them (Application vServices is the policy driven SLA engine that will provide availablity and scalability to all apps no matter the hardware or location) is something that other companies are doing of course, but I think VMware is positioning itself well to do this in a way that they will be successful.
Let's touch briefly upon the other components in the VDC-OS. I spelled out what Application vServices was above, so let's hit the next one; Infrastructure vServices. This is where server, storage and networks are built, allocated, and torn-down to create a highly efficient "on-premise" infrastructure. The next one; Cloud vServices is where the 'on-premise' infrastructure is federated to a third-party cloud infrastructure. The last one, and the one that I think will become the biggest differentiator, Management vServices. This is the holistic management tool to manage the VDC-OS and the applications running on it. This is still a work in progress, so I'll be curious to see what other technologies they will be wrapping into this component to give it even more capabilities. I'll dig deeper into each of these components in future posts, so stay tuned.
So what does this mean for the competitive landscape? Well Citrix did not disappoint because on Monday September 15th, Citrix released its "cloud" initiative called Citrix Cloud Center or C3. So the "neck-and-neck" race is still on. But it went pretty much unnoticed as folks that I talked to at the Citrix booth, not one of them was asked about it. Hmm, all that speaking in the keynote about "Cloud" and Citrix isn't even asked. What they were asked about was, of course, XenServer 5 and XenDesktop. Proving to me that people are curious to see where XenServer and XenDesktop are in comparison to VMware. C3 does offer a new version of XenServer called XenServer Cloud Edition which sports a consumption-based pricing structure for those providers that charge on metered resource use. C3 also brings the power of NetScaler, WANScaler, and Workflow Studio. I can also tell you that the Citrix booth was not quiet, they were constantly with attendees. I caught Marathon's demo and was very impressed with what is included with XenServer 5 from them.
So to pick up where I left off, I think it's going to come down to a holistic perspective to manage these components centrally. I think VMware has the lead at this point, but Citrix is bringing the management and workload provisioning capabilities of its full portfolio so we'll just have to stay tuned to see how this shakes out.
Where does this leave you today? Right now, it's waiting and watching to see how this new battlefront shapes up. The desktop is going to be the real focus in the coming year or so, so be prepared to hear and see more and more around this. There was great talk by Paul Maritz and Stephen Herrod about delivering desktops, apps and data to users not devices, so they are taking the "user experience" position and running with it. In the demo we saw in Tuesday's keynote, they are on the right track here. I think they will have some distance to make up as I think Citrix has the lead here.
I had an interesting observation during a conference floor conversation with an industry colleague. If one were to stop and look around the Solutions Exchange floor you would notice that there were lots of third party vendors of varying sizes and shapes that covered everything that a company could imagine to manage, analyze, and scale out your virtual infrastructures. It looked like a very "target rich" environment of potential acquisition targets and mergers. The one thing that I think you are going to see in this industry in the next three to five years is the consolidation of vendors that are doing pretty much the same thing and the acquisition of some by either VMware or Citrix. With such a big push into the cloud play, maybe Elastra, Egnera, Cassatt, or even Surgient could be the next targets for Citrix or VMware to round out the real management and infrastructure needs these companies need. Although with VMware's recent acquistion of Beehive you may not see them fishing for new technology any time in the next few quarters.
So how does this new vision sit with CIO and other IT management inside VMware customers? As I stated at the beginning of this post, they now have a roadmap and solutions to get to the next level of virtualization and use virtualization technologies strategically instead of in the tactical manner (server consolidation) that most are using it today. To have the ability to have an infrastructure ready to come up when demand increases or SLA targets are hit will be first and foremost a major cost saver and secondly will show virtualizations value to the business to enable it to maintain competitive advantage.
I think the week overall was a great success and the folks that I spoke to were very excited to see what the coming year or so has in store. I guess it comes down to just waiting and watching. Only time will tell.