I just went on a Twitter rant of predictions on where I believe VMware is going ultimately with their plan to live beyond their market leading server virtualization technology and on to eventual data center domination. There’s no doubt in my mind that Citrix and Microsoft are catching up and may even surpass vSphere in capability. The x86 hypervisor is steadily becoming a commodity. But, isn’t this the eventual destination for all great innovation? Even the great Tony Stark couldn’t keep the Iron Man tech to himself. If Mickey Rourke could figure out how to build an Iron Man suit, Microsoft can build a fairly decent x86 hypervisor.
Again, VMware isn’t sweating bullets. Their Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) strategy is pretty straight forward. It’s vSphere+NSX+VSAN+OpenStack=SDDC. Notice how I left vCloud out of the equation? If a customer is running vCloud they’ve already brought into VMware’s SDDC vision and VMware has achieved it’s goal in that environment.
vCloud is a decent product but it’s not the collective future of IaaS cloud management. If AWS gains traction in the enterprise VMware will need to respond with something that can scale beyond their current customer base. VMware wants a foot in your data center and it doesn’t matter which door you leave open. VMware has disruption in their blood and they will try to be as disruptive as possible in each and every area of infrastructure operations that they can. This may include being disruptive to one of the “core” products in vCloud. They will use abstraction via virtualization to achieve their goal.
You need look no further than NSX as the model for future VMware products and pricing. From a technology perspective VMware loves recursive virtualization. Recursive virtualization is when you can take something that’s already virtualized and do it again. For example you can take ESXi and run it inside of ESXi – recursive virtualization. Why is this important? Because when you can fully abstract a physical concept you no longer have a technical reliance of the underlying hardware or software for that matter. This is where our NSX example comes into play. Unlike vCenter or SRM, two key feature/components of vSphere, NSX can be sold independently of the vSphere suite. NSX is the perfect example of the type of abstraction by virtualization VMware is looking to achieve across their major products. You want to run OpenStack + KVM instead of vCloud + vSphere then VMware is fine to sell you NSX separately for your virtual networking needs.
But, this is only the beginning. VMware is perfecting vSAN, their virtualized storage solution as part of the vSphere suite. Right now it makes perfect sense to sell vSAN as part of their hypervisor suite. However, I predict when the hypervisor market starts to tighten you’ll see vSAN for OpenStack + your favorite hypervisor. vSAN today is a beta solution that will eventually gain its independence from vSphere. VMware is just in the process of perfecting selling products without the vSphere crutch. This is another reason why the Nicira purchase is so important. VMware didn’t just acquire new technology they acquired a sales force that already has experience selling into the network operations teams which VMware didn’t have prior relationships.
This all seems pretty clear to me or maybe I’m crazy. But, if I’m right the next year and half will be interesting. If I’m wrong, I can alway claim my wordpress account got hacked.