I’ve read that 80% of VMware customer only have vSphere and aren’t leveraging other tools and products from VMware. As a result, I’ve wanted to work on a white paper that focuses on alternatives to the VMware ecosystem. I simply don’t have time to work on the white paper and the scope just gets bigger and bigger. Instead of writing a static white paper, I decided to dedicate a page on the blog to a running blog post that will compare VMware solutions to other products on the market. It’s going to be a living document. By living document, I mean the content will change as I find new information or get corrected by the many vendors I’ll offend.
Alternatives to vSphere
I don’t believe there’s a realistic alternative to VMware vSphere for most enterprises. There have been some interesting attempts. Companies tried to make OpenStack a free vSphere. That’s not realistic. However, there are some interesting attempts at alternative commercial ecosystems. There’s plenty of data and comparisons out there for Hyper-V and KVM in general. I won’t waste time initially looking at those solutions. One solution of interest is Nutanix’s “new” hypervisor named Acropolis (names are harder and harder to come by). There’s a fairly decent introduction to Nutanix’ strategy over on ZDNet. Acropolis may not be solid competition to VMware vSphere today, but it’s something to keep an eye-on.
Eric Wright (@discoposse) posted a good overview on the considerations of multi-hypervisor environments. It’s a good start on understanding multi-hypervisor environments. I’ve found while there’s a lot of chatter around multi-hypervisor environments there’s very little interaction about the topic.
VSAN – Storage/Hyperconverged
There’s a lot of money in storage. Nutanix’s entire business started on the concept of replacing your storage array with commodity x86 hardware. Nutanix has marketed hard against VCE and the Vblock. From a technical perspective, I don’t understand the comparison. Unless customers were just looking at the wrong platform, Vblock and Nutanix don’t compete. I would never consider running the same mission-critical workloads positioned for Vblocks on commodity x86 storage. However, there’s a lot of profit in storage.
Continuing to use Nutanix as an example, a friend had an entry level 3-node Nutanix cluster quoted, and it was over $100K. Over a $100K for 3-commodity Intel servers and some IP equals some good margin. On the other side of The Valley is VSAN. To show the potential for profit VMware charges $1495 per CPU to enable an all Flash option within VSAN. Many bloggers/analysts note that there’s no real additional engineering to justify the massive uplift. It’s pure profit. That said, this is a crowded space and expect a good deal of content about vendors such as Maxta, SimpliVity, Scale Computing, SpringPath and of course Nutanix.
NSX – Networking
VMware NSX is a big bet by VMware. The acquisition of Nicira has destroyed their partnership with Cisco. I wrote an FUD busting piece on VMware vs. Cisco that I spent a good amount of time researching. Expect content discussing alternatives about OpenDaylight, Cisco ACI, OpenContrail and Pluribus Network to start.
Data Center Management & Orchestration
VMware has a fight on it’s hands with OpenStack. While I’ve been both a fan and skeptic of OpenStack (it’s simply too big of a mission), it undoubtedly has some serious industry support. Everyone from EMC, IBM, Cisco, and HP are betting big on OpenStack. I see it as the main conduit for enterprise companies to battle both VMware and AWS. VMware has had a major focus on orchestration, I’ve written about how they want to rule the data center and will use OpenStack as a means to their end.
Outside of OpenStack, this isn’t exactly my wheelhouse. But, I’ll be looking at vendors such as VMTurbo in this section.
One of the things I like about VMware is that it’s a difficult company to sneak up on. VSAN and NSX show that they are willing to break a few eggs and partnerships to stay relevant. Even if they haven’t seen the adoption of solutions outside of vSphere, they try hard. Containers is another area that VMware has continued to expand their reach. VMware introduced their very own Linux distribution and container management strategy. Expect to see plenty of Docker and CoreOS in this section.
I haven’t decided how I’ll run the comments section of this page. I can imagine it can get unmanageable. I’ll let it ride open for now as it would still be searchable and may add value for some.
6/15/15 – Cleaned up some errors in grammar and added link to @discoposse’s blog post.