Whenever a company changes the name of their major product you often have to wonder what level of change they are trying to signal. In the case of VMware which changed ESX to vSphere yesterday, the signal is one of intent. They could have called it vWorldDomination but that might have been a bit too caustic. So instead they chose a global metaphor. Despite the subtlety, make no mistake, this version is a direct affront to how we have traditionally run our data centers with traditional operating systems and element-centric system management tools.
They made their case initially at VMWorld EMEA when they declared that a new “operating system” is needed in the virtualized data center and that the old model no longer applies. They called it Cloud OS but didn’t deliver on this vision. vSphere is the first step towards this new model in that it significantly shifts the focus from simply virtualizing workloads to managing and automating pools of VMs and shows how management at the virtual infrastructure layer can address data center efficiency in ways other layers can’t. It also moves the VM world closer to being able to manage business services that span VMs (although other tools like HP Operations Orchestrator and BMC BladeLogic still do this better) and track and diagnose their performance with AppSpeed, previously BeeHive, (although not as well as Hyperic).
The value of Sun’s Solaris installed base proved its worth once again this week as Oracle found it too tempting to pass up and pulled the trigger trumping IBM. A large percent of Oracle’s most profitable customers run their Oracle wares on Solaris and for them to fall further into the hands of the mortal enemy alone justifies the purchase. Sure, Oracle gains complimentary IP in Java, MySQL, and a very competent services organization but most of the rest is likely to end up off Oracle’s books.
It’s not every day that we read about a software maker buying a hardware company and that in itself is perhaps the biggest sign of things to come from this acquisition. Oracle, like Microsoft, enjoys healthy profit margins from a software-only business model. While Oracle is far more consulting-heavy than its Redmond rival, it profits rise above IBM, HP, Cisco and others because of its low cost of goods. Sun’s server and storage businesses don’t fit with this model and certainly don’t justify the further investment in the SPARC microprocessor that will be needed to keep this business healthy. So despite Oracle’s statement that, “Oracle plans to engineer and deliver an integrated system -- applications to disk -- where all the pieces fit and work together, so customers do not have to do it themselves,” expect Oracle to shop these units tout suite. Dell and HP are likely to bid for these businesses and do a strategic alignment on product collaboration like HP’s last year on the Oracle Data Warehouse.
The Open Cloud Manifesto, backed by its thirty-six firms that signed on with its debut, outlines core value propositions, points out challenges, sets goals, and then lists several principles of what an open cloud should accomplish. Until now, there has been no real attempt to define or restrict the term or use of the term "cloud", but it’s hard to view this effort as highly credible when many of the early cloud leaders did not sign onto it. Most glaringly absent are Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and salesforce.com. Why aren’t all vendors signing onto this manifesto?
Well, one such reason given by Microsoft was their discomfort of being asked to sign the document "as is" without any chance for input.