VMware Wants To Be Your Network Operating System Of Choice

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).

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Covetus The Sun Installed Base

James Staten 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.

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The Open Cloud Manifesto

James StatenThe 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.

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A Reason to Refresh

James StatenIntel did more than just introduce a faster server processor today with the introduction of the Xeon 5500; it enabled a greater level of differentiation to its server and storage vendor partners that ultimately will result in a broader set of choices and better ones for enterprise infrastructure & operations professionals. While the performance improvements of the 5500 in themselves are impressive, there is just as much to like in the new memory and I/O architectures and power efficiency. The new memory architecture triples bandwidth over the 5400 and brings back DDR3 allowing up to 18 DIMMs per CPU. This lets customers reach much higher memory configurations at a lower cost. While you have to add memory three DIMMs at a time, 36 GBs per socket is now achievable with low cost 2GB DIMMs. This is a significant boon to server virtualization where memory is typically the first resource to be fully utilized. Cisco is taking this capacity even higher in its UCS blade servers.

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IBM in talks to acquire Sun?

James StatenA big blue cloud overshadowed Sun’s announcement today unveiling their Open Cloud Computing platform. Media was a buzz today at rumors of a possible acquisition of Sun Microsystems by IBM. Still a rumor at this point, the story brings up many questions about how feasible this acquisition really is and if it makes sense from IBM’s perspective as well as Sun’s.

Here is Forrester’s take:

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Red Hat And Citrix Ratchet Up Open Source Virtualization Relevancy

James StatenThe open source hypervisor landscape got a lot more interesting today after the latest announcements from Red Hat and Citrix. Both were shots across the bow of VMware’s juggernaut, but Red Hat’s volley may have overshot and struck Xen.org in the stern.

Citrix, the flag bearer for Xen.org, recently announced that two significant hypervisor features would be made available in the free version of its Xen distribution, XenServer – live migration and multi-node management. Neither of these capabilities are provided in the free version of VMware ESX and live migration won’t be available in Microsoft Hyper-V until Windows Server 2008 R2. Citrix is also busily placing calls to the major Linux distributors hoping to sign them up to commitments to replace the free Xen.org hypervisor with the free XenServer.

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IBM gets serious about cloud computing

JamesWe've known for a while that cloud computing is important to IBM. It seems nearly every division has an effort in some aspect of the opportunity. And marketing has done its best to make it all look cohesive by wrapping these efforts under the Blue Cloud banner. But now we know they're serious. They have finally appointed a cloud czar, Erich Clementi, to bring all these efforts together. A veteran of their Systems & Technologies Group, he led SMB solutions, and last year he also took over IBM's Enterprise Initiatives. In those roles, Erich learned how important (and challenging) it is to coordinate efforts across their massive divisions while delivering holistic value to customers. Outside of Global Services, IBM doesn't have the best track record for these coordinated efforts, but we're willing to grant Clementi a grace period to prove us wrong.

And he won't be alone, as IBM has disclosed his set of lieutenants:

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Knowing Isn't Hot But It Should Be

James
Last week Jason Newton at HP blogged about what his company thinks (or at least wants you to think) are the hot trends in the data center for 2009. He provides a good list that's less a reflection of what enterprise customers are necessarily doing but certainly what they should be thinking. Heck, his list reflects a lot of the tactics we discuss with customers every day in our inquiries and published research, such as in "Retrofitting Your Data Center for Better Capacity".

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Adaptive Infrastructure No Longer Just A Vision

James
At the beginning of this decade HP put forth a vision for the future data center that they have now fulfilled with both products and services offerings. Viewed by some at the time as a reaction to IBM Applications on Demand, HP coined Adaptive Infrastructure as its vision for a "composable" data center that let resources  be quickly and easily assigned to business services based on their needs and for IT Ops to achieve and maintain high utilization of their data center resources.

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Addressing Virtualization's Achilles Heel

Jamesstaten
The benefits of virtualization are quite obvious but when you start to really increase the density of virtual machines in order to maximize utilization suddenly it ain't such a simple proposition. The latest CPUs from AMD and Intel are more than up to the task of running 10-20 or more applications at a time. Most servers run out of memory and I/O bandwidth well before processing power. Recent announcements from the leading server vendors have been made to address the memory side by packing more DIMMs onto a single motherboard (including blade server boards), but you can only add so many Ethernet cards and Fibre Channel HBAs. Oh yeah, and then there's the switch ports to go with them (blade systems help a lot here).

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