Archive for July, 2009

VMworld 2009: Beyond Romancing the Core

Expectations and Ideas about VMworld 2009 based on VMworld Events of the Past

VMworld 2009? What will it be like? Will it be exciting or boring? Before I tackle that question, I believe a brief review VMworld over the last 5 years, this is not exhaustive, but more impressionistic… Oh, and brush up on your Shakespeare… The history of virtualization of course if viewed through VMworld events is rather dramatic.

I remember VMworld 2004 and 2005, the virtualization space was still a bit out law, a bit radical, and something you did that was socially unacceptable. Almost hid under the bed, so your parents would not find it, right? The greed of virtualization, if that is accurate term, had yet to strangle the wow factor down to something realistic in reference to virtualization. If you knew virtualization, you walked on water, if you did not know virtualization, you were just normal, if normal is a word that can be used for people that work in the information technology subculture. What was the big deal, beyond VMotion and VirtualCenter? The future promise of more shared storage options I remember being a key item of interest, whispers of iSCSI, and scale and scope improvements. How would you classify this era, Henry the V, or Romeo and Juliet? True, VMworld 2004 was bold, and 2005 was strong. A Midsummer Night’s Dream might be applicable given the unreal feeling VMworld had in the beginning.

VMworld 2006 and 2007 where the dawn of feature set expansion and growth of new elements to virtualization, AMD and Intel where getting into the swing of things, the ground work by Intel, for VT-x, VT-c, VT-d, and similar work along the same lines by AMD. In some respects this was the golden era of the hypervisor as central focus of virtualization. Sure, management tools and such came along in step, but the hypervisor was the key to all the plans and efforts. Behind the closed doors of the engineering research departments of various firms both sane and insane ideas were being evaluated, out sprang the lab management, life cycle management, and 10s if not 100s of some in-between solution concepts, but was everyone missing something? Or was it just the cost-saving focused customers were not as accepting of anything labeled virtualization as just a year or two before? I remember walking around the exhibits in 2007 thinking, well, this does not seem very exciting. HA and DRS were fine, but incremental steps, not crazy radical. This is the era of virtualization that I would describe as Taming of the Shrew.

VMworld 2008 had a few high points, but I was focused the specific ideas that were important to me, and those I support and work with, for example, better utilization of storage, faster greater virtual instance backups, better management of the environment at an enterprise scale. VMworld was full of things, that were ideas yet to be realized. A notable exception, PowerCLI or what would become PowerCLI, that specific break out session had some of the real honest old fashion energy that VMworld 2004 and 2005 seemed to be buzzing with. I remember also, there seemed to be a very large number of people at VMworld 2008 that were doing virtualization for the first time, I am sure this the case at all VMworld events, but for some reason 2008 it seemed more obvious to me. Maybe it was because I saw VMworld now as an experienced alumnus? I even was part of a presentation at VMworld 2008, so that gave me a different perspective as a limited speaker? Moreover, I was under whelmed by the VMware VM FT feature. As nice as VM FT is, I just was not that impressed, and to be fair I am not sure why, am I now jaded by virtualization? VMware SRM now reality seemed late to market? Some would argue this characterization but for me, this is the era I would classify as Much to Do about Nothing.

What do I expect from 2009? Right now I am not sure. Since 2007 I have been waiting for VMware to grab the concept of virtual containers and make it their own. You can only get so much done with master images, gold images, etc. You can only do so much with tweaking ESXi, which needed some tweaking. VMware has instead, gone to the clouds, literally in the virtualization sense. Yes, everyone is in love with clouds these days, I am not saying this is right or wrong, but I am saying it is not romancing the core, as the focus of virtualization once was. I believe VMware has missed a significant opportunity with virtualization containers. And the opportunity is long gone. True, VMware does not, did not own an operating system, in the classic sense; thus for VMware to get into the container scope, they may had to, will have to, deal with the operating system devils. Even the once dominate Oracle had to purchase an operating system to get a container model. I will always remember with a strong sense of nostalgia, my early career experience with SPARC hardware. Alas poor Solaris, I knew thee well. Sun Microsystems, may fights of computing angels take thee to thy rest. …Of course, my heartfelt apologies to the great Bard. VMworld 2009 may be closer to Hamlet, than I would want. For now, I would guess, the Merchant of Venice is applicable. After all, the director and actors are responsible for presenting Shylock such that the character is viewed with disdain or sympathy by the audience. If you don’t get the inferences here, well…read more Shakespeare.

Maybe the guys at Gartner that have been significant in their lack of pontificating about virtualization last year or so, have finally gotten the batteries in the old crystal ball replaced? RedHat, if not IBM as well, are focused on guiding KVM, and with RHEV beta a reality, the next logical step is not operating system isolation but containerization for RedHat. Hyper-V as it matures will become a containerization model I believe as well, where does that leave VMware? VMware… Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it. Five years ago it was done; now is the time again, to take on RedHat and Microsoft straight on, head on… Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Now, where did I leave that copy of Macbeth?

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