Archive for September, 2009

Clouds, Vapor and Other Things That Don’t Quite Exist Yet?

Virtualization Critical Evaluation, Chapter 16

VMworld 2009 left me with doubts and concerns. No, not because there is something wrong with vSphere, or such. But because for the first time, I got the impression, perception, that the core of the latest VMworld event was more flash than substance. I have never seen vendors so aggressive in trying to impress the hell out of the big whales, or true enterprise customers. For example, given three (3) evenings, well four (4) evenings, if you attend the TAM day events, I know of some Fortune 10 representatives that had 10 or 15 invitations to dinner, or even just casual discussions over an open bar, etc., stacked upon each other. VMware was of course mixing as well, with the best of them, doing the VMware best to affirm customer loyalty and commitment.

EMC seemed subdued, NetApp seemed dominate, more tuned into the customers? IBM and HP doing a lot of Look at Me, Look at What We Have Now broadcasting to anyone that would listen. Are my perceptions wrong? Many of the smaller vendors, were pulling all the tricks possible to get exposure, girls in nurse uniforms, girls in skin tight silver body suits, the art of the hook, or eye candy methods to get geeks to stop at booths was in high form this year? I for one should not be complaining, it made for an interesting exhibit experience! Of course every VMworld has had something unique to look at, for those of us that are white males anyways! Please, a drawing for a Wii? How about a PS3 and a XBOX 360 together, delivered by the girls in the nurse uniforms? Now that would be a crowd maker! What a raffle that would be!

But this year just seemed to push the edge beyond a reasonable point for flash but no substance? There was a lack of style and taste so obvious beyond years past? Maybe it was the lack of vendors that buck VMware to a degree that really got my attention? The few counter culture souls that had Got Xen? shirts, put a smile on my face. Now, many of you will say I hate Xen, not so, I just think and have said before, that Xen has no significant path for growth potential now that Hyper-V R2 is a true threat to VMware vSphere, and KVM is growing to reasonable maturity because a few Work-Load-Management vendors officially announced support for KVM even if their actual product support is vapor or limited? No one was taking on VMware straight on that attended VMworld 2009, everyone was in step with VMware, and this is something I did not want to see, per my perception, everyone was VMware friendly to the point they dripped VMware spiel from official VMware press releases, thus making for a rather dull conference. VMware should accept all challenges, come one come all, even at VMworld letting the VMware product suites defend their superior position, as such, no? Where was the Critix booth to challenge VMware? Where was Microsoft? Heck where was Xen with a huge tower of a booth saying, Xen is better than VMware Dang it! It is the VMworld conference not the VMware World conference, right?

Maybe this is what I missed, the great impact concept from anyone? The great Oh My God idea from VMware of VMworld events of the past? I am sorry but beyond the cloud concept, which is still weak and quasi consistent in definition, there is nothing but a desert of vapor or near vapor solutions. For example, provisioning does not integrate painlessly to work-load-management, work-load-management does not drive different hypervisors with HA & DRS or even VMotion like functions in a vendor agnostic fashion? Where is the painless transport between Hyper-V, vSphere and KVM? True, development is being done to establish work-load-management solutions, to drive the cloud use and automation, but the options are limited and incomplete so far, lacking robust maturity.

I am not being critical without cause, vendors have had 18 months per my calculations to establish cloud strategies and solutions, at the least between Xen, VMware and Hyper-V, and the claim that everyone was awaiting for vSphere API just does not gain traction with those I have discussed this topic with so far. It seems everyone is learning all the bad traits from Microsoft, in not doing original work, versus purchase solutions that need work over with considerable care to be integrated, and then take a long time to do this through version 2.0, 3.0, etc., to achieve any stable scaled result. The last thing we all need is a group of cloud management solutions that are all virtually (no pun intended) identical, and silos among themselves, and all have the same gaps?

Everything at VMworld 2009 that could be considered 3rd party was little more than attempting to improve on something VMware has already done? And yet, VMware is showing its own cracks in its ivory tower of virtualization, with some ugly bugs and/or design constraints around scaling and scope, cough, did someone say HA? The big comment I heard several times was things should work-as-advertised now that got a lot of attention from customers and those walking the halls. Original ideas were few and far between all the add-ons and tweaks, however, it would serve VMware better, to improve what exists rather than just add new features that VMware marketing thinks will sell to smaller and smaller niches, is chasing market share profitable over the long term?

But a key question still exists, after we all have a cloud work-load-management solution, to drive our own variant of ESXi stateless nodes, driving vCenter (and related toys) as an automation hub, not as a management console, what is next? Is it time to replace the batteries in the old crystal ball? Maybe, because the dream of a floating, global, datacenter, that follows time zone changes, with dynamic application on demand scaling and loading remains a dream for most of us that don’t have extensive engineering teams or deep information technology resources? Oh, a virtualization cloud, right. Is just that, a vaporous dream? Clouds are mostly vapor, so why should I be surprised?

2 comments September 15th, 2009


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