VMworld: A Strategy Straight out of Redmond?

Is the market doomed to a big orange, blue, or red cloud? Even if you won’t be attending VMworld this week in San Francisco, you can bet virtualization and clouds will be dominating the tech media and blogs throughout the course of the week.

We expect that VMware will announce plans to move up the stack and attempt to secure VM management customers into their evolving cloud platform. Platform won’t be attending VMWorld this year, and here’s why.

As we see it, there are four cloud computing camps currently forming:

  1. VM camp – led by VMWare and other OS/VM vendors (Microsoft, Red Hat and Citrix) who believe clouds should be based on homogeneous OS/VM
  2. Enterprise Management camp—led by the Big 4 enterprise management behemoths who are offering cloud portals tied to their existing management tools and acquiring components to keep their customers as they upgrade to cloud
  3. Cloudy Server camp—these are the cloud-in-a-box systems vendors who suggest that building private clouds is as simple as a plug-and-play solution (It’s not! And it’s more than a commitment to a single hardware or software vendor)
  4. Open Platform camp—promoted and built by customers who are intent on maintaining vendor leverage and avoiding lock-in. Platform Computing and other independents play here by working across the stack with an explicit heterogeneous strategy

Don’t get us wrong—each of these approaches is a legitimate path. However, when it comes to private clouds for medium and large enterprises, the risks of complexity, high cost and vendor lock-in become clear for the first three approaches. It’s here that the VM and Cloudy Server camps are better viewed as components and pools of standardized building blocks than the über-cloud (hardware + OS + VM + middleware + management, all from one-vendor!). Likewise, the Enterprise Management camp starts to look as complicated and expensive as the thing it was supposed to replace (itself!). We are told that we still need all their existing management tools plus some new functions and glues to build a cloud – just pay them more!

That’s not to say that the Open Platform approach is a panacea. But over time, it does deliver on a core promise of cloud that is to reduce vendor lock-in while commoditizing IT components.

The reason Platform won’t be at VMworld this year is that we want to make the statement that “clouds have no colors” and there is an alternative approach to either going big or legacy.

Integrated stacks are good and provide real value. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that when vendors control those stacks, they are both sticky and expensive. When customers own and control their stacks via heterogeneous open systems, they face integration issues, but in return, they get vendor leverage, great prices and commodity scale-out control. That’s the lesson that we’ve learned over the past 18 years and the core reason for our customer’s success.

We’re betting our business again on the open systems approach with cloud. A cloud management layer, such as Platform’s ISF product, allows companies to have private cloud in their own way and get value from an integrated, heterogeneous stack while also benefitting from the other promises of the cloud, such as automated provisioning, self-service, chargeback capabilities and workload management for a wide variety of applications across both VM and physical servers. And with solutions such as our Platform ISF Starter Pack companies can evaluate how a private cloud can work for them at low risk, low cost ($4995) and in a few days rather than months.

What color cloud do you want for your organization?


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