4 days. 115 degrees outside. 20,000 of my closest virtualization friends. VMworld Las Vegas was quite an experience. The Platform Computing booth was busy from start to finish with a demo of our award-winning Platform ISF private cloud (IaaS) management solution.
From attending the keynotes and speaking with attendees, I had 5 key takeaways from the event:
Gone are the days of having to start every conversation by explaining the difference between virtualization and private cloud. Of course this is a self-selected group but the education level has dramatically increased. We had many people stopping by to discuss their private cloud initiatives and how to get started.
2. VMware licensing has upset many
The new vSphere 5 licensing has caused many companies to reevaluate their dependency on VMware. The recent price increases had disrupted their planning and created additional fears about being locked in to a costly hypervisor (vCloud = vLockIn). VMware management tools manage VMware ESXi hypervisor--and that's it. There is a real fear of being locked into a specific stack and/or being required to upgrade to more expensive packages with lots of unnecessary functionality.
3. Multi-hypervisor is real
Even before the price increase, users have been evaluating a mixed hypervisor strategy. A common discussion is VMware’s closed support at the management layers. VMware is viewed as the gold standard when considering virtualizing production applications. End users already have or are seriously considering adding KVM (Platform is a member of the Open Virtualization Alliance) and to a lesser extend Xen into their roadmaps for non-production use cases (for example dev and test). These offer great density at lower cost.
4. The rise of application-centric thinking
In the early days of private clouds, most of the focus was on the transient IT services such as an OS or VM. Typical end users were developers needing access to standardized IT environments. Most of our conversations included discussions about additional levels of an application stack – including the middleware, application logic, and post-provisioning scripting. In summary, an application-centric private cloud. By standardizing IT service definitions to include these levels and automating delivery, companies can effectively define their own PaaS. While we position Platform ISF primarily as IaaS management, many of our customers think we are selling the solution short. Customers are using it to define and provision their own PaaS and SaaS applications. Ironically this was a major focus of VMware’s messaging, albeit in a hosted PaaS environment. Most of our larger enterprise customers want to tightly integrate their on-premise data center infrastructure and security systems into an on-premise personalized PaaS.
5. Physical is part of cloud
When one thinks cloud, the natural mental model = virtualization. However, I was surprised by the number of conversations where end users want to add integrated physical provisioning. Sometimes the focus was for standalone bare metal provisioning. But as we move more towards an application-framework, there are components in the app stack such as the database server that might only exist on a physical system for scalability and performance. Operating within this mixed environment is a core requirement to deal with both non-production transient IT services as well as production apps with flexing and stringent service level agreements (SLA).
At Platform Computing, we are not cloud washing our products. On top of being named the #1 vendor by Forrester, we received the Best of VMworld Finalist award for Private Cloud Management.