So the virtualization event of the year has come and gone. With it several new product announcements specifically designed to fix scale, security and management of cloud based infrastructure.
As always the event was an awesome opportunity to interact with people from all areas of the industry. After much confusion regarding some of the acquisitions, VMware is putting forth a vision of the future. What was interesting was the shift in focus to applications. The comment "it's all about the applications" was reinforced at the keynotes and some of the future looking breakout sessions. This sounds decidedly familiar to Citrix's mantra, but is it really? VMware went to great pains to distinguish between legacy and future application development platforms. Clearly they see Citrix as an enabler of legacy applications but not as a platform or application framework. This is what Springsource is all about. It is a hosted development platform much like Microsoft Azure.
The new generation of applications will live in the cloud with a small client side pluggin that provides the user interface; the model that Apple has pioneered with the "AppStore". Citrix has moved quickly to emulate this through Dazzle but they are focused on delivery vs. delivering a development platform for customers.
There is evidence to strengthen this view, as Gartner recently released statistics that mention that 50% of the applications businesses consume are coming from the cloud (think salesforce.com). This integration will create new challenges for IT teams as they seek to ensure standards and compliance are maintained on 3rd party infrastructure that they do not have any visibility into. In addition they will be forced to move quickly as users who have become accustomed to the AppStore model are likely to pose a real threat to private internal information bleeding out to the Internet (i.e. If IT does not provide similar services why not use something like DropBox on my desktop or smartphone).
The hardware vendors are also moving quickly to take advantage of the rush to the cloud. Several announced turn key unified server, storage and networking hardware that can be purchased as a single unit or block. This will have an impact on integrators as they transition from providing component based services like VMware product deployment to Integrated Service Providers. Service Providers will have to become a one stop shop for the design, deployment and delivery of the entire stack of infrastructure. While those of us who have been doing virtualization for a while have largely made these adjustments because virtualization already tightly integrates the infrastructure components, there are still a few things that are not yet clear. In addition the demand for buying large blocks of infrastructure will inevitably lead to partnering and acquisitions between the software, hardware and service providers to shore up any gaps in their capabilities or ability to compete in certain markets.
It will be interesting to see if traditional infrastructure services will need to expand to incorporate development as an additional capability. VMware has already encouraged partners to start engaging customers in conversations around development. With VMware's stronger focus on a new generation or platform for development I wonder how long it will be before application development and virtual infrastructure become the same conversation.
I was speaking with one my colleagues and he could not get over the amount of product that was being introduced to optimize all different forms of virtualization (end user, storage, etc) The irony was not lost on us that a technology that was introduced to simplify management has introduced such a vast array of complexity into the market place. Even as problems are addressed the level of expertise that is required has increased significantly. This is apparent in the vSheild and Nexus products, targeted at many of the deficiencies in Virtual Infrastructure but requiring a different level of understanding of the network and security stack.
VMware decided to eat their own dog food a little and offered all labs from the cloud through several cloud providers. The amount of labs they were able to deliver using this strategy and the number of virtual machines they deployed and then refreshed was staggering over the 4 day conference. Clearly they have developed their own case study for the power of cloud computing even if the lifespan of the vms was typically under 90 minutes.
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