Blog Post

VMware's Cloud OS Is Compelling, But Closed

VMware (s vmw) today rolled out its cloud computing operating system software, vSphere 4. The offering brings together VMware’s suite of dynamic virtualization management tools -– including vMotion, Distributed Resource Manager and Distributed Power Management — under one roof, and marks significant improvements in transaction and network performance. The company is also advancing its hybrid cloud initiative via free trials from VMware cloud partners and its new Virtual Appliance Marketplace, and has a slew of partners spanning the IT spectrum.

But all of this functionality comes at a cost.

For starters, users are locked into VMware. vSphere 4 manages only VMware machines, and vCloud supports only VMware-based public clouds. The problem is that many of the largest clouds, including Amazon EC2, use Xen as the hypervisor. Also, many data centers incorporate multiple hypervisors (i.e., VMware, XenServer and Hyper-V), and there are internal cloud and virtualization management solutions that support all three. Some even seamlessly manage physical and virtual machines, while VMware sticks to virtualization. If companies are going to invest large amounts of money in building VMware clouds (vSphere 4 Enterprise Plus, which incorporates all the cloud capabilities, comes in at $3,495 per processor), it will be difficult to justify advancing either cloud or straight virtualization initiatives with outside products.

The question is whether this impressive array of capabilities and partners is worth the apparent VMware lock-in. Cloud computing is as much about flexibility as it is about cost savings, which means using the right tools for the job, regardless of whether they are VMware, or whether they virtualized at all.

13 Responses to “VMware's Cloud OS Is Compelling, But Closed”

  1. The larger benefits of cloud computing are ultra-low cost ( mostly self-service ) provisioning of resources(read applications) without having to go through the corporate hierarchies for permissions, which was an expensive and outdated way of dealing with computing resources. The other part of the equation for corporate clouds is monitoring and billing for these resources to various departments in a transparent fashion. On my spreadsheet I have never ever been able to justify the total cost of ownership of VMWare Infrastructure licensing especially in India while alternatives like Xen(the opensource version shipped with CentOS) and now rapidly maturing Open Source Cloud provisioning platforms exist. A lot is made about vmotion and power savings possible with non-24×7 environments, but it is possible to do similar things with Xen without noticeable downtime. VMWare definitely needs to think about interoperating with other hypervisors especially when they don’t support high end platforms like IA-64 directly.

  2. … just what we need, yet another Markitechture move in the already confusing cloudsphere. v-sphere/cloud is no more a cloud OS than IBM tivoli or even HP openview (ok so maybe not openview) applied to management of single-company products.

  3. Fair point about vSphere’s lack of support for Xen and Hyper-V HOWEVER I still think it’s pretty cool that they are providing companies with tools to build their own cloud computing infrastructures instead of having to hand over the keys and the kingdom to Google or Amazon. The situation reminds me of how we used to outsource services wholesale to India until we figured out it makes more sense to do it strategically–same thing here with VMware: outsource to a hosting provider where it makes sense, run your own internal cloud for apps and data that need to stay in-house.

    • Vikas Singhania

      Unfortunately, we have taken a turn against Red Hat and Novell in this case. Remember when Microsoft marketed that it owned something like 85% of all websites. This was due to the number of Microsoft servers that came embedded with IIS. The same on the desktop, IE embedded in the desktop, therefore it received a larger chunk of the “browser share”. Red Hat and Novell played into this by embedding Xen into both their Free and Enterprise OSes. Unfortunately, because the cost is $0 dollars it usually doesn’t show a blip in these types of reports. Should we take the stance that every server install of Fedora, CentOS, RHEL, openSuSE, and SuSE Enterprise is a virtual server in this case. If you say yes, then I believe their market share goes up dramatically. Maybe Red Hat and Novell need to take a marketing page from the Legacy FUD of Microsoft.