VMworld 2008 wrap-up – Part 2

In the first part of this wrap-up virtualization.info covered the announcements made by VMware during the opening keynotes and after them. But that is just a small part of the VMworld story.

This year on the exhibit floor there were 206 partners and competitors, representing the whole virtualization industry, and they had a lot to say as well.
In this second part we’ll try to summarize and analyze what kind of message the partners delivered while VMware was flying high in skies full of clouds.

The partners go for every opportunity, harsh competition and low profits.

Despite the undeniable interest in virtualization (VMworld counted +14,000 delegates this year) the big analysis firms are pretty confident that this is just the beginning, as only 7% of the market is currently adopting virtualization technologies.

This VMworld clarified that this statement is true not just for potential customers. It’s true for potential vendors as well.
Side by side with historical VMware partners, at least 100 new companies showed up this year.
Built from scratch or fully recommitted to virtualization, from day to night the number of firms that claim a space in the virtualization.info Virtualization Industry Radar is doubled.

This leads to the first consideration: finding the right solution is becoming truly challenging.
In an overcrowded market where each segment has 10-15 competitors, the only choice for the end-users is to rely on solution providers that can select the best products for them. But even them have a hard time to evaluate so many offerings.
Additionally, the number of solutions provider focused on virtualization is growing exponentially as the profit opportunity right now is huge.

Of course in such saturated space there are few chances to have many firms bringing in true innovation.
Most of them are just copying each other with similar feature sets, so the only point of competition is the price.
So in the coming months each vendor is urged to clarify, by a good amount of details, why and how its solution is better or more innovative than the others. Any marketing department failing in this critical task will have few chances to win the prospects.

But where the partners are focusing in details? Everywhere.
It seems that most companies morph their mission statement every quarter, significantly extending or completely replacing their product portfolio immediately after printing the market brochures.

The corporate identity of many firms is suffering as customers can’t keep the pace with who does what, and hearing “we can do that as well” from every vendor is not a reassuring message.

Most of them still see VDI and client-side virtualization as the biggest profit opportunity (maybe because NEC and VMware announced the biggest VDI implementation ever with 12,000 virtual desktops managed by just 3 people):

  • Virtual Computer, the US startup founded by Virtual Iron’s former CTO, announced an enhanced VDI management system, NxTop, that offers large-scale deployment, configuration and patching capabilities (even more than the upcoming VMware View platform previewed on stage at VMworld).
  • Desktone, the US startup focused on hosted VDI that launched in April, and WYSE, one of the leaders in the thin clients arena, announced a joint effort (Desktone dtFlash + WYSE TCX Multimedia) to bring Flash technology on virtual desktops somewhere in the future.
  • RingCube, the US startup that tried to win the consumer market with its MojoPac in the last two years, turned its attention to the enterprise and announced vDesk, an enterprise security wrapper that seems similar to Kidaro Managed Workspaces (acquired by Microsoft in April).
    The new product, available now at $200 per concurrent desktop, can also integrate with VMware Virtual Desktop Manager (VDM).
  • Leostream, one of the oldest virtualization firm focused on VDI, announced a distribution and support agreement with IBM, so that its connection broker will be sold with the BladeCenter HC10 Workstation Blade.

Many of them recognizes in disaster recovery the endless source of profit:

  • Trilead, a brand new European startup based in Switzerland, just entered the virtual machines backup/restore segment and launched the first beta of its VM Explorer.
    The product currently supports VMware hypervisor only, it’s able to do backup/restore to/from a generic Linux/FreeBSD storage server or ESX to ESX copy, and even basic multi-host management.
  • Vizioncore previewed vRanger 4.0, introducing a new service-based architecture and a very interesting API set for 3rd party developers.
  • PlateSpin released its disaster recovery appliance Forge 2.0, now featuring support for SAN arrays and multiple recovery points.

A bunch of bright companies (many coming from the security industry) understood that configuration auditing is going to be one of the biggest need in every fairly-large virtual data center:

  • Configuresoft announced a free of charge Compliance Checker, that verifies the security configuration of any VMware Infrastructure against the VMware Infrastructure 3 Security Hardening Guidelines and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) VMware ESX Server Benchmark.
  • Splunk announced that its system event manager now fully supports VMware Infrastructure 3.5, and that the virtual appliance edition is immediately available free of charge.
  • Tripwire announced that its new configuration auditing solution, Tripwire Enterprise 7.5V, fully supports ESX and VirtualCenter, offering VM sprawl control capabilities and virtual infrastructu

    re objects automated discovery.

  • Sourcefire announced that will leverage the VMsafe APIs in upcoming versions of its intrusion detection system RNA.

Few partners are finally seeing the need for chargeback in virtual infrastructures:

  • Nicus Software, a small US firm exclusively focused on chargeback since 14 years, announced that its product M-PWR now supports VMware VirtualCenter, providing service based pricing, tiered rates, measured resource usage, direct costs and high and low level allocations.
  • Vizioncore announced that its vCharter (now called vFoglight) will offer chargeback capabilities in Q4, including tiered, flat rate, resource utilization and direct cost models.

Just a couple of companies saw the opportunity in virtual data center orchestration, despite the VMware acquisition of Dunes Technologies emptied the segment:

  • Vizioncore announced a brand new product called vAutomation Suite, which offers cross-platform management, a workflow for datacenter automation and a policy-based lifecycle management engine.
  • BMC announced a major agreement with VMware to integrate its Remedy IT Service Management (ITSM) and Atrium Orchestrator (formerly BMC Run Book Automation) with Lifecycle Manager (now called vCenter Lifecycle Manager).

Physical to virtual migration is a segment with still some activity, despite almost every major virtualization vendor is now offering P2V/V2V migration tools for free with their hypervisors:

  • Vizioncore released the fourth version of its vOptimizer, introducing very interesting features like a partial migration (to verify the virtual machine performance before abandoning the physical system) and the continuous migration (a V2V migration technique used for disaster recovery).

Capacity planning comes even before P2V migration, but still few companies are focusing their efforts on this segment:

  • PERFMAN announced that the new 7.2 version of its product now sports a Virtualization Planning Tool, that offers a “what-if” modeling to predict system performance under new workloads and existing workload performance on new hardware.

Until VMsafe APIs come up, security remains a fairly empty space, with most competitors still busy with traditional hardening/detection/clean-up practices inside the guest OSes rather than anything else:

  • McAfee announced that its Total Protection suite will extend its shield to virtual environments in Q4, also scanning offline virtual machine files against viruses.
  • Catbird announced its V-Security 2.0, introducing a compliance enforcer that supports VMotion.

And closing, a least a visionary company already followed VMware in the cloudy sky:

  • Skytap, the US startup focused on hosted virtual lab automation that launched in April, announced its forthcoming support for the VMware vCloud initiative. This means that both companies will work together to standardize their APIs and make possible federated clouds somewhere in the future.
    More concretely, Skytap announced the availability of a web service which allows customers to integrate the hosted VLA service with their local infrastructures.

In the third part, we’ll close this wrap-up analyzing what the VMware competitors announced to counter the overwhelming call to action summoned by this VMworld.