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Bittman (Gartner) on VDC Infrastructure Management

Tom Bittman of Gartner has recently started blogging on cloud computing and virtualization. In a post made after the opening gun at VMworld 2008, he comments on two strategic shifts evident in the VMware story: infrastructure management (which he characterizes as throwing down the gauntlet with IBM, HP and MSFT) and cloud computing.

What interested me in the post are some of the presuppositions and his conclusions:
(a) it's inevitable that the datacenter becomes a virtualized
(b) in becoming virtualized, the virtual machine environment (in this case VDC OS) becomes the natural locus of end-to-end datacenter infrastructure management
(c) by adding service governance to the mix, one has a management system that competes directly with adaptive, utility computing management strategies promoted by IBM, HP and Microsoft

While this analysis of VMware's strategy makes sense on its face, it also seems to couch the competition in terms of failed or stalled initiatives at (some of) the competitors.  Bittman alludes to this in his commentary.  For some reason, when thinking about datacenter operation, administration and management, I would have been more likely to set the competition as being between VMware (and its hoped-for coterie of infrastructure management partners) and the Big 4 (and Little 4) systems management providers. 

The point worth noting: we need a more thorough discussion and definition of datacenter service governance (to use Gartner's terminology).  This becomes critical, for example, when considering the discussion of VMware and virtsec and even more so when reading Hoff's consideration of network issues in the virtualized datacenter.  Then, we'll be able to have a better conversation about how systems management in the datacenter actually comes to pass, and how VMware will compete with the Bigs.

VMware Strategy Reaches for the Clouds

VMware includes in their concept what Gartner calls a service governor, which adds policy-based management on top of a meta OS. Combined, these two create what Gartner calls a real-time infrastructure. The service governor is the real challenge for VMware, which is one reason they haven’t called it out.

What is interesting is that VMware is finally describing a larger strategy that is completely competitive with IBM (remember the On Demand Operating Environment?), HP (Adaptive Infrastructure) and Microsoft (Dynamic IT). The strategy is credible, but there are many, many gaps that need to be filled. In particular, while VMware is strong in virtualization, they are very weak in service management. Regardless, it will be difficult for IBM and HP to miss the competitive threat (which, of course, they should have seen starting in 2001). This is the only natural evolution for VMware, but the road is littered with challenges.

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