Lots of great news starting to come out of VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas.
Metaphorically speaking, though, a hurricance isn't a bad analogy for describing the impact of this important event.
The scope of VMworld has expanded far beyond the initial boundaries of server virtualization and pulled in all sorts of adjacent disciplines: cloud, IT transformation, application transformation, next-gen user experience as well as all sorts of related technologies: servers, storage, security, backup, orchestration and management ... it's perhaps the most compelling cross-section of advanced IT thinking in the industry.
And one of the first blockbluster announcements from VMware concerns signficant and meaningful progress towards establishing a marketplace of compatible service providers, based around VMware technologies.
Choices Are Good, Aren't They?
Enterprise hybrid clouds are all about choice -- having flexible options down the road.
One key choice is getting to decide what runs in your own environment, and what runs in a service provider setting. This isn't your father's outsourcing, it's a world where you can go into (and out of!) an external provider with far less friction than before.
Embrace virtualization, and you'll have far more many of these choices than if you don't.
Going farther, it''d be better if those same external service providers offered infrastructure and operational control mechanisms that were similar to the ones you used internally.
That's part of the motivation behind VCE and Vblocks -- giving customers flexible consumption options for standardized infrastructure: buy, rent or any combination that suits you.
When you deconstruct the recent announcement from VMware, you'll find a lot to like in support of this model:
- "Global Connect" -- a ready pool of compatible service providers that are ostensibly using the exact same technology and operational model for key parts of the upper-level orchestration stack. VMware says they'll certify these service providers going forward -- something I'll be looking forward to getting more details on as they become available.
- A new version of the VMware Cloud Connector (1.5) that does reliable data transfer to and from an external service provider. EMC is doing a lot of work with VPLEX around this environment to turbocharge this essential capability -- no specific announcements today, but plenty of cool demos at the show :)
- SP partner announcements around a key use case (remote recovery) using VMware's Site Recovery Manager (SRM) in conjunction with these other technologies.
- A new customer portal to learn about these compatible service providers: who they are and what they do (vcloud.vmware.com -- not up yet as of this writing)
I'm sure we'll see many more signing up to the program before too long.
The Win For Customers -- And Service Providers
Cloud -- at its essence -- is an industry transition to an IT-as-a-service model. IT organizations deliver an attractive and competitive portfolio of IT services to their organizations, regardless of whether the service is sourced internally or externally.
If we step outside of IT for a moment, you'll see most of today's economy organized around vast marketplaces of service producers and service consumers -- with many, many attractive choices for the consumer.
Open competition is the norm: there are few barriers to entry or exit -- both for the providers and their consumers. Service providers have to be on their game and provide something of unique value, otherwise they get quickly commoditized. Customers (service consumers) benefit greatly by the increased competition.
What we're seeing here is the emergence of a familiar concept in a new domain -- an open marketplace of compatible service providers, each openly competing for business using similar technologies and operational models.
Compare this model against the more familiar uber-cloud model from Amazon and others: a single set of services, a single consumption model, high costs associated with exit, etc.
By comparison, I think VMware's model is going to win in the long term for a simple reason: the bigger the compatible marketplace, the more attractive it becomes for all players.
Darwinian capitalism at work :)