If you haven't been following the stream from this week's VMworld, maybe you should be.
Sure, it's a really big industry show: lots of attendees and lots of vendors. But many of the announcements I believe subtly shift the landscape for just about every service provider out there.
I'm still digesting it all -- so please consider this preliminary at best ...
In a nutshell, Paul Maritz took the stage and basically told the enterprise IT world that VMware was going to change IT in three fundamental ways:
- cloudifying infrastructure (vSphere and the ecosystem that comes with it),
- cloudifying the application development platform (the new vFabric based on Springsource)
- and cloudifying the user experience (VMware View and -- soon -- Project Horizon)
He then once again re-iterated the importance of service providers in this world view -- to provide compatible infrastructure and the various services built upon it.
It's a grand and compelling vision. Transform IT organizations into internal service providers -- and, in the process -- make it far easier for them to consume external services of all varieties. A unique win-win scenario for the industry.
It's understandable if you're a bit skeptical -- I mean, how many times have we heard grand IT visions that could change everything?
Yes, I'm far too close to this all (sampling bias pervades), but -- frankly -- I don't see any competitor slowing VMware down anytime soon. Their track record up to this point speaks for itself, and their velocity appears to be increasing dramatically.
Organizations large and small are implementing VMware's vision just as fast as they humanly can.
What This Might Mean For Service Providers
As a result of these announcements, several new opportunities now join the plethora of VMware-related opportunities already being evaluated and executed on by many service providers. I'll do my best to highlight examples here.
One logical starting point is the new VMware vCloud Director.
If you're an enterprise IT type, this is a straightforward platform to start implementing private clouds and IT-as-a-service. As enterprise IT types get more comfortable with this approach, they'll also get inevitably get more comfortable with having these resources be provided externally rather than internally.
Before long, it's reasonable to assume that VMware vCloud Director becomes a significant de-facto standard for any service provider offering IaaS, or -- potentially -- higher level services that might use infrastructure to be controlled by the subscriber.
Service providers who have invested in their own orchestration, provisioning and user-facing infrastructure portals will have to seriously evaluate whether or not to continue to invest in their direction, or begin to build on the new capabilities and APIs being provided by VMware.
The EMC angle on this is pretty easy to figure out: not only will you see it well supported on Vblocks, but we're complementing the back-end with a new version of UIM targeted at infrastructure owners who want to offer up "virtual data center" constructs for their subscribers.
Another compelling components came with the VMware vFabric announcement.
No, it's not some sort of new network -- it's a next-gen open source development environment for creating cloud-ready and cloud-agnostic applications.
Larger IT organizations usually spend big buckets of money on two things: applications -- and infrastructure to run them on. Up to now, most of the interest in VMware (through vSphere) has been in attacking the infrastructure spend. By comparison, vFabric is a clear play for organizations that invest in developing their own applications.
Two potential plays here for service providers: providing an extended development environment for internal developers (typically underserved by traditional IT), and additionally providing value-added execution environments for the enterprise-class applications that are now starting to be developed in this environment.
Incredibly strong interest is starting to form from larger enterprises that have hundreds of internal developers. They're looking for a platform to build their next generation of unique applications for the business, and Springsource is turning out to be one of the stronger contenders.
And, to round things out, there was an interesting peek at VMware's ultimate play for the next generation of desktop and collaboration.
In addition to pragmatic enhancements in VMware's View environment and related technologies, there was an interesting discussion around Project Horizon. I did a full treatment on my other blog here.
Infrastructure as a service. Application platform as a service. User experience as a service. All from a vendor who shows every sign of up-ending the pecking order in IT as we've always understood it.
Certainly, there are a few new things to go consider :-)
EMC Had A Few Things To Say As Well ...
For me, the biggest EMC news at VMworld was the announcement of the RSA Solution For Cloud Security and Compliance.
We've shown it to several rather sophisticated IT shops. They think it changes the game, and shifted their perspective of using external services for more critical applications.
Why? It's better than what they've got today :-)
We've also shown it to a few service provider partners, and the general reaction is two-fold: great stand-alone service in the booming "security as a service" marketplace, and a great differentiator for just about everything else they offer to their clients and customers.
Rounding out the EMC offering was a beta of UIM (EMC's Unified Infrastructure Manager) working with the new VMware offerings on a Vblock, providing an end-to-end IT-as-a-service capability that's probably far better than most of the roll-your-own stuff I've seen out there in service provider land.
Think of it as a platform to build your own unique differentiation, rather than re-inventing the wheel :-)
EMC was also promoting the fact that FAST (fully automated storage tiering) was changing the economics and performance of storage as we know it today. And, of course, a cool technology preview of VPLEX Geo doing long-distance workload mobility -- non-disruptively, of course.
A lot to go think about.
The Bottom Line?
Sorry, I can't make any far-reaching pronouncements around what all of this might ultimately mean just yet for service providers.
I am continually struck, however, on the sheer elegance of the overall plan: driving traditional enterprise customers towards an internal strategy that makes them more proficient consumers of external IT services.
And just about every service provider has to appreciate that :-)