Included in the management announcements made at VMworld Barcelona was the announcement of the EMC Storage Analytics Suite, which was covered in “VMware and Quest Join the Infrastructure Performance Management Party“. The product is interesting, but could this be the start of a management pack strategy for VMware vCenter Operations?

The Microsoft SCOM Management Pack Strategy

One of the greatest strengths of Microsoft SCOM as an enterprise operations management solution is the number and variety of management packs that are offered by third party vendors as plug-ins to SCOM. Quest Software, now part of Dell, offers an extensive library of management packs that allow an  astonishing variety of non-Microsoft systems to be managed by SCOM. Veeam offers a Management Pack that allows  SCOM to monitor VMware vSphere. This means that for a vendor like VMware, competing with SCOM is not just about competing with Microsoft; it also requires finding a competitive answer to the entire ecosystem of vendors that have built management packs for SCOM.

The EMC Storage Analytics Suite

While the EMC Storage Analytics Suite is interesting on the product front due to the increased visibility that it affords into how storage performance is impacting the virtualized environment, it is more interesting in terms of who owns and sells the product.

It is important to note that this is an EMC product, not a VMware product. So now we have the first example of a commercially available plug-in to vCenter Operations Manager that is owned, maintained, marketed and sold by someone besides VMware. So it is fair to say that VMware has a management pack strategy, with one existing example of such a management pack.

A VMware Management Pack Strategy?

If this is the thin edge of the wedge and other vCenter Management Packs are coming in the future, then this will have profound consequences for VMware and the management software industry:

  • Whenever EMC does something, the obvious thing to expect is for NetApp to try to do the same thing, only better. If that happens, and we have storage performance management packs from EMC and NetApp, the rest of the storage industry will follow suit.
  • If just the storage industry gets on board with this concept, then this alone will be a major advancement in the performance management of the infrastructure that supports a virtualized data center.
  • However, outside of storage, opportunities abound. VMware has stated that the strategy for the entire vCloud Suite is to be cross-physical/virtual, cross-virtualization-platforms, and cross-cloud. This is a daunting undertaking for one software vendor to attempt alone. But with the appropriate management packs from complementary software vendors, VMware could create an ecosystem which could collectively challenge not only Microsoft SCOM, but also IBM, HP, BMC ,and CA on the management software front.
  • This would be a profound strategy shift for VMware – a company not known for cooperating at a sales and marketing level with other software vendors. It would likely also transform the startup ecosystem around VMware, as it would create numerous opportunities for smaller companies to add value to what would then be VMware’s management platform.

Summary

VMware wants to be an enterprise management software vendor with vCenter Operations and the other components of the vCloud Suite. As impressive as VMware is, going it alone against Microsoft, IBM, HP, and CA on the management software front is not a strategy destined for success. However, if VMware can borrow a page from Microsoft and build a cooperative ecosystem of vendor partners, then that ecosystem could collectively present a new and viable option in the enterprise management business.

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Bernd Harzog (323 Posts)

Bernd Harzog is the Analyst at The Virtualization Practice for Performance and Capacity Management and IT as a Service (Private Cloud).

Bernd is also the CEO and founder of APM Experts a company that provides strategic marketing services to vendors in the virtualization performance management, and application performance management markets.

Prior to these two companies, Bernd was the CEO of RTO Software, the VP Products at Netuitive, a General Manager at Xcellenet, and Research Director for Systems Software at Gartner Group. Bernd has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Chicago.

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