VMware and EMC today announced that the two companies have entered into a definitive agreement for VMware to acquire certain software products and expertise from EMC’s Ionix IT management business, including solutions aimed at delivering improved management and deployment of servers and applications in a virtualized data center.

Under the terms of the agreement, VMware will acquire all technology and intellectual property of FastScale, Application Discovery Manager, Server Configuration Manager and Service Manager and will maintain engineering, marketing, sales and support operations in the United States, Europe, Israel, India and Australia. As part of the agreement, EMC will retain the Ionix brand and have full reseller rights to continue to offer customers the products acquired by VMware.

The acquired EMC products and expertise will complement existing VMware development efforts and expand the VMware vCenter product family with capabilities to meet stringent compliance standards in a dynamic virtualized environment. This new capability will provide a holistic view of configuration compliance of complete IT services from underlying physical assets to applications. VMware plans to further optimize the acquired products for dynamic, VMware vSphere-based cloud infrastructure, to deliver unparalleled visibility, control and simplicity of enterprise IT management.

Read the complete press release.

The Analysis

This is a massive win for VMware. The prospect that VMware’s parent, EMC was going to through its management subsidiary build and market a competing virtualization management stack was creating nothing but confusion and consternation for the VMware community. Acquiring these assets from EMC Ionix not only removes EMC Ionix as a source of massively confusing competition with customers and channel partners, it also removes a great source of potential conflict in the senior management ranks at EMC. Finally, this greatly bolsters VMware’s chances of actually delivering a robust management stack for its vSphere virtualization platform as these are some extremely capable and differentiating assets that have now been added to the VMware fold. In particular the recent ConfigureSoft and FastScale acquisitions that EMC/Ionix did, are now part of the VMware portfolio, as is the N-Layers discovery technology.

VMware certainly now has most of the pieces that it needs to not only assemble a complete management stack, but also one that contains some very significant differentiation. The FastScale technology alone is enough to significantly reduce deployment times for new guests as well as to significantly boost guest density on a host (due to the Just Enough OS technology). FastScale alone is enough to significantly differentiate the VMware virtualization platform by building upon the existing memory management advantages of vSphere (page sharing and overcommit).

This move also now severely compresses the time frame for the third party management ecosystem. Integrating these disparate pieces into a coherent set of synergistic offerings will take some time. Let’s assume that it takes until VMworld 2011. That gives Microsoft Hyper-V 19 months to get serious traction in the global enterprises and gives all of the third party management vendors those same 19 months to build a cross-platform virtualization management business.

Let’s take the various components of virtualization management and break them down by how they are affected by this annoucement:

  1. Virtualization Security – unaffected except to the extent that there is some overlap between security and configuration management, and we can be sure that a robust configuration management offering will come out of the combination of ConfigureSoft and the previously announced ConfigControl efforts.
  2. Self Service Provisioning and Resource Allocation – Vendors like Dynamic Ops, Platform Compting,  and Surgient who have a robust self-service provisioning infrastructure, along with (in the case of Platform and Surgient) a resource reservation system are still flying above the fray. There is nothing in this set of technologies that directly threatens this set of vendors.
  3. Virtualization Management vendors like Hyper9, Embotics, ManageIQ, Reflex Systems, VizionCore (vControl), and Veeam (Reporter) are going to have to take this next year to ensure that they retain their differentiation with respect to VMware once this new stack ships. All of these companies have significant differentiation with respect to VMware’s management offerings today, but they are also running in front of the VMware snowplow.
  4. The Infrastructure Performance Management leaders (Akorri, NetQos/CA, and Virtual Instruments) will be largely unaffected by these moves. None of the acquired technologies moves VMware any closer to having a robust understanding of Infrastructure Response Time which is the differentiating metric for all of these vendors.
  5. Resource and Availability Monitoring vendors have some differentiation today, but will face increasing pressure as these newly acquired assets are merged with the Hyperic assets that came with the SpringSource acquisition.
  6. The Applications Performance Management sector (BlueStripe, New Relic, Optier, and OPNET) is completely unaffected by this move as these products target applications teams, whereas the acquired assets are all about a management stack for IT Operations.
  7. The performance management of virtualized desktops is also unaffected by this move. Vendors like LiquidWare Labs, Xangati, and Lakeside Software will not be affected by the products resulting from this move, although they may find themselves competing with pieces of the technology that VMware acquired from RTO Software earlier this week.

Summary

As Chad Sakac says in his blog, this is about VMware focusing its management effort on the server layer on up, and on EMC focusing their management efforts on the UCS, the network and the storage on down. As a divide and conquer strategy that focuses both companies upon their core competencies and complementary strategic goals this is a huge win for both VMware and EMC. It also clearly shows how serious VMware is at becoming a vendor of their own management stack – but that has certainly been public knowledge since at least VMworld 2009.

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Bernd Harzog (328 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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