VMware has had a great 2011. Product execution was excellent on all fronts except for VMware View where there are also larger strategy issues afoot. VMware is and likely will remain next year not only the most important, but the best system software vendor on the planet. We can only look forward to continued progress with vSphere, the management offerings, and the applications platform offerings.
VMware has articulated and is starting to deliver on a compelling strategy of Automated Operations for its virtualization and cloud platforms. This will precipitate profound changes in the vendor ecosystem as third party vendors partner up and acquire in order to come up with the same depth of functionality that VMware is offering, but on a broader set of platforms (Quest buying VKernel is just the start of this process).
One of the biggest things I took away from the VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas was the all advancements within the storage part of virtualization. For me, this was the year for storage. One product that really got my attention was the new NAS appliance, VMstore from Tintri. This 3U appliance, well 5U if you count the UPC, is a single datastore with 8.5TB of usable storage. This appliance was a collaboration of some very smart individuals from different companies like VMware, Datadomain, NetApp and Sun. They put their minds together and built this NFS appliance from the ground up with specially engineered file system to work with virtualization. What makes this VM-aware appliance different from other typical storage designs is VMstore uses VM’s and virtual disks as the abstractions instead of the conventional storage abstractions, volumes, LUN’s and files that we have all been accustomed to. Each I/O request will map directly to a virtual disk all while VMstore monitors, controls the I/O and presents disk performance statistics per VM or per VMDK.
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Confio IgniteVM uniquely provides a consolidated view of resource utilization and latency across database servers like Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, and Sybase and the virtual machine layer, the physical host layer and the storage layer. This provides a valuable performance management perspective to DBA’s as well as to the virtualization team that often is held responsible for performance issues in database based applications.
There are many enhancements and new features that are part of VMware vSphere V5.0 from a storage and I/O perspective (See VMware vSphere v5 and Storage DRS posts). One of those enhancements is a new Application Programming Interface (API) called VASA (vSphere Aware Storage API) which joins other VMware vSphere APIs some of which are shown in table 1. Note that there is a three letter acronym (TLA) shown in table 1 that is part of the VMware vSphere 5.0 release that can be confused with VASA called VSA (VMware Storage Appliance) however for now, let’s leave VSA for a future discussion.
If automated IT Operations is going to succeed and deliver its promised benefits then IT Operations is going to have to get reorganized – with supporting hardware teams part of the virtualization team. Furthermore Application Operations will have to be instantiated as a function that is responsible for the actual service level delivered by the applications to their constituents.
Storage analysts, Evaluator Group have announced a new storage specific benchmark for VDI that takes an interesting and innovative approach to the inherent complexity of attempting to benchmark the storage infrastructure needed to support VDI workloads.
Business Agility ...
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VMware deserves an enormous amount of credit for promising to reinvent IT Operations around automation and the guaranteed performance of applications. VMware either has or is working on all of the building blocks required to execute upon this vision for the vSphere platform. The combination of innovation by VMware, and by the third party ecosystem on this front will create a new compelling benefit to virtualization, that will allow virtualization to comfortably address business critical and performance critical applications.
If there was one thing I saw and heard about at VMworld, was the number of third party collaborations that were taking place. While not explicitly stated by VMware at VMworld, the show floor had many different collaborations that were taking place. This level of collaboration shows a level of maturity within the virtualization and cloud vendor ecosystems. A maturity, that shows that the vendors understand the benefits of leveraging other companies to lower their overall costs while producing better and more attractive products. Some of the collaborations I saw where purely the resale of products, while others were integrations between products.