Quest + Vizioncore + Surgient = A Virtualization Management Gorilla?

The acquisition of Surgient plus the imminent folding of Vizioncore into Quest itself (as opposed to Vizioncore being an “independent subsidiary”) puts Quest fully into the Virtualization Management fray. So we will shortly see the Surgient Private Cloud Management assets combined with the full Foglight Performance Management assets and the rest of the Vizioncore product suite into what will probably be the single most formidable third party virtualization management offering.

Lets tally up the assets that the new combined entity will bring to the table. First lets look at what an integrated Quest and Vizioncore consists of:

  • Vizioncore is the independent virtualization management vendor with the most number of actual customers using its products – reportedly over 25,000 at this point.
  • Vizioncore is one of the market leaders (along with Veeam) in the Virtualization Backup market
  • Vizioncore has been successfully marketing a subset of Quest Foglight (vFoglight) into the VMware monitoring space for several years. vFoglight probably has one of the market leading positions in terms of installed base for VMware focused resource and availability monitoring tools.
  • Vizioncore offers a free subset of vFoglight (vFoglight QuickView) for organizations with less than 250 VM’s. This will see the market for the vFoglight technology, and provide Vizioncore downstream up sell opportunities.
  • Quest is a market leader in the applications performance management market. The full Quest Foglight product suite stands up to and is superior in some respects to offerings from IBM, CA, BMC, and CompuWare. The full Foglight offering has not been tuned yet for the virtualization market, but the subset of the Foglight product (vFoglight) that Vizioncore markets has been.
  • Quest offers a free set of management extensions for VMware that pass vSphere data up into Microsoft SCOM. This directly competes with the Veem nWorks product set.
  • Quest also owns a desktop virtualization management stack (acquired when Quest bought Provision Networks) that is one of the leading independent connection brokers and management stacks for virtualized desktops. This gives Quest a footprint at both the server and desktop virtualization management layers.

Now lets look at what Surgient adds to the mix. Surgient is an extremely robust and complete suite of management software that covers all aspects of automating and managing service delivery in a dynamic data center, including the ability to provide a full self-service environment to business constituents with guaranteed time slot based resource reservations. Surgient was also very early in the virtualization game and has been around long enough to accumulate 60 large scale production customers who have been running the Surgient software in production long enough for the Surgient platform to have fully matured.

The Surgient Private Cloud Platform

Surgient Private Cloud Platform

Benefits of Quest + Vizioncore + Surgient

  1. When virtualizing business critical applications, it is essential to combine the benefits of dynamic data centers and self service environments with iron clad performance (response time) guarantees for these applications. This is impossible to do today, as there is no integrated solution from any vendor that can measure the response time of an application on a continuous and passive basis, and then adjust resource allocations in the dynamic infrastructure in order to assure the performance of the application. Quest now has all of the building blocks required to accomplish this, and is the first vendor to assemble the necessary pieces. For example Foglight could be used to measure the actual response time of the application, and the Surgient platform could take service level degradations as input to make VM to host allocation decisions.
  2. Foglight continues to improve in terms of its capacity planning features. Foglight could be combined with vOptimizer to actually improve the capacity of a storage system and prevent the purchase of unnecessary additional storage resources.
  3. Of course Quest will pursue a virtualization platform agnostic strategy. Expect Quest to support Hyper-V and Citrix Xen in addition to the current support for VMware vSphere.
  4. Integrating vRanger with the above management suite will allow for a consistent data protection strategy across multiple virtualization platforms and even eventually across public and private clouds.

In summary, Quest now has the assets to be broad line Virtualization Management vendor, with the bonus of having first class virtualization aware Applications Performance Management assets to bring to the table as well.

Challenges for Quest

Having these assets and being able to effectively market and sell them into the virtualization market are two different things. The first challenge for Quest is to actually integrate these new offerings into a suite that that delivers the combined functionality in an effective manner. Right now Quest also has three different marketing and sales efforts. Vizioncore has proven to be very effective selling virtualization management tools through the VMware VAR channel to VMware customers. Surgient (like all startups) has a relatively small sales team that primarily focuses upon selling its private cloud management software directly to large customers and service providers. Quest has a large sales force which is quite effective selling a broad range of systems management tools and applications performance management tools directly to large customers. This same sales force also sells the Quest virtual desktop solutions that were previously acquired from Provision Networks.

The challenge for Quest is to find a way to combine the strengths of all of these product assets, market positions and sales approaches while simultaneously boosting the success of the Surgient solution, the Vizioncore solutions and the traditional management software products.

Quest also need to decide where it is going to position itself in the virtualization performance monitoring stack. Vendors like Akorri, Xangati, Virtual Instruments, and CA (by leveraging the NetQos acquisition) have staked an early claim to the infrastructure performance management space. Quest’s assets lie below IPM in the area of monitoring resource utilization and availability of the infrastructure, and above IPM in the area of monitoring the performance of the applications. No vendor effectively participates in all three layers of the performance monitoring stack – and Quest must decide if it wants to be the first.

What Does This Mean for Enterprise Customers?

Now that enterprise customers are moving beyond virtualizing low hanging fruit and into virtualizing performance critical tier 1 business applications the software stack and the management processes needed to address this use case with virtualization need to radically evolve.

The first big change is that the entire ROI from a virtualization project may have to be calculated differently in these cases. This is explained in The ROI for Server Virtualization with Business Critical Applications. It turns out that the agility from new and more consistently applied management processes may be what drives the success of these projects, not a hard dollar ROI from server and core consolidation.

In Virtualizing Business Critical Applications – A Reference Architecture, we describe the suite of management solutions that need to be deployed around the virtualization platform. With the acquisition of Surgient and the consolidation of Vizioncore into Quest, Quest has all of the assets that one needs to construct a virtualization management suite. Of course, this integration has to be accomplished which is in and of itself no mean feat. How Quest and other virtualization management vendors stack up is covered in Who’s Who in Virtualization Management.

Once the virtualization environment scales out in size and scales up in complexity and importance to address business critical applications, it can no longer be managed by teams of VMware admins who script their way around the management and automation problems. A formal set of management solutions will be required and these solutions will most likely come from vendors other than the vendors of the virtualization platforms. The reason for this is simple – most platform vendors need to focus all of their energies upon producing and marketing their platform, and managing these platforms in production in conjunction with everything else that the customer already has is usually a bridge too far for the platform vendor.

For all of these reasons, enterprise customers should now start to plan how they will deploy third party solutions to take the management of their virtualization environments to the next level. As Quest formalizes and consolidates its management offerings into a cohesive suite, Quest will emerge as once of the strongest contenders in this area.

The Quest press release is below for reference:

Quest Software Catapults into Private Cloud Automation Market with Acquisition of Surgient

Leading Solution for Cloud Automation will Become Part of Quest Solutions for Desktop and Server Virtualization Management

ALISO VIEJO, Calif., Jul 29, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Quest Software, Inc.  today announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Surgient, Inc., a provider of private cloud automation software. The Austin, Texas-based company’s Surgient Platform enables organizations to deploy and manage secure cloud infrastructures to gain business agility and reduce costs. With the Surgient Automation Platform, organizations can create robust and secure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds that may be shared across the organization. The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close during the third quarter of 2010.

“Quest has a proven track record of acquiring companies with exceptional technologies that eliminate barriers to entry for organizations,” said Doug Garn, CEO and president of Quest Software. “Since 2003, Surgient has developed an impressive array of patented technologies and products, developed by some of the brightest people in the industry. When the acquisition is complete, our customers will have the platform they need to not only quickly implement private cloud infrastructures, but also support them effectively with the best management solutions in the industry.”

Private cloud computing is emerging as a fundamental requirement for businesses. According to a recent IDC survey, 73 percent of all organizations are evaluating, planning or have already implemented private cloud strategies(1). As a leading provider of cloud automation solutions, Surgient provides a patented and proven technology that supports heterogeneous hypervisor environments and diverse customer environments including mid-market, enterprise and managed service providers. Surgient has more than 60 customers with 160 successful deployments.

“Demand for workload and server automation tools is growing rapidly and will top $1 billion by 2014,” said Mary Johnston Turner, IDC research director for Enterprise Systems Management. “Increased use of virtualization and plans for private cloud data centers are creating the need for dynamic workload migration and system provisioning solutions that can react to real time application and business service performance requirements. The combination of Quest’s Foglight, Vizioncore, and Surgient technologies will offer customers a number of key private cloud data center management building blocks.”

As the largest independent software vendor in virtualization management solutions, with more than 20,000 customers, Quest seeks to enrich its customers’ virtualization and cloud implementations with data protection, monitoring, administration, and desktop virtualization solutions to reduce administration costs, and make more efficient use of virtualized computing resources. The acquisition of cloud automation provider Surgient, will uniquely position Quest to deliver products and services that add value for customers by enabling rapid, affordable deployment of private clouds, thus allowing customers to fully leverage their investments in virtualization without the risk.

(1)IDC, Worldwide Enterprise Server Cloud Computing 2010-2014 Forecast, Doc.# 223118, Apr 2010.

SOURCE: Quest Software, Inc.