Amazon’s Service Level Agreement (SLA) is so narrowly-drawn that it could easily be argued that the recent Elastic Block Store (EBS) outage wasn’t a failure of Amazon Web Services at all. Anyone using EBS in a production environment was, arguably, reaping the fruits of their own folly. Of course they don’t tell you when you read the hype that architecting for resilience in the Cloud is actually very complicated, particularly if you want to take the sensible step of not relying on a single provider like Amazon, no-matter how dominant their hype may be.
Given that vSphere provides significant benefits in terms of cost savings and business agility, those benefits are tied to and constrained by the ability of vSphere to provide backward compatibility with existing legacy enterprise systems. This backward compatibility makes it impossible for vSphere to provide infinite horizontal scalability. Moving to the same architecture as the most highly scaled out public cloud vendors provides for a more radical set of benefits, but at the cost of breaking backward compatibility for many applications.
Implementing IT as a Service requires a virtualization platform, and virtualization aware configuration and change management, secure multi-tenancy, provisioning and lifecycle management, orchestration and automation, and service catalog. These capabilities are available from VMware, DynamicOps, Embotics, Eucaplyptus, ManageIQ, newScale, Quest, rPath and Reflex Systems.
The question of whether and how to replace DRS is really a part of the question of what is in the virtualization platform and what is not. Clearly the virtualization platform consists of much more than the hypervisor. VMware would like to define the virtualization platform as all of vSphere Enterprise Plus, and then suggest that vCloud Director and its own performance management solutions are logical extensions of that platform. Enterprises need to be careful about where they draw their own lines in this regard. As VMware is a clear market leader both in terms of product functionality and enterprise installations, VMware needs to be given full credit for the quality of vSphere and its success. However full credit does not need to imply that one is 100% locked in to VMware solution as there is room to pursue third party IT as a Service, Performance Management, and Service Assurance strategies as well as replace/augment components in vSphere.
vCloud Director is a good start at an IT as a Service platform for enterprises looking for a VMware specific solution that does not integrate with existing physical or non-VMware provisioning mechanisms. Enterprises looking for IT as a Service solutions that span multiple virtualization platforms and that span provisioning across virtual and physical resources should look at alternatives from Platform Computing DynamicOps, newScale, Embotics, Euclyptus, ManageIQ and rPath as these vendors all offer heterogeneous enterprise class IT as a Service platforms.
newScale, rPath and Eucalyptus have partnered to provide an elastic infrastructure (Eucalyptus), automated software deployment and management (rPath), and a service catalog (newScale). This provides an interesting alternative to the monolithic stack offered by VMware with vSphere and vCloud Director.