VMware’s Heterogeneous Virtualization Management Strategy

For quite a number of years, VMware has made it very clear that it views virtualization not only as a technology that provides significant benefits to data centers, but also a technology that disrupts the existing virtualization management solutions, and opens an opportunity for new management solutions to be offered and adopted by enterprises. VMware has also made it clear that it intends to capitalize upon this opportunity by fielding a family of strong products in the Virtualization Management area.

To this end VMware has fielded an impressive array of products. vCenter Operations for operations, performance, capacity and configuration management of the infrastructure, Site Recovery Manager for disaster recovery, the vShield product family for security, vCloud Director for cloud provisioning and management, vFabric Application Director for application provisioning, and vFabric APM for application performance management have all been rolled out over the last few years and are all being continuously enhanced. However, up until very recently the knock on all of these products is that they were unique to vSphere, putting customers with more than one hypervisor in the difficult spot of either building a unique management stack for each hypervisor, or completely ignoring VMware’s offerings.

The New Heterogeneous Virtualization Management Strategy

With the acquisition of DynamicOps, VMware broke the single platform mold. In fact DynamicOps not only supports all of VMware’s major competitors at the hypervisor level, it also manages clouds on EC2, and can provision clouds on physical hardware. At the time we speculated that perhaps this would be log that broke the logjam and that henceforth VMware would be adopting and rolling out heterogeneous support in some or all of its other management solutions.

Indeed it seems that this will be the case, per the statement below regarding what VMware will be showing at VMworld 2012. Notice that vCenter Operations, and the vFabric Application Management product line are specifically mentioned as being part of the “new heterogeneous strategy”. No word yet on vShield and SRM – we are just going to have to wait for the VMworld details to find out about intentions on these fronts.

“VMware will be showcasing tech previews of our new management suites, including DynamicOps, vCenter Operations and vFabric Application Management. More specifically, we’ll be showing the provisioning and management of IT services across heterogeneous environments – VMware-based private/public clouds, physical infrastructures, multiple hypervisors and AWS.”

Implications for VMware Customers

For VMware customers this has to be viewed as nothing but good news. Many VMware customers are already using Hyper-V for some of the low hanging fruit that was virtualized three years ago in order to free up vSphere licenses for virtualization of business critical and performance critical applications. Adoption of Amazon EC2 is widespread, especially among development, test, and business unit organizations that value the rapid provisioning of transient services on a cost effective basis. Having VMware offer management solutions that support these disparate environments adds an important choice to the set of existing vendors who were already heterogeneous in their product strategies.

Implications for the Big 4 (IBM, CA, BMC, HP)

When VMware talks about using virtualization to disrupt the existing management business, it is the businesses of IBM, CA, BMC and HP that VMware intends to disrupt. VMware knows that existing solutions are expensive to buy, expensive to own, time consuming to implement, and difficult to change – all attributes of the incumbent legacy vendors that make the vulnerable to disruption by a new large management vendor like VMware. It is clear that the process of replacing these legacy solutions is well underway, as in most virtualization management evaluation, the legacy vendors are not even on the short list or present at the table.

Implications for the Virtualization Management Ecosystem

The start ups in the virtualization management ecosystem all started seeing requirements for heterogeneity two years ago, and the vast majority of the ecosystem has now at the minimum added support for Hyper-V to their offerings with many vendors supporting multiple platforms. Operations focused vendors like Cirba,  Hotlink, ManagEngine, PHD Virtual, SolarWinds, Splunk, VKernel, VMTurbo, Xangati, and Zenoss have all had cross-platform support either from the inception of their offerings or have added it in the last year.

APM solutions like AppDynamics, AppFirst, Aternity, BlueStripe, Boundary, Confio Software, Correlsense, dynaTrace, ExtraHop Networks, Netuitive, New Relic, and Prelert have always been focused more upon the applications than the virtualization platform and have therefore never had dependencies upon a particular virtualization platform.  On the data protection front, Veeam added support for other platforms quite some time ago.

The more important implication for the ecoystem is that it the bar is being raised by VMware. Supporting multiple virtualization platforms is no longer a differentiating feature. Vendors in the ecosystem are now going to have to demonstrate that they can solve problems in multiple environments that VMware cannot – which is going to lead to a dramatic increase in the level of competitive intensity in the virtualization management market.


Acquiring DynamicOps has kick-started VMware into a heterogeneous virtualization management strategy. This will be demonstrated in detail at VMworld this Fall. We now face a dramatically different virtualization landscape. The focus has now shifted to management – of business critical applications running on multiple virtualization platforms and potentially distributed across internal data centers and public clouds.

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