Yesterday VMware acquired several products from EMC’s Ionix management portfolio: Server Configuration Manager (formerly Configuresoft), FastScale, Application Discovery Manager (formerly nLayers), and Service Manager (formerly Infra). In my opinion, the move makes sense because the products will get considerably more traction under the VMware brand than as part of the EMC Ionix umbrella. VMware has successfully launched several new management products resulting from acquisition or internal development - Lab Manager, Lifecycle Manager, CapacityIQ, and Site Recovery Manager – to name a few. I expect similar success for the products that were under the Configuresoft and Fastscale brands as well (prior to their acquisition by EMC).
While a broad management portfolio is needed, seamless integration is far more important to our clients’ cloud initiatives (with a heavy reliance on automation) than a platform consisting of several required but disjointed products. I recently discussed these concerns in greater detail in these posts:
- The Cloud Mystery Machine: The Need for an Infrastructure Authority
- VMworld Day 1 Keynote – A Few Thoughts
That brings me to VMware. The process of collecting “functionality checkboxes” is a longstanding strategy taken by leading management vendors. Rather than integrate, vendors too often rely on product marketing. I think this picture from oddlyspecific.com captures the essence of enterprise management product marketing pretty well.
Let’s face it. It’s far easier (and less costly) to tell an integration story via creative product marketing than it is to actually commit the engineering resources to build a truly integrated solution. In other words, let’s take a management platform built to solve a specific problem years or decades ago, and bolt on some other products to make it relevant to today’s management challenges. The big four in management (i.e., BMC, CA, HP, and IBM) have historically taken this approach, and one could say that VMware is doing the same. In addition, one could argue that CA's 3Tera acquisition is another "sign of the times."
When vCenter and its backend database were originally architected, enterprise cloud management wasn’t the goal. VMware has already commented on its work regarding a Linux-based vCenter VM appliance. I see the movement to the vCenter VM appliance as VMware’s chance to get vCenter right, with the extensibility needed to grow the vCenter schema as cloud management requirements further mature.
Over the last couple of years, VMware has worked to transition itself into a management company. I blogged about this transition at VMworld 2007 and my Gartner colleague Cameron Haight also discussed this trend in his 2007 document “Why VMware Must Morph into a Management Company.” If that transition follows historical patterns, VMware’s clients should worry. Automation and infrastructure-as-a-service are far too complex to be solved by legacy bolt-on management approaches. The existing disconnect between VMware’s DRS service and other management products or features such as vShield Zones and CapacityIQ are just two examples, but there are plenty more. VMware’s problem, like many, is not that the left arm doesn’t know what the right arm is doing. If the arms were attached to the same body, that would be a good start. Instead, we have a bunch of individual cooks, all with their hands in the virtual infrastructure pot. VMware made a good move yesterday to broaden it’s management portfolio; however, they have a lot of work to do. Cloud and infrastructure-as-a-service are highly disruptive to traditional IT operational management, and in turn creates opportunities for new vendors to unseat the big four in the enterprise management space. Following a path that leads to legacy bolt-on style disjointed enterprise management isn’t going to cut it. That being said, I know that VMware is smarter than that, and let's hope their clients won’t be led down a path with a familiar ending.