ESG Recap of VMworld 2014

The ESG analyst team headed into a VMworld 2014 with a list of vmworld-2014-top-questions-esg-analysts-hope-to-have-answered/index.html" target="_blank">questions and was met with the high energy of the event the moment we all deplaned at SFO. Each of the individual analysts' key takeaways are included below, following these general observations:

  • The tone of the event (“IT bravery at the new frontier”) was notable/intriguing/odd (pick 2!). We think VMware was trying to recast itself as a revolutionary…
  • Many areas left questions as much as answers and as always it was difficult to confidently distinguish what products were available, when, and pricing.
  • The level of activity and genuine interest by attendees on the exhibition floor was higher than we remember in the past few years. A good sign for future spending.
  • The keynote drove home a strong software-defined data center message, with Pat Gelsinger saying “Disruption is inevitable” and “Let go of the hardware-defined data center.” While the world may or may not be fully ready to make the transition to a fully software-defined world, it was a strong message, especially when you consider the audience held a large number of VMware’s hardware-defined partners.
  • The keynotes were also strangely absent of the typical product depth and feature preview that have highlighted past VMworld events--an omission that was missed by many of the attendees.

Mark Bowker

  • VMware’s introduction of a hyper-converged solution left many attendees excited and some existing hardware partners scratching their heads. EVO has the potential to be very disruptive in the market and it will minimally call attention to hardware choice and how architectures are changing along with hardware consumption models – see my blog vmware-evo-and-its-market-impact/index.html" target="_blank">VMware EVO and Its Market Impact.
  • VMware’s EUC business unit is sharper than ever. Sanjay Poonen did a nice job up on stage exciting the audience with application and desktop delivery models. The EUC team also announced VMware Workspace Suite that is further evidence that the leaders in this space (Citrix, Microsoft, and VMware) are all aligning to a platform approach. If you follow the space, it’s worth reading the Citrix and Microsoft blog responses.
  • VMware keeps getting better at moving up the management stack and did some rebranding this year, landing its management products in vRealize Suite. Still not perfect, but the best I have seen given the challenging situation they have had stitching many different solutions and acquisitions together.
  • Goodbye, vHCS, or what some refer to as vCheese and hello vCloud Air. This service still has to be a giant uphill fight for VMware. I’m sure they are putting together lofty goals to move VMs to this service, but the competition continues to grow and add services.

Jason Buffington

This year seemed to be all about empowering the vAdmin to gain extra agility or capabilities that had previously been relegated to the storage or backup administrators that the vAdmin was then dependent on.

  • EMC announced RecoverPoint for VMs, giving vAdmins a heterogeneous storage replication capability for better resiliency between ESX hosts – see emc-recoverpoint-for-vms-is-another-step-forward-in-vadmin-enablement/index.html" target="_blank">ESG DP blog on EMC RP4VM.
  • CommVault announced new pricing that should allow Simpana to be consumed by vAdmins a-la-carte, instead of as a comprehensive solution for backup admins alone, thereby also making CommVault more competitive with VM-only solutions – see commvault-announces-e2809cyou-can-have-it-your-waye2809d/index.html" target="_blank">ESG DP blog on CommVault.
  • VMware didn’t have as much to say about VDP/VDPA in the upcoming vCloud suite 5.8, presumably due to the many other announcements made by VMware, but 5.8 continues to round out VDP/VDPA as a comprehensive, VM-centric (but not exclusive) backup solution

We’re certainly seeing similar trends around workload-enabled-data-protection-is-the-future-and-that-is-a-good-thing/index.html" target="_blank">Storage Admins and DBAs (as well as vAdmins) also being empowered as backup admins and evolving into facilitators or enablers of data protection … with the result being that those that best know the workload (e.g., virtualization) are becoming more involved in the choice of data protection technologies and their daily operation.

Mark Peters

While recent years have seen VMworld increasingly become not just a storage event but the storage event, it will be interesting to see how much the increasing steps that VMware is taking into the direct storage “domain” impact that over the next few years. This year the storage embrace (from a VMware perspective) and encroachment (from the storage vendor perspective!) can be summarized as:

  • The general….i.e., the inclusion of storage abilities/components in the overall EVO:Rail story. This certainly looks like a gauntlet thrown by VMware….and perhaps gives the lie to the idea that it is ALL about applications as we heard multiple times from the main stage…..I realize it’s something of a chicken and egg situation but solid foundations – including hardware – do matter! VMware knows that and is moving from its “software mainframe” aim of 5+ years ago to more of a full ecosystem play.
  • The specific….there was lots of talk of Virtual Volumes, or VVols. Anyhow, clearly there will be a lot of emphasis placed here and the degree/speed of inclusion and integration by the traditional storage vendors will be interesting to watch….they can’t really ignore it, but don’t have to love it or rush! Also, VMware has a marketing challenge to ensure users understand the differences (or, more accurately, the functional similarities!) between Virtual SANs/VSANs and VVols. Both essentially represent a translation and management layer so that VMs can talk easily to storage in VM terms (rather than LUNs and volumes)…the former for DAS and the latter for existing/traditional storage arrays. With all VMware’s semantic changes there’s plenty of education to do here, even before the persuasion begins.

Kevin Rhone

  • The new announcements by VMware and its circle of strategic partners are both forward-looking, and from our perspective, intentionally unsettling for resellers.
  • Most notably from a VMware partner standpoint, EVO:Rail has caused a bit of a stir among Solution Providers as it:
  • Directly challenges how they handle (commit to) their existing relationships with hyper-converged vendors Simplivity and Nutanix,
  • Makes them wonder if/how VMware’s announcement hastens the next phase of industry consolidation around Tier-1 suppliers and impacts their line cards.
  • Even more importantly, makes the partners (at least the ones that I spoke with) concerned about the impact of hyper-converged on the demand for their high value professional services, which drive their differentiation and ultimately, profitability.
  • As a result, many have left VMworld with more questions than answers about not when but how they align with the right vendors to transform their businesses, so they can adapt to the new consumption models.

Scott Sinclair

  • Welcoming open source: I was impressed with VMware embracing Openstack and Docker Containers, with not only support for API integration but with VMware offering their own Openstack distribution. This is a win-win-win. The open source community gets increased legitimacy and support, customers looking to deploy open source can integrate with their existing virtualized environments, and VMware turns competitive alternatives into complementary solutions.
  • EVO Rail: The partner list was interesting for who was there and who wasn’t. HP and Lenovo were noticeably absent. I would assume Lenovo is added to the list sooner rather than later. It will be interesting to see if HP adds EVO Rail when they already have the StoreVirtual VSA. On list of who’s in, I think most would have assumed Dell, EMC, and maybe Fujitsu, but SuperMicro, NetOne and Inspur surprised me. It will be interesting to see if they stay pure hardware providers or do these companies use EVO Rail as a way to test the solution provider waters.

ESG analysts are available to discuss these topics further and help your teams further understand the market impact, go to market initiatives, and execution strategies.

Topics: Storage Channel IT Infrastructure Data Protection VMworld Cloud Services & Orchestration