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VMWorld 2008 Round Up

As usual there’s been a lot going on in the world of virtualisation and VMWorld 2008 in Las Vegas a few weeks ago gave us all a lot to think about.

Every company present was making announcements and vying for coveted attention and we all left a little shell shocked.

So for this blog, I thought it would be better to discuss how the market is shaping the future of virtualisation based on many of the announcements that came out of the show - some of which were visionary.

A few months ago when Paul Maritz took over VMware and said that VMware would dominate Microsoft I thought he was nuts. That said, the vision of the Virtual Data Centre Operating System (VDC-OS) is one that we have seen coming for several years and it makes total sense.

After all, we don’t do IT to support servers do we? We do IT to support applications. The vision that applications are delivered as virtual appliances run directly on the hardware managed by the hypervisor, is a very powerful one.

Whether or not this lead to ubiquitous “cloud computing” or just a far more scalable and manageable IT infrastructure is not really critical at this time.

VMware announced vServices which will abstract out servers, storage and networks into pools of available resources for the data center.

With the announcement by Cisco of their 1000v virtual switch technology linked (VN-Link) to the Nexus 5000 switch, we know that performance within the virtual network infrastructure will start to match that in the physical world.

So now we will be able to create highly scalable and manageable virtual environments as the base of large data centre deployments.

VMware would then like us to link these together with other data centres of our own and from service providers. This will provide capacity on demand (using AppSpeed) building “cloud” systems to provide the applications we need, with the performance we need from them.

VMware did not forget that one of the most critical components of the vision will be a way to manage these services.

They announced several new products in that arena including vCenter Chargeback to track and bill for services; vCenter CapacityIQ for managing the capacity of virtual machines and clusters and vCenter Orchestrator to manage device configuration/automation within the data centre.

These services are critical to large organisations adoption and penetration of VM’s in to the data centre.

Also, VMware announced its Fault Tolerance solution. This is a new clustering offering at the virtual infrastructure level that will provide real high availability for servers by using what VMware calls vLockStep technology.

This means that it keeps servers replicated between two hosts so that if one host fails, the other takes over with no loss of memory, network, or data.

Finally, there was a lot of buzz at the show around VDI technology. One VMware offering was the ‘View’ solution that provides an ‘off-line’ capability for VDI Virtual Machines and adds the ‘linked clone’ technology to use much less storage for VDI implementations.

It seems the company is taking all of the older client technologies and pulling them all together, including Workstation, Ace and the VDI technologies.

This will make these technologies much more unique and will make VDI much more competitive price-wise to Server Based Computing solutions like Citrix XenApp and Microsoft Terminal Server.

All in all, this year and next will be big years for all the players in the virtualisation markets. It certainly looks like VMware is ready for a fight with a solid vision of what’s important within IT. Remember its all about the applications!