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VMWare and the cloud
August 11, 2009 at 11:41 am #77536
From VMWARE blog
Bringing Cloud to Enterprise IT
Posted by Dan Chu
All clouds are not created equal. Google recently posted a blog entitled “What we talk about when we talk about cloud computing” which outlines what Google perceives as advantages to its approach to cloud. While VMware agrees that a major part of future enterprise architectures will reside in the cloud, we differ greatly on our approach.
To save everyone the time and energy, the summary of their post is essentially that Google uses cheap hardware that they expect to fail and smart software to build the equivalent of a giant computer, that Google AppEngine can deliver the cloud for traditional IT, and that the Google model can produce the fastest innovation for end customers.
Google has a valid and interesting model but we are finding that it simply doesn’t work for the vast of majority of business IT. Let’s address the issues individually:
1. Building the Giant Computer
Google says that they take “a large set of low cost commodity systems and [tie] them together into one large supercomputer” with their software. Fundamentally, we agree with this approach as we have done exactly this for thousands of customers over the last 10 years. Using virtualization, VMware’s solutions have become the de-facto standard for customers looking to improve the efficiency of their datacenters while saving costs.
Over 130,000 customers run VMware and over 55% of VMware datacenter customers have standardized on the VMware platform. Companies like Lockheed Martin and GE are building their own internal clouds using VMware.
While we are aligned on the overall direction, the Google blog claims that their scale and approach of managing servers lends a key advantage. If companies had unlimited resources and were able to build massive datacenters with all of these commodity servers, the Google model may be the way to go. However, this isn’t the picture of most datacenters today. What virtualization is able to provide is improved performance of applications, improved utilization of existing resources and nearly unlimited scalability. And VMware offers what many customers require—choice. In fact, more than 500 service providers including major global players like AT&T, Savvis and Terremark offer VMware as their platform to deliver services. In a recent survey of top global managed service providers, every one of the top ten ran on VMware.
The VMware vision is to enable customers to run the giant computer through software on top of standard hardware, to be able to choose seamlessly to either run in their internal cloud or in an external service provider cloud, and to provide connectivity and consistent manageability between the two.
2. Leveraging an Enterprise-class Cloud
Google follows up by promoting its AppEngine stack as the way to deliver capacity and scaling for applications and databases, “to deliver the set of scalable services that customers would otherwise have to maintain themselves in a virtualization model.”
This sounds good, until you run into the issue of trying to run your core applications on AppEngine. Customers are looking to match their IT platform to their business needs, not the inverse. The Google approach calls for a least common denominator set of non integrated cloud services that everyone squeezes into. Customers want the flexibility and breadth of solutions that exist today along with the efficiency of the cloud. Customers are not about to re-write or modify their applications so that they can run in a specific cloud. In particular, given current macro-economic circumstances, customers have a high priority for a cloud platform that can take their existing apps, and enable them to take advantage of the cloud.
Finally, customers want advanced business continuity, availability, and management capabilities for production, enabled by such technologies as VMotion, High Availability, Fault Tolerance, Storage VMotion, and SRM. Today customers are broadly using these capabilities and VMware’s service provider partners are also delivering these as a service. For example, T-Systems has built a solution practice and large customer footprint for running SAP implementations in their VMware-based cloud.
The Google blog further suggests that “there is limited value to running an Exchange Server in a virtual machine” and that customers should just use Gmail. Enterprises aren’t going to move off an enterprise class mail platform for a personal-use platform. To take Exchange as an example, it represents the kind of business-critical core IT application that is what customers want running on VMware today. It is consistently one of our top several workloads being run on VMware, and we have invested in a lot in ongoing performance work with Exchange. In fact, IBM has demonstrated industry-leading capacity of Exchange mailboxes where customers can scale Exchange greater horizontally with VMware than natively on regular hardware.
3. Innovating with Cloud
The Google blog closes by asserting that “IT systems are typically slow to evolve,” and that Google is much faster to innovate. This supposition is mostly focused on Google Apps and its pace for new feature rollout. This is fine for customers who are looking for exactly the features that Google happens to be working on, but for any other IT needs that a customer might have, the Google stack is a black box to the customer without the component architecture that lets many different types of partners integrate and contribute their new technologies. In contrast, VMware embraces and extends the entire X86 ecosystem of thousands of ISV’s along with hundreds of service providers to bring the cloud to customers on their own terms. There is nothing like that for Google’s cloud.
For customers looking to maintain the flexibility to move back and forth between the external cloud and internal IT, Google’s proprietary platform is like the “Hotel California or the roach motel” where your apps go in, but they never come out.
VMware provides choice—allowing customers to put new and existing applications where they want, when they want. So in a nutshell, if you’re a business of pretty much any size and want to consume cloud services, there are options that allow you more flexibility, reliability, compatibility and mobility.
And if you’re already a VMware user, leverage what you know about the reliability and compatibility of VMware VMs to run the cloud internally or with cloud providers worldwide like SunGard, T-Systems, Tata Communications, and many more. With VMware, the cloud isn’t something “out there” as simply a destination to get to; it’s a new “state of IT” that can also come to you.
Dan Chu is vice president of Emerging Products and Markets for VMware. He leads VMware’s efforts in the areas of small and medium business, virtual appliances, and cloud computing.
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