Determined to drive adoption of software-defined data center architecture, VMware made some strategic announcements at the 10th annual VMworld in San Francisco. More than 22,000 people got first-hand demonstrations of the new NXSTM, Virtual SANTM, VMware vCloud Suite 5.5 and VMware vSphere with Operations Management 5.5.
Raghu Raghuram, executive vice president, Cloud Infrastructure and Management, VMware, called it the company's next wave of innovation. He also threw down the competitive gauntlet, declaring that the new products would "fundamentally redefine the hypervisor and its role in the data center."
Is it just conference hype? Or is there substance to Raghuram's words? VMware introduced its software-defined data center architecture a year ago and has seen plenty of traction. VMware is reporting that with its software-defined data center architecture customers are witnessing greater value than those who didn't make the transition. But some analysts are concerned it's just for the largest of companies.
Sneak Peak at Software-Defined Tools
VMware's research found two-thirds of respondents reported could generate new revenue when they expanded virtualization use. Of those businesses able to take full advantage of a complete software-defined data center architecture, 85 percent were able to generate new revenue as high as 22 percent for their businesses. ADP Dealer Services, an OEM auto manufacturing company, is one of the benefactors.
"The software-defined data center architecture enables us to deliver true infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service to our lines of business and our development organization with the requisite performance, availability, and security -- all automated by software," said Bill Naughton, CIO of ADP Dealer Services. "With increased IT agility and efficiency, we're poised to meet the present and future demands of the business."
In terms of the new products, VMware NSX is a network virtualization platform that promises to deliver the entire networking and security model in software, decoupled from networking hardware. NSX offers a new operational model for networking that the company said breaks through current physical network barriers and will help data center operators drive better speed and agility, while reducing costs. NSX will be available in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Meanwhile, VMware Virtual SAN extends VMware vSphere to pool compute and direct-attached storage. Virtual SAN offers a virtual data plane that clusters server disks and flash to create shared storage designed for virtual machines. It promises to unlock a new tier of converged infrastructure that enables rapid and granular scaling of compute and storage resources. VMware Virtual SAN will be available via a free public beta program in the third quarter.
Finally, VMware vCloud Suite 5.5 features new and enhanced product functionality as well as product integrations. The VMware vCloud Suite will make it possible for customers to build and operate vSphere-based private clouds using the software-defined data center architecture, providing virtualized infrastructure services with built-in intelligence to automate on-demand provisioning, placement, configuration and control of applications based on policies.
What About the Little Guys?
We asked Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, for his thoughts on the slew of "software-defined" announcements coming out of VMware. He told us VMware's vision is no different than the vision of any other vendor: to create a much more fluid data center.
"VMware is promoting this concept of end-to-end software integration from network all the way to applications. That's the right vision but the three customers they had talk about it at VMworld -- GE, Citi and eBay -- are the biggest of the big. I've always said the vision of SDN is great from the global 2000 but is it actually scalable down to the next 2 million, the rest of the world?" Kerravala asked.
"Many of the problems VMware is trying to solve are problems great big companies have -- and bringing on SDN requires a lot of process change and new staff hires and things that most mid-sized companies can't afford. VMware is hitting the nail on the head as far as the needs of the global 2000, but I am not fully convinced that the needs for a SDN as implemented by VMware simplifies things enough to where you could see the mid-sized corporations -- a regional bank, not Citibank -- deploy it," he added.