Virtually Speaking: Virtualization Goes Showbiz

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Nov 10, 2006


Amy Newman
Like the virtualization space, VMworld is growing up. All eyes in the industry were on the vendor-sponsored show this week.

Single-vendor trade shows have traditionally been a risky proposition for all involved. Does the vendor have enough clout to attract others in the field and thus develop a balanced event more about learning than selling? Intel and Oracle are two vendors that have done this successfully.

VMware may be close to joining the fold. This week's VMworld, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center attracted close to 100 exhibitors, about 7,000 attendees, and was the epicenter of a host of virtual announcements, from the synergistic to the seemingly incompatible, from OEMs and small ISVs alike.

You can usually tell when an announcement is planned around a show. A good indicator is whether the product is actually ready. When a lot of announcements for products that aren't ready for prime time are made at a conference, it generally means the vendor believes the show is too important to let pass without getting itself in the spotlight.

VMworld earned that honor this year.

Gateway, for example, used VMworld as the platform from which to plunge into the AMD waters. Its three dual-core offerings were a 1U E-9422R, 2U E-9522R and 3U E-9722R rack systems were unveiled at the show and are available for immediate purchase. They will not, however, be shipping until the middle of the month.

From this vantage point two key themes came out of the show. VMware ESX is now considered a platform in its own right, and one as critical as Red Hat Linux or Microsoft Windows. It's possible that this perspective was skewed this week in no small part because of the vendor whose name was on the show, but it's more likely because of its wide footprint in both mind and market share.

The battle is not yet over, and no doubt Xen, Microsoft, Virtual Iron and others will counter the VMware love with news and partnerships of their own. While all virtual eyes were on Los Angeles, for example, XenSource released XenEnterprise for Windows, which is based on its original Linux-based product.

An even more critical indicator to come out of the show is that the virtualization space is moving toward maturity at warp speed. Most technology followers probably knew this in their gut, but the volume of established infrastructure management vendors unveiling tools to manage a virtual infrastructure alongside the physical is hard evidence.

Veritas, for example, unveiled Veritas Cluster Server for VMware ESX (which, coincidentally, is not scheduled to be released until the first quarter of 2007). The software is basically Veritas Cluster Server ported to VMware. It runs on top of ESX Server and uses both VMotion and DSS, Dan Lamorena, senior marketing manager, data center management group at Symantec told ServerWatch.

Meanwhile, in the traffic management space, Zeus Technology released Zeus Extensible Traffic Manager Virtual Appliance (ZXTM VA) for VMware, a software-based version of its traffic management system. It runs on VMware's ESX Server 3 data center infrastructure and is shipping now.

Ironically, the news from VMware itself pales in significance. It unveiled VMware Lab Manager 2.0. The new offering has the 2.0 nomenclature because it originated from the former Akimbi Slingshot, which VMware obtained through acquisition, James Phillips, senior director of virtualization, told ServerWatch.

Lab Manager "creates a test environment of an entire server environment on a few boxes," Phillips said. The product works with VMware Infrastructure 3 in both Windows and Linux environments to address the "dev, test and integration stage."

With this product, VMware now offers a "closed-loop encapsulated process," Phillips said, as it already had offering that cover the stage, implementation and management stages. In other words, an end-to-end solution, as the marcomm pros would say, which makes it a formidable, though not unbeatable, competitor.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been following the virtualization space since 2001.

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