Cloud Forecast for VMware and Xen

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Jun 17, 2009


Could VMware be about to jump the shark? Two new developments this week hint at the possibility.

Virtually Speaking: Will be VMware be a big fish whose market share swallows Xen's, or is it more likely to jump the shark?

VMware has made it clear in recent months that it has set it sights on the cloud. What impact this will have for customers and partners firmly on the ground is becoming less clear as its kefuffle this week with Veeam Software revealed. Of course, there is also the possibility that the motive behind telling Veeam Software to stop supporting ESXi in its new Veeam Backup and Replication 3.1 product was more about a business deal gone south than a major strategy shift.

Still, it is interesting to speculate on what this means for the future. Especially when bookended next to Citrix Systems' release of XenServer 5.5, a little more than a month after it was unveiled at Citrix Synergy and less than three weeks after vSphere, VMware's cloud operating system, began shipping. XenServer, like ESXi, is a free download. Unlike ESXi, XenServer comes with some built-in management capabilities — centralized multi-node management, built-in storage and full live motion.

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The XenServer 5.5 release, available for download now offers consolidated backup, enhanced conversion and search tools, and Active Directory integration. It also features expanded guest support for all versions of Windows and Linux.

The race for the cloud has started a new lap. The Register points out:

Launching XenServer 5.5 in February probably didn't help sales of the prior XenServer 5.1 release, but the economic meltdown was just getting going back in September when XenServer 5.1 came out and no one was going to sell much of anything until after the summer holidays this year anyway.

Which leaves us with two ready-to-go options when the world gets "back to business" in September, which, coincidentally, is just in time for VMworld.

Last week's column questioned whether virtualization and cloud computing were destined to be intertwined. Even without a verdict, cloud is fast becoming the new virtual battleground, and hardware and software vendors are continue circling their wagons around virtualization and cloud, making it seem less of an option.

Dell, for example, on Wednesday unveiled new servers and support packages designed for virtualization and cloud deployments. The offerings are designed to help SMBs get up and running with virtualization and bolster larger enterprises' virtualization and cloud infrastructures.

The PowerEdge R410, for example is a 2-socket 1U server. It was built to be an HPC server, and Dell is positioning it as ideal for an x86 cluster, cloud-optimized for an environment like Google's, Dell vice president of marketing Sally Stevens told ServerWatch, adding that usually a cloud is virtualized.

To get SMBs up and running, Dell is not going it alone. It has brought in ProConsult to deliver the services to get organizations started with vSphere 4.0 and XenServer 5.1.

Virtualization has already made inroads with the SMB set. According to Stevens, SMBs in the 100-to-500 employee category are not shying away from virtualization — a quarter to one-third are seriously pursuing it. With many SMBs already Dell customers, offering them loosely built bundles and consultant options is a way to fast track them there.

In the end, what is most cost-effective and efficient will likely win out. In some cases that will be virtualization, and in some cases that will be the cloud. In many cases, it may well be a combination of the two.

There is no one size fits all, and vendors that offer the right combination of solutions with adequate scalability will be the ones to win out.

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is coauthoring a book about virtualization that is scheduled for publication in October 2009.

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