8 Conversations From the VMworld Show Floor

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VMware was front and center at its seventh annual trade show last week. It was not the only vendor that had news to announce, however. With nonstop meetings, press conferences and attempts to soak it all in, VMworld was an intense four days. Here are eight interesting takeaways gleaned from conversations with vendors.

1. Cisco's Security Offering

From cloud computing virtual to I/O and more, here are highlights of eight ServerWatch conversations had with vendors at VMworld.

VMware's vShield may have been among the headliners of the show, but Cisco unveiled a security product of its own. Cisco introduced Virtual Security Gateway, a service for its Nexus 1000V switch that addresses security and regulatory concerns within virtualized data center and multitenant cloud environments. Ed Bugnion described the product to Serverwatch as, "a virtual security gateway at the virtual layer." He also noted that the product follows a paradigm very similar to that of VMware, whereby, "it secures the virtual machines by building zones and then manages policies for zones." As "islands of ownership become no longer sustainable," mulitenancy is becoming an increasingly popular choice. Hence, "when moving to a multitenant environment, it is important to provide multitenant security," Bugnion said.

The Virtual Security Gateway is currently in beta. It is expected to ship before year end.

2. Microsoft's Flight to the Clouds

VMworld may seem an odd place to find Microsoft. When Hyper-V appeared on the scene everyone expected it to trounce VMware. While that hasn't yet happened to the degree expected, Hyper-V has been making steady inroads as Windows Server 2008 gathers steam.

Microsoft is also gunning for the public cloud. Last Tuesday, it went after VMware with a full page ad in USA Today -- an odd choice of newspapers, until one considers that most conference attendees likely had a copy of the paper delivered to their door, gratis. The ad takes the form of an open letter to VMware customers informing them that VMware's three-year license agreements have the potential for vendor lock-in, which in turn might negatively impact the business.

But with the arrival of cloud computing, signing up for a three-year virtualization commitment may lock you into a vendor that cannot provide you with the breadth of technology, flexibility or scale that you'll need to build a complete cloud computing environment.

Although not nearly as dramatic as its 2008 poker chip stunt, which resulted in VMware clamping down on what it would allow exhibiting competitors to do, it does emphasis Microsoft's commitment to the cloud.

Microsoft is channeling much of its energy into Azure. Describing the cloud as "server elimination," Patrick O'Rourke, director, marketing communications, Server and Tools Business, told ServerWatch that, "Microsoft has the ability to connect the customer path to the cloud leading to a common development model, a common management model and a common identity model." It then takes it a step further because unlike VMware, whose entire product line centers around server virtualization, Microsoft's public cloud offering removes the need to think about what is going on at the server level.

3. Two New Servers for AMD

At the heart of virtualization and cloud computing is hardware. Perhaps no two vendors are more aware of this than AMD and Intel. On Tuesday, AMD announced the IBM x3755 M3 will contain its Opteron 6000 Series platform. With this addition, 45 unique AMD Opteron 6000 series-based platforms are expected to be available by the end of the year. Other OEMs, including the 6000 series, are Acer, Dell and HP.

Tim Mueting, virtualization solutions manager, Commercial Solutions Group, Commercial Software, explained that the 6000 series is ideal for HPC clusters and virtualization. It is intended to be the platform of choice for larger environments, and it is available in 8- and 12-core editions. It was announced in March. In contrast, the 4000 series, which was announced in June, is being portioned for large scale-out cloud environments and custom shops, Mueting said. It is available in both 4- and 6-core iterations.

AMD was not the only chip vendor to release news from the show. Intel had a significant announcement of its own.

4. Novell Makes SUSE Linux Enterprise Server Available for VMware

VMware CEO Paul Maritz may have declared the OS on its way to irrelevancy, but it still has a role to play. On Wednesday, VMware and Novell announced SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) for VMware was GA -- the first step in the companies' expanded partnership announced in June 2010. With SLES for VMware, customers with a VMware vSphere license and subscription also receive a subscription for patches and updates to SLES for VMware. Customers can also purchase technical support services from VMWare for SLES.

With VMware compatibility, SLES is now available on the three major virtualization platforms -- VMware, Hyper-V and Citrix Xen, Benjamin Grubin, solution marketing manager, data center told ServerWatch. Novell's goal, he explained, is to be the perfect guest.

5. Dell/KACE Sees Rapid Growth in Virtual Appliance

KACE came on the scene several years ago with its KBOX product. In March, Dell acquired it, and since then it has released a virtual appliance version of KBOX. Momentum for it is building quickly. Senior Product Manager Robert Kelly told ServerWatch that 25 percent of KACE products shipped today are the virtual appliance.

6. Pancetera's Healthy Move From Stealth Mode

Less a month after coming out of stealth mode, Pancetera has not only had a big customer win, but it's also sharing the stage with IBM for the improvements they together provide with a joint customer. Pancetera sells a virtual appliance that makes managing virtual storage easier and more efficient. The California Emergency Management Agency will deploy Pantera's SmartRead software to extend the capabilities of Tivoli Storage manager. Together, IBM and Pancetera are able to reduce the amount of data to be backed up by as much as 75 percent, thus reducing the amount of time needed from hours to minutes

7. Sendmail, More Than an MTA

Sendmail has been an institution in the MTA space since the early 1990s. Although it slipped from the radar this decade, commercial offerings from the company behind the open source MTA have quietly kept pace with the times. Two years ago, sendmail released a virtual appliance that did not gain traction outside of the developer community. That changed when it struck an OEM deal with Dell to make it available as a hard appliance and partnered with VMware to make a downloadable software appliance. .

Despite these contemporary commercial offerings, Product Manager Nicholas Filippi was quick to note, "sendmail is still an MTA and still open source." And with many companies satisfied that this basic offering does what it needs to do, sendmail likely isn't going anywhere any time soon.

8. Embotics Opens Portal to VM Accessibility

The week before VMworld, Embotics released version 3.6 of its V-Commander software. V-Commander is a virtualization management system. One of the most compelling new features in the new release is a self-service portal in which users, "[via a] portal account, can simply access the VMs they own without going through vCenter or V-Commander," VP Marketing David Lynch told ServerWatch.

The implications here are significant. No longer is a choice of either lumping more on the admin's plate and creating a human bottleneck between the admin and line of business manager (or whomever) or giving someone access to vCenter and thus creating potential security and error risks. Now, everything that happens in the portal is logged in V-Commander and then vCenter, allowing users to set up their containers and reports in a way that makes sense, Lynch said.

Embotics will get yet another feature boost in December, when support for Hyper-V will be added, he said. Customer feedback revealed support would be needed in 2012, and Embotics is proactively meeting this need.

Amy Newman is the senior managing editor of ServerWatch and Enterprise IT Planet. She has been covering virtualization since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical Virtualization Solutions, published by Pearson in October 2009.

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This article was originally published on Sep 8, 2010
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