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Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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VMware's Best And Worst Moves Of 2011

Virtualization market leader VMware launched several bold initiatives in 2011--and made several missteps.

All of this might seem like a secondary exercise or even a distraction from VMware's main task of virtualizing the data center. But what better way to ensure that the next generation of applications--ones built to take advantage of a virtualized data center--will run under VMware than to provide a hospitable development environment that transitions new software smoothly into VMware infrastructure? Virtual machines exist to run applications. With Cloud Foundry, VMware positioned itself as supplier to a large group of independent app developers. In November those developers, voting in an Evans Data survey, named Cloud Foundry their favorite development platform over Amazon, Microsoft's Azure, and Google App Engine. In the long run, the benefit from connecting the means of producing applications to the virtualized environment in which they will run will seem obvious.

[ To learn more about one VMware cloud partner, see VMware, Bluelock To Offer Beta Hybrid Cloud Operation. ]

No. 4: VMware's designation of a set of public cloud partners.

Wait, isn't VMware a proprietary vendor focused on the enterprise data center, not the public cloud? It is, but VMware's sees that the data center of the future will involve hybrid operations--an internal data center meshing with a public cloud. Thus, it's designated BlueLock, SingTel in Singapore, Softbank in Japan, and Colt data centers in Europe as primary public cloud partners that are implementing VMware's vCloud-based infrastructure. In mid-October, Dell announced it was a VMware cloud partner as well. VMware customers may implement their own private cloud with VMware products, then move virtual machines back and forth between the data center and public cloud, or fire up auxiliary engines in the cloud to meet peak demand. vCloud is an attempt by VMware to wean its customers from cloud services from Amazon Web Services, Google, Microsoft, and IBM, and encourage them to use a VMware-compatible alternative. And it put together a globe girdling coalition of public clouds to give VMware customers a choice of where their different units may deploy.

VMware's Worst Moves

No. 1: Adding a virtual memory limit per vSphere 5 license.

This move in July produced a stiffer protest than the company anticipated. VMware announced 32-GB and 48-GB limits for vSphere 5 Enterprise and Enterprise Plus, then--reacting to the outcry--doubled them within three weeks to 64 GB and 96 GBs. Not all customers reacted, but those affected were quick to express themselves on the implications of such a limit. That was a miscalculation of what the customer base would accept. The move to pricing based on the use of a virtual asset is a new concept, one that is sure to become a pattern in the future. But for now, VMware is leading the transition on its own. Furthermore, the price change most affected its largest customers. The revised memory limits were generous enough that most small and midsized businesses and some large businesses weren't. The ones who were hit included VMware's customers adopting virtualization at the most aggressive pace, including those who have virtualized their databases, a move that requires a lot of memory. Not surprisingly, these aggressive customers gave VMware some push back.

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