Customers Enthusiasm for VMware Still There

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2008-09-11 Print this article Print


For customers, the enthusiasm for VMware is still there and many are hoping for a slew of new innovations that will make it easier for them to bring more virtualization into their data centers.

Michael Skaff, CIO of the San Francisco Symphony and an eWEEK Corporate Partner, has been using VMware products dating back to the days of GSX, about two years ago. While he remains confident in and impressed by the technology, he also concedes that, from what he has seen, most VMs in the industry are still only used in test and development environments.

Skaff told eWEEK that the free version of ESXi 3.5 should help the next great wave of virtualization adoption. The trouble, he said, is convincing IT managers that any hypervisor-Microsoft's, VMware's or Citrix's-is integrated enough with the hardware and stable enough to be placed in full production environments that handle mission-critical workloads such as database applications.

"There is still a lack of understanding around the security paradigms for VMs, so that is something VMware needs to focus on educating their customers about," Skaff said. "There is still a lack of confidence that VMs can deliver production-level availability."

However, there are key issues that virtualization is playing a role in, including server consolidation, creating a more efficient and dense data center, and overall green IT initiatives. Greg Smith, vice president and CIO of the World Wildlife Fund, said the latest version of VMware's ESX hypervisor, combined with Intel-based Hewlett-Packard blades, is helping his organization achieve those goals.

While Smith and his IT department at the WWW are pleased with the overall VMware platform-particularly its ability to bring virtualization to his x86 environment and create a better disaster recovery system for mission-critical data-he is looking for more security and recovery features in the upcoming versions of VMware's virtualization suites.

"When I talk about recovery, I'm talking about recovery at a variety of levels from cold to warm to hot and on and off site," said Smith, who is also an eWEEK Corporate Partner. "I don't think they do it as well as they could. I would also like VMware to focus on testing and testing and testing their products to make sure [they are] as good as possible."

When it comes to testing, he said he is concerned about some of the problems VMware encountered when it pushed out a faulty update for its ESX and ESXi products in August that caused problems with the Vmotion features and led to some systems shutting down.

However, even with some of the flaws, the additional competition from Microsoft and Citrix and the shakeup in management, Smith said the VMware platform still offers the best virtualization. He also pointed to a key advantage that VMware-given its head start in the industry-has over its growing competition: businesses' tendencies to stay with a vendor once a full deployment is complete.

"When we find something that works and it's robust and scalable, it's going to take an act of God to move us off of that and move to a competing product," Smith said.


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