At the VMworld conference, VMware CEO and President Paul Maritz gives his first large-scale public address and offers a vision of VMware that moves virtualization beyond a server and data center consolidation technology and toward creating a platform that will drive a cloud computing infrastructure for both enterprises and third-party hosting companies. Maritz also addressed VMware's challenge from Microsoft when it comes to the future of virtualization.
LAS VEGAS-New VMware
President and CEO Paul Maritz gave his first detailed public remarks at the
start of the VMworld conference Sept. 16, and his keynote and opening comments
ranged from how virtualization will enhance the emerging cloud computing
infrastructure to the challenges VMware faces from Microsoft.
In his opening keynote, Maritz
described VMware's vision for building out cloud computing infrastructures
for VMware customers and for third-party hosting providers. This will include a set of new
virtualization technology, management capabilities and services that VMware calls
the Virtual Datacenter OS or VDC-OS.
While Maritz offered a broad outline of how these technologies will work and
how VMware plans to bring these products into the marketplace, the bulk of the
VDC-OS will not arrive until at least 2009. The first major step toward this
goal will be a fundamental overhaul of VMware's Virtual Infrastructure suite.
That update to the Virtual Infrastructure suite is also due in 2009.
The idea of a data center operating system seems to indicate that Maritz and
VMware engineers are looking displace traditional Microsoft Windows or Linux
operating systems. However, Maritz said after his keynote that displacement of
the traditional OS is not the goal, although VMware's VDC-OS will resemble a
traditional operating system in some ways.
"The application loads that it will handle are fundamentally different
from the application loads that current operating systems handle, so this is
drawing different points in lines in the hierarchy," Maritz said.
"So, it has many parallels to the operating system in the sense that it provides
services but it is not a traditional operating system. We expect that people
will increasingly use the services to construct new types of applications loads
that will fulfill the role that we currently see in the combination of
traditional operating systems and applications."
With the VDC-OS plan, VMware plans to expand the reach of its virtualization
platform so that it will touch all aspects of the data center. While virtualization
has been traditionally used within x86 servers, VMware's plan to build cloud
infrastructures means that the fundamental VMware software and management tools
will now integrate with the data center's storage and networking as well as
address aspects of creating new applications and security
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research, said the VDC-OS and VMware's
entrance into cloud computing will allow the company to create an even larger
layer of abstraction within the data center.
"In old-style virtualization, the question was, Does it matter what
kind of hardware it's running on? The answer is no," King said. "With
the VDC-OS, it now doesn't matter what the OS is or what the platform is. The
VDC-OS basically makes everything underneath it essentially transparent."
While VMware is looking to increase the capabilities of its own
infrastructure platform to address the issues of building out a cloud both
within an enterprise and also through a third-party provider, the company is
also strengthening its partnerships with other key providers.
In the area of microprocessors, VMware worked with Intel to develop a
technology called Flex Migration that Intel
began offering with its Xeon 7400 series processors, which debuted Sept. 15.
The technology will allow VMware's VMotion to better move virtual machines
between sets of servers that use different Intel chip sets. This will work with
new Intel processors and chip sets, including the upcoming microprocessors
based on the "Nehalem" microarchitecture.
VMware is also working with Advanced Micro Devices on similar technologies
for the Opteron processor. However, VMware has not developed a way to move
virtual machines from an Intel platform to an AMD
platform at this time.
It will take some time to pull all these pieces together and provide what
VMware hopes will be a Google-like data center for individual enterprises, and
Maritz said he believes this will develop during the next 12 to 24 months. VMware
will also need to provide third-party providers the ability to federate their
offerings with the data centers of individual businesses.
In the meantime, VMware is looking to fight off a number of challenges from Microsoft,
Citrix Systems and a host of small virtualization companies. VMware
is undergoing its own changes as Maritz takes over the company from
co-founder and former CEO Diane Greene, who was
forced out earlier in 2008.
What made VMware a force in the IT industry was that no other vendor was
working with x86 virtualization when VMware was formed in 1998. Now, the field
has shifted and Maritz views Microsoft as the main challenge to VMware
dominance, he said, adding that he does believe that Microsoft is still behind
when it comes to virtualization technology.
"You can never count Microsoft out ... and we cannot rest on our
laurels," Maritz said.
During his post-keynote talk, Maritz also addressed some of conflicts VMware
has with the open-source community regarding VMware's proprietary hypervisor.
For his part, Maritz said he admired the efforts of the open-source community
and said there has been a debate within VMware as to whether it should support
open-source hypervisors such as Xen.
Ultimately, Maritz said VMware needs to address the challenges that are
being made to its products before investing time and resources in open-source
"We need get our act together around our own
platform, but we are not religious about it," Maritz said.