What's key in VMware's new vSphere, vCenter, and vCloud

VMware's huge slate of new features fills in blanks, makes it more competitive -- but sometimes at the cost of its partners

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The fact that you see EMC intellectual property showing up in VMware products should surprise no one, given EMC owns VMware. Fortunately, it doesn't seem VMware is simply packaging a crippled version of Avamar into its product stack, a common ploy that in this case would invite EMC's sales folks to relentlessly upsell you on the real thing. Instead, VMware appears to be reusing some of Avamar's technology in a completely new, purpose-built stack that stands alone from the EMC products.

Although I have yet to be able to put hands on VDP (stay tuned for that), if it's any good, the same partners (Vizioncore and Veeam) that might stand to be hurt by the introduction of vSphere Replication will also take it in the teeth here.

vSphere networking

One of the areas of the core hypervisor to see a lot of growth in the 5.1 update is the vSphere Distributed Switch. This software-based switching architecture adds support for 802.3ad LACP load balancing, RSPAN and ERSPAN remote traffic monitoring, a slew of new automated configuration health checks, VXLAN support, and SR-IOV support. Many of these additions should facilitate software-defined networking initiatives happening in the vCloud Director -- making it far easier and faster to deploy cloud-based services without having to touch physical network hardware.

However, that list of new features is almost exactly as what the fairly popular Cisco Nexus 1000V virtual switch gets you over the VDS present in previous versions of vSphere. From a straight-up capabilities and performance standpoint, the gulf between VMware's VDS and Cisco's is far narrower now. Unless Cisco comes out with a similarly interesting list of new features for its virtual switch platform, the only thing it'll really be able to offer is the administrative control separation that many siloed IT departments need to keep the networking folks and server folks from stepping on each others' toes.

Third-party products: Expect to be assimilated

Although it may sound like I'm complaining about VMware's incursions into third-party product lines, I'm not. I believe it's entirely logical for VMware to do what it's doing -- such expansion helps it compete and could make things easier for its customers. Building a more tightly integrated, single-source product that includes what everyone needs makes a great deal of sense.

That said, I'd be a little worried if I were a VMware software partner with the next great idea on how to fill a feature gap that VMware has left open. If a vendor does deliver on an idea that pays off, it'll have just one, maybe two release cycles before it wakes up and finds some version of it built into vSphere proper. That may be one reason why you see companies like Veeam diversifying into support for Microsoft's Hyper-V and focusing more heavily on virtualization-management challenges. If partners can stay a few steps ahead of VMware's inexorable feature-set growth, they'll stay relevant -- otherwise, their days are numbered.

This article, "What's key in VMware's new vSphere, vCenter, and vCloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Matt Prigge's Information Overload blog and follow the latest developments in storage at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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