VMware 2011: The good, the bad, and the cloudy

VMware may be the crowned server virtualization leader, but not everything went its way in 2011

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But one of VMware's greatest adversaries may be the fact that end-users don't necessarily want their virtualization supplier to also be their system's management solution provider. It may be a trust thing, or it may be a separation of church and state. Either way, it's another battle for VMware to overcome while also remaining nimble enough to compete against faster-moving startups and traditional management software companies who understand the space -- both of whom can provide management for a heterogeneous environment without fear of losing hypervisor market share.

Cloud Foundry: Platform as a service

If you hadn't heard of it, Cloud Foundry is an open platform as a service (PaaS) that provides a choice of clouds, developer frameworks, and application services designed to make it easier to build, test, deploy, and scale applications. This is a bit different than talking about VMware ESX, which is more of a building block for the virtual data center.

Cloud Foundry was probably one of VMware's most strategic -- and most misunderstood -- moves this year. Much like the company's Spring acquisition, for virtual data center administrators this move may seem like a distraction from VMware's main purpose of virtualizing the data center.

But at the end of the day it's about applications, and VMware has done a decent job over the last few years of promoting the fact that applications are what users and businesses use to get work done, and downplaying the importance of the operating system (read: Microsoft). What better way for VMware to help ensure tomorrow's applications are designed and developed to take advantage of a virtualized data center or a cloud environment or to make sure they will operate smoothly in a VMware environment?

With all of the company's proprietary software, it is interesting to see how much VMware has embraced the free software development model for its PaaS offering. This move should settle developers' fears about getting locked in by VMware -- a company known in the virtualization community but not so much in the world of development, where it needs to make a name for itself when going up against companies like Microsoft and Amazon.

On the desktop: Workstation and Fusion

Thank goodness the desktop platform isn't dead! I started my virtualization career back in 1999 with VMware Workstation. When I say this platform has come a long way, that would be an understatement. In 2011, when many had given up on the idea of advancing a workstation-level virtualization platform, VMware continued to improve and enhance VMware Workstation for the PC and Fusion for the Mac.

With more than 50 new features in Workstation 8, VMware greatly improved on the product, adding support for HD audio, USB 3 and Bluetooth devices, as well as improved virtual SMP, 3D graphics, and support for 64GB VMs. VMware has also thinned the line between workstation and server-class products by allowing drag and drop of a VM from a user's desktop to a VMware vSphere environment.

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