The real story behind VMworld 2010

A ton of product announcements -- plus a big marketing push around the private cloud -- added up to a major undercurrent of change in the virtualization industry

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HP's party line is that CloudStart is a great way for CIOs to fight "shadow IT," where business units in large enterprises go rogue and buy servers and software outside of the IT organization's purview. My favorite example of this was a discussion I had several years ago at an InfoWorld event with a few admins from a very large financial institution, who were preparing for a large push toward virtualization. When they conducted an organization-wide capacity analysis, they realized that instead of 3,000 servers -- the rough number they thought they had -- their total came to more than 7,000 servers. In other words, 57 percent of their servers had been purchased without IT oversight! Ouch.

Today, the rogue threat goes beyond physical servers to public cloud offerings. Imagine the surprise of the CIO when he or she learns that a mission-critical application isn't on an under-the-radar server sitting on someone's desk, but is now hosted "somewhere" in the cloud. CloudStart is designed to put a stop to that by offering an IT-sanctioned private cloud in which business units can quickly and easily deploy their applications with minimal lead time and automated chargeback.

But there's another reason as well: A big chunk of HP's bread and butter comes from server and storage sales. If everyone goes off willy-nilly to the public cloud, that might not be good for the CIO, but it could be a lot worse for HP. No doubt some cloud computing providers use high-end hardware from HP, but a much larger percentage don't (see Google or Amazon with their sea of white boxes).

The very public wrangling between HP and Dell over cloud-optimized storage provider 3Par only serves to underline this point. These companies have had their wheelbarrows under the cash spigot of traditional server and storage sales for years. Now the spigot is moving -- and they're tripping over themselves to stay underneath it.

VMware continues to eat its young

Back in the days when VMware just made a hypervisor, there was tremendous potential for third-party software companies to create offerings that complemented VMware's products. Wisely, VMware has been good about offering open APIs in its products to foster growth in its solution channel.

Of course, VMware has also quietly observed the success of these efforts and released similar functionality in its own products. VMware vCenter? VMware Site Recovery Manager? VMware vDR? VMware View? All of these are VMware products (or features) that once required third-party software. The satellite companies mustn't feel that great about it. It's sort of like discovering that your plumber has been taking your wife out to dinner on Thursdays.

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