After reading the Wall Street Journal Article, attending VMworld 2012 (where it was announced that Pat Gelsinger was replacing Paul Maritz), and after VMware consumes acquisition after acquisition only to wait one, two and even three years before incorporating said acquired functionality into the VMware product line (for which they acquired); I’m beginning to wonder if VMware needs to slow down on the growth and expansion and get back to what they do great! Building the best hypervisor on the planet.

Some observations with my customers: The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) aka VMware View “fire” seems to have been put out due to cost alone. The “java as a service” vFabric craze seems to have never left the ground. Not to mention, I’ve never seen a single Zimbra implementation. Without market penetration, those become some crazy expensive acquisitions quickly. While were at it, throw in the latest gobble-up being Nicira at a meager 1.2 billion (insert Austin Powers voice). Right there, you’ve got four acquisitions that are not playing in the mainstream market where most of my customers live. Perhaps VMware should be more diligent about incorporating acquired software into their application stack with a better sense of urgency.

That being said, all of my customers are VMware customers, all of them using either ESXi 4 or 5 for server and/or desktop virtualization to some point. Hearing that, you’d think that’s where VMware would focus its efforts. Or are they of the mindset that “those customers have already paid their bills, lets find new customers?” That, I don’t know.

What do you see in the immediate future of VMware?

Scott’s post on multiple hypervisor’s got me thinking…

Regardless of workload (server, VDI, DR, Test/Dev) I myself only really see one hypervisor out there… VMware. I think so many companies have built their operational policies, processes and procedures around ESX that it is going to be an incredibly difficult migration to something else. I know of one of my customers that is running Citrix XenServer in a XenDesktop environment. Unfortunately, they are unhappy with the solution and there is talk of plans to move to an ESX based XenDesktop solution. I also know of a single customer running Microsoft Hyper-V Server. However, it is not in production or Test/Dev; it’s more of a tinkering environment and an excuse to play with Hyper-V.

Why are customers slow to move to other hypervisors? I think there are a couple other compelling reasons for customers to stick with VMware.

  1. Almost all of my customers are well past 80% virtualized, making it much more difficult to back out and change direction given the investment that they already have.
  2. Almost all of my customers are using other VMware products like Site Recovery Manager and vCloud Director, which utilize VMware’s ESX hypervisor at their core.
  3. VMware has become “comfort food” for IT Professionals, stable, comfortable to use and familiar.

I think these three reasons alone are pretty compelling in terms of the effort (equals money) required to either introduce or replace a VMware Hypervisor environment.

With other customers that I’ve spoken to, another problem for competing hypervisors like XenServer, KVM and Hyper-V, is the price. The free, or near free price seems to subliminally  highlight the difference in feature set when compared to VMware; whether rational or not. Take into account the various State and Local EDucation (SLED) discounts, it’s almost impractical for SLED customers to not deploy VMware and the various VMware applications with the gargantuan feature set.. This, I believe, is the key component for VMware.

As for desktop virtualization aka end-user virtualization; VMware seems to keep holding ground as well. Hypervisors like XenServer and KVM are not widely supported by mainstream monitoring and management platforms (SolarWinds, EM7, etc.). Hyper-V is just recently supported by XenDesktop and is definitely not supported by VMware View. Not to mention, when purchasing View, it’s pretty advantageous to purchase View Premier as your entitled to ESX Enterprise Plus. Not only is that a great deal, but pretty much seals the Hypervisor market share for VMware View.

So that being said, what are you seeing in the general public?

IBM has made deploying ESXi within the IBM PureFlex Flex System environment a snap. They’ve included VMware ESXi (5.1 at this time) on each and every X series compute node.

To deploy this, start by going to the Chassis Management Module (CMM). Then go to Chassis Management > Compute Nodes > Select Node > Action > Open Remote Console

Before we power it on, we need to adjust the boot order. To do this, click on the node that you’re wanting to configure, then on the Boot Sequence tab, select “Embedded Hypervisor” as Device #1.

Then click apply.

From there, power on the node from the Chassis Management screen.

Now, log into your IBM Flex System V7000 Storage Array interface.

Go to Hosts > Add Host > Fibre Channel Host

Select each HBA from the Fibre Channel Ports drop-down menu and click Add Port to List. Then click Create Host.

Go to Volumes > Volumes by Pool > New Volume > Select Thin > Select mdiskgrp0 > size 1000 > Name ESX_DatastoreXX > Create and Map to Host
Click Continue
Click to select your newly created ESX host
Click Map Volumes
Click Close

Go to the console of the booted ESX host

Log in as root with a blank password

Change the root password

Got to configure management network > IP configuration

Configure accordingly to your networking environment

You can now close the console and verify connectivity using ping. You can now manage your ESX server using the vSphere client.

From here, add your datastore, configure networking, and you’re ready to go!