VMware is moving up the stack with an ambitious plan to offer an IT services environment that connects the end points between the data center and the cloud.
It's a strategy that we see emerging with other vendors in the space. Virtual computing has passed the inflection point. Virtual machines are now beginning to outnumber physical servers. Without a doubt, the future of the data center is virtual.
The effects are numerous. The enterprise is witnessing a totally new app infrastructure. If you are a leader in enterprise IT you have to take into consideration the rapid acceptance of technologies such as Ruby on Rails and lightweight Web services that provide the capability to offer a Web-oriented architecture.
That's what gives VMware the apparent confidence to offer up an agenda as ambitious as it did today at VMworld.
- The company launched its VMware vFabric, which is a cloud app platform that combines its Spring Java development framework and data management, app servers and load balancing. The product is targeted at heterogeneous IT shops.
- VMware announced six new vCloud products. The headliner here is the vCloud Director, which is designed to model and deliver IT infrastructure services. The idea here is to create virtual data centers and computing pools. There were other security products such as vShield and vShield Edge as well as vCloud Datacenter Services, interoperable clouds.
- Desktop virtualization was also a key theme. VMware pitched a vision where legacy desktops would be shed for more cloud delivery. The key theme was a "cloud experience for the enterprise." The big pitch here was VMware View 4.5. Desktop virtualization was a key theme on both the Citrix and VMware earnings conference calls.
- VMware also said that its ThinApp 4.6 is now available. VMware ThinApp is designed to deploy Microsoft Windows 7 virtual desktop environments.
- The company also outlined its consulting services and partnerships with the likes of Hewlett-Packard to create private clouds. Verizon will also include VMware's applications in its computing as a service lineup.
VMware is challenging Microsoft with a stack that moves enterprise from client-based apps to a virtualized and multi-tenant world.
To do that you need simple app integration, a cloud infrastructure and security.
In this respect, what interests us is the acquisition of TriCipher, which VMware announced today. TriCipher provides OpenID services with MyOneLogin. In March, we wrote about how OpenID will transform the enterprise ecosystem. The acquisition proves how this is playing out.
The acquisition fits into VMware's Spring platform, which it touted as an on-ramp for IT to launch apps. The apps on Spring leverage the pooled resources that come with a virtual infrastructure. They can migrate from there to a cloud infrastructure. User name and passwords do not provide adequate security for apps in this kind of environment. MyOneLogin helps fill that gap.
Services like MyOneLogin provide infrastructure for security authentication markup language ( SAML) integration and single-sign on with multi-factor authentication. It positions VMware as an identity provider. With TriCipher, VMware can become a hub that keeps track of updates, new protocols and the other issues that come with keeping up to date with federated identity technicalities.
With the services in place, VMware can host third-party apps much like Google Apps Marketplace, which also supports OpenID. On that kind of platform an enterprise customer can also become a service provider. It serves as a platform for adopting SaaS technologies, fast becoming a fixture in the enterprise. Customers, be they employees or others, will be ready to buy without concerns about registering new user names and passwords. As we said in a previous post, it's like a club: You join once. That's it.
SpringSource is proving to be an important acquisition. Without it, VMware would not be in the position to make this identity play. SpringSource opened up the opportunity to partner with Google and Salesforce.com.
It also ties into the news about VMware's development of cloud platforms that are being offered through a network of third-party service providers. The service providers will adopt VMware technology. The same VMware virtual machines that run in the enterprise data center will also run on the platforms of third-party service providers.
It represents what VMware calls its VFabric, a set of integrated application services that include a lightweight application server, global data management, cloud-ready messaging, dynamic load balancing and application performance management. According to VMware, "The result is a complete cloud application platform that ensures performance and portability across heterogeneous cloud environments."
An OpenID infrastructure makes this kind of network a reality. VMware now can offer federated identity across a network that may be internal or extend into the cloud.
The TriCipher acquisition also points to VMware's new push to provide security services. It is now offering its own systems to prevent the infection of virtual machines. This is a new area of concern that we should hear more about as apps scale on virtual platforms such as what VMware is now providing.
VMware is extending its capabilities. Virtual machines are becoming a dominant part of the enterprise landscape. It is a logical time for VMware to be as ambitious as it is - even though it does have a few definite blind spots.
The VMware hypervisor can not be extended to different cloud platforms such as OpenStack and other competing providers. Citrix Systems, which today made its own acquisition, has an opening to extend Xen for companies seeking to use an open-cloud infrastructure.
The difference for customers will come down to trust. And of course there's the price factor. VMware has brought its prices down and has even started offering models that are based on the usage of virtual machines, a concept borrowed from the world of the cloud.
We'll see how this ambitious plan turns out. But if you were Microsoft, would you be worried?