Virtualization technology continues to mature and vendors are taking strides to make the technology easier to deploy on a variety of devices – and to keep costs under control.

Those are my big takeaways from VMworld 2012, which wraps up today in San Francisco. While I can’t say we saw any earth-shattering announcements at the event, we did see VMware fulfill some promises it made last year and address some lingering customer issues.

One such issue, as always, is cost. VMware caught lots of flak last year when it changed the pricing scheme for vSphere, charging users based on how much “virtual memory,” or vRAM, their installations required. Up till then, customers were accustomed to buying big, honking servers with lots of memory and loading them up with as many virtual machines as they could. With the vRAM scheme, VMware put the brakes on that strategy, telling users they had to pay based on how much vRAM they used. Customers, of course, were not happy.

To its credit, VMware reversed course. New CEO Pat Gelsinger told the crowd that the company heard their cry of “change your pricing” and was striking the term “vRAM” from its vocabulary. That is a significant move that will help customers control costs in a couple of ways. They will not only pay less for vSphere licenses (in most cases), but using a few big servers instead of lots of smaller ones will help reduce energy bills.

Cost has been a particularly thorny issue with respect to desktop virtualization. Customers have been having a difficult time making the business case for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) because, when you add up the cost of end devices, servers, software and storage, it often comes out to more than you’d have to spend on a new desktop. (That, of course, ignores the cost savings and increased security you get from the centralized management that VDI brings, but that’s another issue.)

So it was good to see Atlantis Computing, Inc. take home the Best of VMworld 2012 award in the desktop virtualization category for its ILIO Diskless VDI product. As TechTarget (the awards co-sponsor) reports:

“This product won because it addresses the most complex and expensive elements of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environments: storage. ‘Atlantis’s diskless VDI is one of the truly revolutionary technologies in a world full of vendors who all claim their products are revolutionary,’ the judges said.”

ILIO optimizes all the IO requests between from client machines and storage systems and performs data deduplication to reduce storage requirements. The results are quite dramatic, reducing storage requirements by upwards of 90%, according to one Atlantis partner. With that kind of reduction, the business case for VDI becomes much more attractive.

On the simplicity front, VMware announced a pair of software suites – vCloud Suite and Horizon Suite – that it says will make it easier to deploy cloud-enabled data centers and deliver applications to a mobile workforce, respectively. Each comes with all the software customers need to do the intended job, obviating the need to purchase and install multiple point solutions.

For the most part, the suites are really just a repackaging of existing products, although VMware did deliver some new software. One example is Horizon Mobile, which VMware first introduced at last year’s event. It essentially creates a virtual machine on a mobile device in which users run corporate applications. That effectively separates work from personal data and lets IT apply policies to the corporate portion to properly secure it. In a BYOD world, that’s an important capability.

All in all, though, the suites really represent the evolution of virtualization technology. When a company has so many products in a given category that it can package them up and call it a suite, it’s a sign of a maturing market space.

We saw the same sort of thing happen many years ago in areas such as network management, when HP wrapped up a bunch of point solutions into its OpenView platform, which has been expanding ever since. OpenView really did simplify life for network managers, enabling them to manage all sorts of network devices from a single pane of glass. It strikes me that virtualization technology is on much the same trajectory.

Tags: , , , ,