By Mike Laverick, Instructor, Author and Blogger
This series outlines VMware's standing in the evolving cloud computing market, its strategy and the challenges it faces. The previous sections covered VMware's road to the cloud, how VMware management software wasn't initially designed for cloud computing and cloud adoption challenges. This installment focuses on VMware vCloud Director the future of cloud computing products.
At recent VMware user group meeting, a member voiced his skepticism about VMware vCloud Director. Because it's a 1.0 product, he said he'd wait for the 1.5 or 2.0 release.
I sighed deeply. If people think that cloud computing will be delivered as a shrink-wrapped product, they don't understand what it's all about, and they might as well wait for VMware vCloud Director 9.0.
Cloud computing products such as vCloud Director provide an additional layer of abstraction above the virtualization layer, and that has benefits for large, corporate enterprises. But smaller organizations will view this layer of abstraction as another layer of complexity. For small and medium-sized businesses, these new products introduce new objects and relationships that are often too much to handle -- especially for organizations that are struggling with virtualization.
The future of cloud computing
I tell my customers that the cloud isn't a journey or a destination, but an aspiration. It's a big-picture goal that will take a decade or more to achieve. It's a big move, comparable to the shift from mainframes to the x86 client/server model.
Cloud computing won't completely supplant these other models. Rather, it will complement them. A critical step is to increase the virtual-machine-to-physical-machine ratio, so a business reaches the point where the cloud isn't an abstract aspiration, but a concrete opportunity.
But the cloud is more than just virtualization (although I've noticed that some companies have quickly rebranded their virtualization products as cloud technologies). Merely rebranding a virtual infrastructure doesn't make it a cloud.
The cloud introduces new features, such as self-service provisioning, chargeback, showback, multi-tenancy, quotas and limits. If your infrastructure doesn't have these attributes, you don't have a cloud.
It's important to remember that VMware vCloud Director is not the only horse in the race. There are plenty of other products that offer these features and an
interface with vSphere (and other platforms). It's worth assessing these systems alongside VMware vCloud Director.
The journey to the cloud is similar to the space program, which involved the collective will of multiple agencies, all working toward a common goal. No organization could possibly take all the credit for the project, and no individual could possibly understand the technical minutiae of every part of the program.
Right now, a brave few are experimenting with various prototypes that will get them out of earth's orbit. The next steps will be geo-stationary orbit and circumnavigating the destination. At some stage, a "cloud landing" will be attempted.
Currently, the cloud remains a an amorphous aspiration. It's difficult to see the cloud taking off when many organizations are less than 50% virtualized. Right now, the cloud is like virtualization a decade ago, when it was unclear in which direction virtualization would go.
In time, we will see more businesses adopt the cloud, and those real-world models will show us the cloud's true challenges. Right now, though, for most, the cloud feels like pie in the sky.
Mike Laverick (VCP) has been involved with the VMware community since 2003. Laverick is a VMware forum moderator and member of the London VMware User Group Steering Committee. Laverick is the owner and author of the virtualization website and blog RTFM Education, where he publishes free guides and utilities aimed at VMware ESX/VirtualCenter users, and has recently joined SearchVMware.com as an Editor at Large. In 2009, Laverick received the VMware vExpert award and helped found the Irish and Scottish VMware user groups. Laverick has had books published on VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, VMware vSphere4 and VMware Site Recovery Manager.