With the news that VMware is reducing their line of vSphere offers, and the fact that they now consider vSphere as a non-strategic product, I was thinking about what the future holds for VMware.
Please take this with caution, I am fully aware that vSphere is the leading hypervisor in the market with a huge installed base. I would dare to say that vSphere is to VMware what Windows is to Microsoft. But looking at the parallel with Microsoft, and if vSphere is no longer a strategic product, what the future holds for VMware?
I have had this thought-provoking flash of a line of hypervisor-agnostic VMware products. That sounds crazy indeed. On the other hand, why not? NSX is already partially hypervisor agnostic. What products could become hypervisor agnostic and what would it mean for VMware? I keep thinking about parallels with Microsoft. Specifically, how Microsoft has transitioned from a closed ecosystem to a software provider that publishes successful products on all platforms (and also in the mobile space).
The ability to manage multiple hypervisor platforms (a feat achieved by Nutanix Acropolis) would give VMware the ability to provide a mature product to platforms where management has not always been the best feature.
Can you imagine vROps monitoring your entire infrastructure from a true single pane of glass? No VMware, Hyper-V, KVM silos? Less complexities for administrators, less work to aggregate and correlate data?
This is not the product I know the best, but from what I was able to read, this may be the foundation of what VMware might be looking like in a few years. With full multi-platform support vRealize could become the de facto orchestration and automatization tool in the industry.
Due to its tight integration with the ESXi kernel, one may wonder how VMware may achieve to decouple VSAN from the hypervisor. But thinking about it at the cost of a partial rewrite of the code, VMware could leverage their object-based HCI solution and allow it to be delivered regardless of the hypervisor platform. With the EMC-DELL-VMware federation and the hints that VCE will leverage VSAN 6.2 on their new offerings, serious thoughts may be put into delivering an hyper-converged solution that is not dependent on a single hypervisor.
Becoming agnostic would open doors to VMware and would even allow them to drive growth and adoption of their solution by cutting the underlying infrastructure costs of vSphere licenses. Is it better to lose your project to competitors because of vSphere, or to generate cash solely based on your product?
What about vSphere?
That is a though one. One one hand I can’t imagine a world without vSphere, on another hand what VMware did is to democratize the hypervisor and made it become a commodity product that is the foundation of modern data centers.Most of the VMware customers around the world already have licenses. They just pay for SnS, and eventually purchase more licenses as they require. Or leverage ELAs. I’m not even touching the topic of workloads being moved to cloud providers. Nowadays tools exist to allow for the seamless conversion of a workload from one hypervisor to another one. Dev/Test workloads may purposely run on KVM or Hyper-V to achieve costs savings. In essence, while profitable, the hypervisor market may no longer be the revenue generator that it used to be.
Just like Windows, VMware could keep releasing vSphere as the foundation of its product line, but just as a sort of « standard offering », another approach would be to open the source code and transfer the hypervisor to a community-driven model and move to a support subscription fee, something à la Redhat. Or have a baseline of features for free and require activation for the top tier features (standard free vs enterprise plus paid).
What does this means for IT professionals?
The herds of vSphere Administrators could not only continue learning and improving their vSphere skills but they would also benefit from being able to manage different platforms, learn more and open themselves to new opportunities.
And you, what are your thoughts?