VMware gives peek at workspace in a cloud

SAN FRANCISCO — A preview of the alpha version of VMware’s Horizon Suite, a platform that will offer a corporate workspace in the cloud, was the highlight of the second day of this year’s annual VMworld conference here.

Horizon Suite is a platform that combines identity, context and policy to separate personal and business workspaces, allowing consistent access to application and data across any personal device — meant to deal with the challenges of mobility, cloud and BYOD.

The new suite is based on an updated version of the VMware vSphere 5.1 virtualization platform and will be licensed per processor with no core, vRAM or number of VM limits.

According to VMware chief marketing officer Rick Jackson, the company has built more than 100 private clouds working through 8,500 service providers worldwide. Those partners are licensing VMware technology through a subscription model and reselling services using public cloud infrastructure; the bulk are small, localized, regional providers.

This is a huge services play for partners, said Douglas Smith, vice-president of global partner strategy and operations with VMware Inc. “It’s a great services engagement,” he said. “Going into Q4 it forces a conversation. Long-term it’s a better licensing and packaging model, a more inclusive product set.” While the bulk of opportunities for partners are still around the data centre and virtualization, he said it’s also a first step to moving workloads into the public cloud.

And with the consumerization of IT, the focus for partners is also going to shift. “There’s a huge opportunity for partners around authentication, security and app provisioning,” said Smith.

“The No. 1 thing I was looking for (at the show) was understanding how clients can leverage cloud within our data centre,” said Michael Cardy, global chief technology officer of Thornhill, Ont.-based OnX Enterprise Solutions. “We’ve placed big bets on VMware’s cloud.”

Much of OnX’s client base consists of large American enterprises, as well as a major player in Canada, across all verticals. The solution provider offers traditional and cloud-based solutions, including SaaS offerings based on VMware Zimbra (an enterprise-class email, calendar and collaboration solution for public and private clouds).

Cardy is also interested in desktop as a service and virtualization across end-points such as tablets. Looking ahead, he’s aiming to put a framework in place to help clients maximize the opportunities of cloud, both on and off premise.

He’s glad to see that VMware killed the vRAM licencing model, announced Monday . “I talked to about 75 customers last night and they were like, ‘thank goodness,’” he said. Getting rid of vRAM could also have some financial benefits, he added, since clients will “be able to create virtual infrastructure that better meets their needs at a price point they’re willing to accept, rather than doing unnatural things to meet the licensing boundaries that were imposed by vRAM.”

The technology behind cloud is pretty straightforward, said Cardy, adding that it’s the back-end processes that can cause challenges. “I’ve got the scars from deploying big clouds,” he said. VMware’s vision of getting rid of silos within IT and creating one virtual data centre is appealing, he said, but “we’ll see if we realize that.”

As for VMware’s vCloud Suite, Cardy is taking a “wait and see” approach, but he thinks it will be easier to connect with other cloud service providers and is looking at building more formal partnerships.

Nineteen per cent of VMware’s clients have moved to the cloud worldwide, said Michelle Warren, principal analyst at MW Research & Consulting in Toronto. “But that number would be substantially less in Canada. That means there’s a double-digit opportunity for VMware partners to help bring the cloud to Canadian businesses,” she said.

But the solutions have to be smaller than what VMware [NYSE:VMW]  is offering, she added, such as “cloud in a box” or “data centre in a box” solutions that might be more attractive to smaller companies.

At the show, VMware announced new vSphere 5.1 solutions to help small and midsize businesses with virtualization, business continuity and automated management. “It’s great they’re doing that,” said Warren, “but generally speaking in the States an SMB is up to 999 employees.” The way an SMB is defined in Canada is much different — and much smaller. “It’s hardly apples to apples.”


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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