Oct 192011

Skimming thru the day’s technology’s articles, I came across this one.  It is a interview with Drew Houston, one of the founders of Dropbox.  Dropbox is a great piece of software that lets you share files in the cloud across all of your devices.  I was interested to read that Steve Jobs and Apple had met to discuss Apple acquiring Dropbox for 800 million.  When Dropbox declined the offer, according to the article, Houston recalls the response from Steve Jobs: “He said we were a feature and not a product.”

This statement sounded somewhat familiar to me, somewhere I had heard this before.  I did some digging and I found why this rang such a bell.  Flash back four and a half years ago.  I remembered this article from the NY Times in February of 2007.  In it was an introduction to a little company called VMware.  It describes this little company and how it was taking on the Goliath Microsoft.  My favorite part was a quote in the article from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer who said: “Our view is that virtualization is something that should be built into the operating system.”  Essentially, virtualization is a feature and not a product.  Funny how times change.  VMware, who was selling a “feature,” just yesterday reported revenue of $941.9 million for the just-ended third quarter.  Vmware is projecting Q4 revenue to be between 1.03 and 1.06 billion.  Not bad for a “feature.”

In this day and age Apple is the Goliath and the biggest kid on the block.

Dropbox, only yesterday, scored $250 million in funding and appears to be growing well.

It amazes me sometimes how what comes around, goes around.  Never underestimate the power of a competitor and the “feature” they might be selling.  Who knows where Dropbox might be 4 years from now.  Maybe they are the next VMware.

Jan 282011

Finally, some action in 2011.  Today it was announced that Verizon will purchase Miami-based Terremark for 1.4 billion.  This is an excellent play for Verizon since Terremark is well positioned and a solid, but not crazy, buy.  You may remember that in 2009 VMware spent 20 million on a 5% stake in Terremark.  I got the feeling, at the time, that VMware wanted a part of the public cloud space and they also wanted a little control on how the business develops and gets delivered .  Now with those shares being bought out by Verizon, it will be interesting to see what control VMware has on the new Verizon subsidiary.  I would not be surprised to see VMware announce an investment in Savvis or Rackspace in the coming months.  VMware received a nice return on investment having bought their shares in Terremark at $5 a piece.  Verizon is paying $19 per share to buy Terremark.  That should nab VMware a nice check somewhere around $76 million.  Pretty good return on less than a 24 month investment.  I would be very surprised if they did not use that to invest in another cloud provider real soon.  What are your thoughts?

Aug 092010

Coming to a city near you!  A week ago I was fortunate enough to catch the VMware Tour bus at it’s stop at the Tampa VMUG meeting this month.  If you get the chance to see it, it is quite a cool piece of hardware. Side ViewPainted red with the VMware logos stamped all over it, this truck was custom built for vmware.  The cab is a Peterbuilt with some modified hardware.  The cab is extended and contains a satellite TV for the drivers (when they are not driving the rig – obviously).  The trailer housing the mobile datacenter, is an extended version (like the moving companies use) but the driver told me that it was not a conversion, it was built in Kentucky specifically for VMware by Kentucky Trailers.  The side of the trailer opens up and has a retractable awning.  There are two flat screen TVs mounted inside the two openings on the trailer.  This is so the engineers can give presentations and show slides from the side of the truck.  The truck carries round tables and seating for over 50 people if need be.  Directly behind the cab is a 10,000 watt generator that can fully power the truck for demos(seen below). Continue reading »

May 282010

This week I had the luxury of attending the three-day vSphere: Design Workshop in Orlando, FL.  The class is now a requirement for VMware Enterprise Partners which was the reason for my attendance.  The class had about 15 attendees comprised of partners, customers and VMware employees.  There are no formal prerequisites for the course although I would highly recommend a VCP4 as some of the topics and recommendations get very technical and that level of experience would be very helpful.  This class is intended for those that will be designing virtual datacenters.  It is directly related to the newly-announced VCAP4-DCD certification and I would also recommend it for any one considering the VCDX certification.

The class was comprised of eight modules.  Day one ran through modules one thru four, day two had modules 5 and 6 and day three was comprised of modules seven and eight.  You can read this to see the syllabus for the class as well as the description for each of the modules.

There were a two things about this class that I found to be very different than any other VMware class I had attended.  First, there was no real administrative work.  We never used the vSphere client or looked at a host.  We barely used the classroom terminals at all.  Almost all of the work was whiteboarding and drawing architectures of networks and storage and physical infrastructure.  For the labs, the class was divided into two groups, one group was given an enterprise customer case study and the other received a SMB case study.  Both study’s had physical environments that wanted to virtualize.  The enterprise study was obviously significantly larger however the SMB had a very limited budget.  Both had items to challenge the designers.  As we reached the end of each module, we would incorporate what we learned into that phase of the design.  The labs were actually designed very well.  At the end of each lab session, each group had to pick someone to defend their design to the rest of the class (surely to prep us for what we might find at the VCDX defense session).

The second thing I noticed about the class that was very different from other classes was the references to blogger’s information.  The instructor referenced Duncan, Frank and Mike on more than one occasion (The VMguy was left out unfortunately – guess I’ll have to try harder).  Never had I seen such a display of non-vmware owned information in such a class.  Personally, I read all of their information pretty religiously yet I still found things I did not know or had not read.  This class was a very good summary of the pitfalls to avoid in design.  It was a collaboration of all of the gotchas that these designers (some who are now VCDXs) have seen.  Everything from the configuration maximums to what features are not supported with Fault Tolerance.  It was an outstanding display of all the things you have to remember when designing an entire virtualized datacenter.

My only complaint would be that the case study notes for the labs were incomplete.  We constantly found ourselves wanting to ask our imaginary customer for more information.  This can be expected somewhat as the class is a new offering from the education department.  I must say that our instructor was constantly requesting feedback for the course and promised to relay that information back to the class designers.

All in all, I would highly recommend this class to anyone who might need to design a virtualized datacenter.  It was an outstanding collaboration of experiences and best practices that would be required before creating a accurate, reliable, properly sized, well thought-out design.  Well done VMware Education Department, well done.

Jan 132010

I’m usually not a very controversial writer but this point has been bugging me today.  We’ve all heard about the VMware-Cisco-EMC alliance and how they have begun selling their vBlocks.  Let not forget Oracle’s acquision of Sun (which I read referred to as Sunacle – hilarious).  Sunacle will be able to sell hardware and a lot of software combined.  Now, just today, I read an article about Microsoft teaming with HP to build unified solutions for datacenters.  Solutions with servers, networking, storage and, of course, Microsoft software.  I definitely think there are some advantages to this.  From a support standpoint, all of these solutions will be rock solid.  All of the hardware and software in use is known by the support staff.  This removes a vast number of variables that we introduce when we architect our own solutions in our datacenters.  They will be much easier to troubleshoot and should be more reliable overall.

But what if we want to change our vendor?  Many of us have done this in the past.  Ever changed your storage vendor?  Ever change your server hardware vendor?  Many of us know the pains involved to do so.  We have to learn new tools, new ways of configuring, monitoring and managing our infrastructure.  We may have to migrate applications or data to the new pieces of the datacenter.  This can be quite an undertaking requiring some dedicated project management, months of implementation work and hours of staff training.  All of that if you chose a new vendor for your infrastructure.  Now, what if you had to replace your storage, networking, server and virtualization vendor all at the same time?  What would that project look like?  Would you do it?

If Microsoft and HP decide to release Hyper-Cells (or whatever they may call them).  What if I decide I don’t like HP storage?  What options do I have then?  If I change the storage, is the rest of the solution supported?  What if I decide I don’t like any of it?  Will I still be free to choose the pieces of my infrastructure that I want?

I think the unified solutions have some great benefits to them.  I’m just not sure I’m ready for that kind of commitment…