4 min read

Virtually there

VMware's partner chief says virtualization is easy when you look at the competitive landscape

Virtualization is arguably one of the hottest markets in IT right now, and the 10,000 attendees that packed San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center for this year’s VMworld are proof of that.

Brian Byun, vice-president of Global Partners and Solutions at VMware, heads the company’s strategic alliances, corporate development and ecosystem development teams, in addition to being in charge of OEM, IHV and ISV partnerships. With almost 20 years of experience, Byun has worked in delivering and marketing enterprise server and storage solutions, application middleware and Internet security software.

CDN had a chance to sit down with Byun at the conference to talk about VMworld’s success, VMware’s new products, and the state of the virtualization industry.

CDN: How surprised are you at the size of this year’s conference?

Brian Byun: We’re excited about the size of the conference; it’s been an historical doubling of our growth rate from the San Diego conference, so we were expecting growth. So, from a numbers standpoint I’m not surprised. But from seeing the energy level from the number of attendees and vendors, it has quite an impact.

CDN: In your opinion, what are the most interesting VMware announcements from this show?

B.B.: For me, the most interesting announcement that we did was around the ESX Server 3i. VMware’s point of view is that virtualization is the future capability of the hardware. And because technically we are the only ones that have been able to make this very thin, light, hypervisor that can be put into hardware and isn’t attached to any particular flavour of operating system, we believe that this product is ideal for hardware integrated virtualization. And the fact is that all of our major system partners, HP, IBM, Dell, NEC, Fujitsu are intending to deliver this with their systems. The reason that’s interesting and impactful is it goes to the view that virtualization is a feature of the hardware, not necessarily a capability of an operating system. There’s been great growth in the virtualization industry. From a VMware perspective, we want to make our virtualization very easy to consume and very easy to start. Getting new virtualization up and running within a matter of a couple minutes with very little skills and little thought is a big thing to make this consumable.

CDN: Many of the products that I’ve seen at the show seem to focus on ease-of-use as a selling point. Is that an attempt to appeal to users who’ve only started hearing about virtualization very recently?

B.B.: Yeah, that’s what ESX Server 3i is really about. Another product is the VMware Site Recovery Manager, which is a new product that is supposed to simplify disaster recovery. This is something that’s very complex, (and is) done for the most mission critical apps generally. We’re trying to make it more simplified. In the old days, if you wanted to do disaster recovery, you’d have to shut down the data centre and would need to go and test it. Just the process of testing is hard. But, in a virtual world, the great thing is you can say, ‘give me a slice of the 50 servers that are there and let me go shoot my copied applications and disk files over to the other side.’ Plus, there’s no hardware to change or buy. So, that’s the kind of simplicity we’re trying to bring and that will hopefully grow the market. It’s aimed at a set of users that have learned about virtualization, but they haven’t thought about how it can solve their problems in a dramatic way. And that’s very important as lots of businesses that are being forced to put in business continuity plans and disaster plans.

CDN: Why do you think that companies like Dell, IBM, and AMD are so quick to jump on board with VMware on many of these products?

B.B.: Well, I’d say it hasn’t been quick. We’d been working with them for a number of years, with IBM back since 2002. These companies understand what this does. The common thing that people always ask me is, ‘why would the server vendors and the system vendors like you, because you deal with server consolidation and that reduces the number of servers they sell?’ The reality is the vendors make just as much, if not better money, by selling virtualization. The reason is that they can sell more expensive systems, more memory, which generally people understand to be more profitable. So these companies are getting on the virtualization bandwagon because it helps drive a refresh and they can sell more hardware and software on top of that, as well as new storage solutions. So, we saved the customers’ money in one space, but they are also spending in other spaces like disaster recovery, so that’s why our hardware partners are very interested.

CDN: We’ve seen a lot of acquisitions in this space lately, with the big one being the Citrix-XenSource deal. How is this changing VMware’s strategy?

B.B.: The Citrix-XenSource acquisition really doesn’t change our strategy. We’ve been focused on making this base virtualization broadly available and usable, so we’ve done that with the ESX Server 3i announcement. A lot of our customers are buying this full virtual infrastructure, so it’s not about how do I slice and dice a single box into smaller virtual servers, it’s about taking industry standard systems and storage and looking at it as a pool of servers and storage and then dragging and dropping workloads on it and making them highly available. What I’d say to the Citrix-XenSource acquisition is that they’re trying to invest in things that we’ve already done. We welcome the choice in competition, but we’re going to be focused on customer value.