Are virtualization vendors guilty of doing the opposite?
I posed this question to David Mitchell Smith, a VP and Fellow at the research firm Gartner. I think part of the problem is simple semantics, Smith said. No two people using the term cloud mean the same thing. Is it an internal cloud, which virtualization vendors are capitalizing on? Or is it the public cloud, which isnt at all dependent on virtualization?
Smith argues that virtualization vendors are much better at typical enterprise IT internal clouds than with public clouds. In fact, most public clouds arent even using virtualization today. If you ask Salesforce.com if they plan to adopt virtualization, theyll say no. They built out their infrastructure before virtualization came along, and they arent going to change it, Smith said.
According to with Bob Waldie, CEO of Opengear, the typical enterprise is worried about much more mundane things than creating new computing models. Our experience is that most organizations arent planning for virtualization as part of a cloud or SaaS vision, he said.
Opengear, an infrastructure management provider, works with its customers to manage virtualization in multi-vendor environments. The driver is still cost, Waldie said. Virtualization is a great cost management tool. With server consolidation, you manage more than server costs. You maximize floor space and power consumption. You limit the need for air conditioning. These are things a business can quantify.
Its much harder to quantify the benefits of switching to cloud computing or SaaS.
Where Are All These Cloud Anyway?
Citrix believes that it has the answer. While Citrix doesnt generate the press of a VMware or Microsoft, the company has been quietly building up its virtualization arsenal. With the acquisition of XenWorks, they should be considered a serious player. You wont find VMware in the cloud, argued Simon Crosby, CTO of the Citrix virtualization and management division. You will find us. The whole notion of cloud computing is being driven by Xen.
That may be an overstatement, but Crosby has a point. A major cloud computing success story, Amazon Web Services, built out its offering on Xen. If virtualization is to serve as an enabling technology, it has to start somewhere, and that start is a success story for Citrix.
Primarily what Amazon is offering is lower-level things like EC2 [Elastic Compute Cloud] and S3 [Simple Storage Service], which for all intents and purposes are really just virtualization, Gartners Smith said. They [Amazon] are the example of virtualization in the cloud. Others are not.
However, Crosby was cautious about over-hyping the reality. Today, most of the applications going up into big public clouds are pretty stateless. Theyre Web front-ends and what have you. Enterprise applications arent there yet, he said.
For now, concerns about security, business continuity and regulatory compliance are big roadblocks for the enterprise which points us back towards internal clouds.
Turning Back Inside
Within the enterprise, Citrix and a slew of other virtualization vendors is honing in not on internal clouds, per se, but on the specific use case of desktop virtualization coupled with application delivery.