This week, VMware opened its VMware Ready logo program to third-party applications and middleware. In a perfect world, this extension of the program will enable IT buyers to determine at a glance whether the software is tested and supported in VMware environments.
The prospect of VMware Ready software appeals to IT managers. "I think it would certainly be helpful, in that it shows that it definitely works," said an IT analyst at a large Northeast-based entertainment firm. "Sometimes there's a lot of red tape" in getting a vendor to support their wares under VMware. With the extension of the program, he said, "You know there are no gotchas."
Having said that, VMware Ready software is hardly a game changer, he acknowledged "There's validity to it, but [its absence] wouldn't stop me from using something that isn't VMware Ready," he added.VMware-supported applications on the rise
To date, the VMware Ready logo has been available for operating systems and hardware that VMware has tested against, including servers, storage, and I/O devices on VMware's hardware compatibility list (HCL). Customers that see the VMware Ready logo understand that the device is on VMware's HCL, so they don't have to go and check for themselves, said Parag Patel, VMware vice president of alliances.
At the same time, VMware knows that there are at least 900 independent software vendors (ISVs) "that we know about" that maintain support agreements for their applications running on top of VMware, said Patel. Giving those ISVs access to the VMware Ready logo will offer them an easy way to advertise that their app works on top of VMware.
But even though 900 may sound like a lot, it's a drop in the bucket compared with how many ISVs there are in the world. Patel says that estimates range anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 ISVs worldwide.
Whatever the case, ISV support for VMware appears to be on the upswing. In 2007, VMware had only 170 supported applications, compared with the 900 today, and VMware says it adds between 25 and 50 new apps every month. Likewise, VMware users report getting less pushback from their software vendors than they did in the past.
When it comes to vendor support, "I've generally had really good luck," said Ryan Makamson, systems engineer at the Washington State University School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "Most stuff is supported, and a lot of it is even available as a virtual appliance."
The dividing line between ISVs that do and don't support their apps in a virtual environment is likely a matter of size and whether they cater to a vertical market, said Gary Chen, the research manager for enterprise virtualization software at IDC.
"By now, most mainstream and off-the-shelf applications support virtualization, with Oracle being singled out as one of the last remaining big ones [not to support VMware]," he said. "But a lot of the specialized and vertically focused apps are pretty far behind."
Niche ISVs might not yet support virtualization because they are small, conservative, or in a regulated industry, Chen said. "Technically, most of this stuff runs just fine, it's just a question of whether the ISV supports it or not."
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