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Users to VMware: Stick to your knitting

VMware keeps making acquisitions, but some users wish the company would get back to developing the hypervisor and virtualization management tools.

VMware has made a slew of acquisitions in application delivery and recently concentrated on end-user computing, but users hope it focuses more on its core server virtualization products.

Little of what VMware has acquired of late ties in directly with its server virtualization business. It has been collecting companies specializing in application delivery, beginning with its acquisition of Zimbra last year. This spring, VMware added Socialcast, a social collaboration platform, SlideRocket, a hosted presentation software provider, and Mozy, an online backup service previously owned by parent company EMC Corp.

Two other VMware acquisitions this year include IT financial and business management Software as a Service specialist Digital Fuel and user access management player PacketMotion. But the type of chargeback Digital Fuel offers is years out for most enterprises, and the extent of PacketMotion’s appeal also remains unclear.

Is VMware losing focus?
The thinking behind the application-focused acquisitions puzzles users, but the company clarified its strategy somewhat at VMworld 2011. VMware previewed projects such as Octopus, which uses sync technologies from Mozy and Zimbra to create a data-sharing service, and made a lot of noise about end-user computing products such as the Mobile Virtualization Platform (MVP) at the show.

Still, some users are turned off by the attention to mobile app delivery.

“I really don’t see a use case for [MVP],” said Ed Czerwin, a systems engineer for a large medical devices company near Zurich, Switzerland. The platform doesn’t support multi-SIM, so two virtualized phones still have to use the same phone number, he said. “To some degree, I think they pushed it out early just to be the first, when it’s not 100% ready for the mainstream.”

There is also growing concern that VMware may be spreading itself too thin.

“I have mixed feelings about VMware trying to become the lone provider for what many companies are specializing in and doing very well at,” said Matt Vogt, senior systems administrator at Fuller Theological Seminary. “It will be hard for them to…avoid becoming a mile wide and an inch deep.”

With VMware trying to be everything to everyone, “another thing that worries me is vendor lock-in,” Vogt added. “What happens when vSphere is no longer the platform du jour? Many other products can be moved over to monitor other hypervisors.”

Wanted: Tighter integration
Some users would like to see VMware polish the integration between products already in its portfolio.

“When they make an acquisition, we want to know that VMware can fully integrate the solution of the company they bought and not have extra management interfaces for new software that they put out there,” said Stephen Kiser, a VMware systems administrator at a utility in the Southwest. “If VMware wants to continue to put out [products like] vCenter Operations and other management frameworks, they should all tie back in with vCenter…so we have one place to go to manage our environments.”

Users working on private cloud deployment with vCloud Director also say they’d like to see VMware better integrate workflow tools (which could come from vCenter Orchestrator) into the process.

The initial setup of resources through vCloud Director is one thing, according to Christian Metz, a systems administrator at a Fortune 300 insurance company. But when more resources need to be added, “what you have to do then is re-engage through some kind of third-party workflow process…to then go procure and install and rack and spin up [a] new host. I thought personally that was a huge, major lacking component in the whole cloud offering through VMware.”

“I think the vCenter Operations Suite (Operations Manager, CapacityIQ and vCenter Configuration Manager) will all merge from a suite to more of a single product,” wrote Mark Vaughn, an IT consultant and vExpert, in an email. “Configuration Manager manages physical and virtual assets, and I think that more of their tools will need to do that.”

Eye on the server virtualization prize
VMware can also improve its server virtualization management offerings with the right acquisitions, users said.

“If they’re going to acquire something in the server side, it needs to be something to do with monitoring,” said Bill Hill, infrastructure IT lead for a Portland, Ore.-based logistics company. “I think Xangati, for example, is a great [candidate] for being purchased.”

Maish Saidel-Keesing, a virtualization architect for a technology company in Israel, wondered whether HyTrust, which provides access control management for vCenter, might also be a good fit. “That is a company which is going to be bought out by somebody else, for sure. The question is who.”

Beth Pariseau is a senior news writer for Write to her at

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