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Desktop Virtualization Trends at Gartner Data Center

          At the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas last week I asked several polling questions regarding desktop virtualization adoption plans and trends, and thought that they were worth sharing. Note that the poll was taken in my session on “Desktop Virtualization: Tales from the Trenches,” so the audience was already at least considering the technology. The first question I asked was regarding business drivers.                 As you can see above, the majority of respondents wanted to use the technology to reduce TCO, while giving users a “Follow-me desktop” was a close second. We have multiple clients that have been able to reduce TCO 10% or higher, so the expectations are legitimate. The next polling question looked at virtual desktop adoption goals.                 Note that 11-30% seemed to be the sweet spot, while other organizations had more aggressive targets, and some had less. We talk to many clients that are using virtual desktops for a variety of use cases, so the range of answers was expected. Some healthcare organizations see the technology reaching the majority of their doctors and clinicians. Other verticals are using virtual desktops for remote worker and remote office support. In fact, I spoke to several clients at the conference who were expanding to Eastern Europe and the Asia Pacific regions. They didn’t want to hire any IT staff to manage the remote offices, so the virtual desktop was a sound investment for them. I often get asked about virtual desktop vendor preferences and the survey respondents pointed to a near even split between Citrix and VMware, along with growing interest in Microsoft.                 We still see Citrix having a slight edge among Gartner clients that we speak with each day; however, Citrix should take note of the poll response that several organizations see VMware as a capable alternative. Note that the poll sample was from 105 conference attendees. The last question that I had asked was about storage preferences. This question was a little more involved and about half of the poll participants responded to this one.                         Attendees could select multiple options, and while the enterprise storage array features were expected, the interest in the native hypervisor features such as IntelliCache and View Accelerator was a bit of a surprise. However, virtual desktops are capex-sensitive and when native platform technologies can be used, it’s a logical first option. Still, oftentimes specialized storage is closely evaluated by organizations looking to reduce their storage...

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Standardization ADD: We are all Hypocrites

Standardization Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or (SADD): (n) A condition in which one professes to support standardization, yet can’t help but be distracted by the newest, shiniest object – Opex costs be damned. I’m a hypocrite. There. I said it. It’s almost therapeutic. Are you one too? Here’s how I see it. We are all taking part in a great conspiracy. Many of us are both victors and victims in this circular history that we can’t help but repeat. End user organizations are spending way too much on IT services, and we are all at fault. Why? Let’s start with complexity. Every management vendor wants complexity. The more complex the environment, the more software and professional services they can sell. Hardware vendors? Ditto. Startups challenging incumbents? You got it. If you standardized you wouldn’t buy their products and they’d be out of business. Again – the newest, shiniest object is better than what you already have. And it’s cheaper! What’s not to love? IT pros generally like complexity at times because it lets us flex our intellectual muscle and show our value. Consultants and analysts? Check and check. Complexity equates to a greater need for advisory services. Are we all a part of one of the greatest con jobs in history? Sometimes it feels that way. We can always find a “business reason” to make things harder than they need be. Or maybe we’re the victims? We’re being duped by a community that professes the values of standardization but on the other hand goes at length to justify anything but standardized approaches to IT challenges. Many of us suffer from SADD. So how on earth can a highly standardized approach to delivering IT services hold our attention? If a lack of standardization costs the business more money long term, then so be it. We need to pit vendors against each other. Right? Group think often implies that it’s a better strategy. But who is it really better for? Vendors? Consultants? Analysts? The IT department? How often do we ever wonder if it’s best for the business? I’d argue not nearly enough. After all, in the quest to save 10-20% on one solution, what are you paying for new consulting, advisory services, and management products to deal with the added complexity? A few years ago I blogged about emerging cloud technologies and what I called “the Wal-Martification of IT,” stating: Think of public cloud providers as the neighborhood Wal-Mart. In many towns across the US, small businesses were swallowed by Wal-Mart. Many of these businesses were unwilling or unable to change their existing business processes or target markets in the wake of Wal-Mart’s entrance to their community....

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Hyper-V 3: A Windows Server 2003 Remix?

Remember the days of Windows NT Server? I was among the many who mocked it as a serious data center server operating system. Then came Windows 2000 Server, and perceptions began to change. With the release of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft turned the tide of server OS dominance in the data center, placing Microsoft on a path to where the majority of servers would run a Windows OS. What initially seemed like a pipe dream became reality, and I was among many who were wrong about Microsoft’s chances as a dominant server OS vendor. That takes us to last week’s Microsoft Build conference, where Microsoft demonstrated several significant feature enhancements coming to the next generation of Hyper-V. If you compare Hyper-V maturity to Windows Server OS maturity, this could be the equivalent to Windows Server 2003. Microsoft unveiled many new features that positions Hyper-V as a serious enterprise-grade virtualization platform. I was most impressed by the improved virtual switch architecture and extensibility features. For years, I had seen the lack of extensibility and monitoring capabilities in the Hyper-V virtual switch architecture as a barrier to supporting multitenant environments. While Hyper-V today can offer unicast isolation for traffic on shared virtual switches and support VLANs, it does not support any type of port spanning or promiscuous monitoring. That made it difficult to monitor and enforce network security in Hyper-V virtual networks, and have made the hypervisor ill-suited for some large enterprise and many cloud IaaS scenarios. Those barriers are removed in Windows 8. In addition to rich network monitoring and enforcement capabilities, Hyper-V’s extensible switch architecture opens the door for technology partners in the networking and security space to reside in the Hyper-V fabric. Cisco has already announced support for the Nexus 1000V on Windows 8 Hyper-V. I expect other leading players in the networking and security space to follow suit. Juniper, HP, Riverbed, and F5 are good candidates to also offer Hyper-V virtual network appliances. Citrix is already there (i.e., NetScaler VPX for Hyper-V). One other architectural element of significance is that virtual networking and security requirements are embedded in each Hyper-V VM’s metadata file. So prior to any live migration job, for example, a VM’s underlying third party dependencies are validated on a target host. Keeping relevant network and security metadata with the VM ensures that mobility constraints can always easily be validated before any migration job. These features are significant. Having an extensible network architecture, extensible VM metadata, and extensible management (i.e., via the System Center suite and third party integration) isn’t Microsoft following VMware. It’s leadership. I have communicated extensibility requirements to VMware for years, and I’m happy to see Microsoft stepping up and addressing...

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VMworld 2011: If Amazon is the Benchmark…

In a recent Gartner field search study, two early internal IaaS cloud adopters noted that if Amazon was the benchmark by which they are measured in terms of cost, then they had to make tough decisions regarding best-of-breed vs. good enough. In particular, the two clients cited whether deploying a third party virtual switch (i.e., Cisco Nexus 1000V) was absolutely necessary, especially if the cost made the internal cloud less competitive with Amazon. These organizations weren’t doing apple-to-oranges comparisons either. They came up with a per-VM cost broken down by both infrastructure and management/operations software. The cost of operational software was added to the Amazon cost to create an apples-to-apples comparison. Enterprises are having to make tough choices regarding virtualization technology and all associated infrastructure and management products. To deliver cloud services, the enterprise has to be able to provide services quickly, securely, and reliably. In other words, the cloud service should come with the expectation “that it just works.” That’s a tall order for increasingly complex data center infrastructures. At this point, you may be wondering what any of this has to do with VMworld. Let me explain. VMware made numerous data center and cloud related announcements at VMworld, including: New VMware vCloud® Offerings Accelerate Journey to the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud NetApp and VMware Help Transform IT, Make Cloud A Reality VMware Introduces New Platform for Enterprise Database as a Service VMware and Cisco Collaborate on Cloud Innovation Dell Announces Its First Public Cloud Offering; Dell Cloud With VMware vCloud® Datacenter Service Harris Corporation and VMware to Deliver Trusted Enterprise Cloud to Federal and Commercial Customers I’m not here to dissect all of the announcements. For good perspectives on the vCloud Connector and Global Connect announcements, take a look at Lydia Leong’s and Kyle Hilgendorf’s posts. That being said, I wanted to comment on the body of work. VMware’s vCloud web site lists a growing number of provider partners, and many VMware customers I speak to about hybrid cloud state concerns about the need for hypervisor parity. That’s because they include the hypervisor as part of the application QA processes. As a result, they see it as less costly to move a VM between the same hypervisor type. I had blogged about this subject before. Bottom line – for many enterprises seeking mobility between data centers and cloud, VMware has a home court advantage. Other providers (e.g., Amazon) maintain the advantage for applications deployed straight to the cloud, with the enterprise having no intention to pull them back in. VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy is quickly evolving, many customers are onboard with it, and at the same time, those customers are starting to question where they can save costs. Competitors such as...

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VMworld 2011: Dancing on Citrix’s Doorstep?

VMware recorded a pretty humorous video that was unveiled at this week’s VMworld North America conference. A few minutes into the music video, VMware folks are literally shown dancing on Citrix’s doorstep (outside the Citrix office in Santa Clara). While this could be taken as a simple competitive prank, multiple conversations I’ve had with VMware’s end user computing team led me to believe that the dance was more of a metaphor for VMware’s confidence in their product portfolio. At the Gartner Catalyst North America 2011 conference, VMware announced that View 5.0’s PCoIP protocol enhancements would reduce bandwidth by up to 75%. Citrix’s Tal Klein quickly responded with his own take. Gartner is reserving judgment on the noted improvements until we complete our own thorough analysis and speak with early adopters in the field. That being said, VMware is clearly trying to send Citrix a message. For the past couple of years, Citrix has had VMware on the defensive regarding endpoint clients and WAN support. Gartner’s own View 4.5 assessment also noted that View could not support the WAN requirements (e.g., >150 ms latency) common in many large enterprises. With View 5.0, VMware is taking a position that the last remaining holes in its architecture have been addressed: low bandwidth/high latency WAN support, and endpoint clients (e.g., iPad, Android, and Mac). I have been running View 5 in my lab for the past couple of weeks and have connected to my virtual desktop from my iPad at various locations and over various networks (e.g., conference Wi-Fi and AT&T 3G), and the performance has been solid. Desktop virtualization strategy requires more than a few checkboxes, and VMware clearly gets that too. In previous years, VMware had not done a good enough job of articulating a complete vision to prospective customers.Most organizations realize that investments in technologies like virtual desktops require long term commitments. So many organizations are not basing purchasing decisions exclusively on what is available today. VMware needed to better articulate its strategy and roadmap, and they did it at VMworld. The problem we are trying to solve is relatively straightforward – connect users to applications and data. However, we now have a lot more moving parts than we used to. Application delivery can come in many forms, including local installation, application virtualization, virtual desktops, server-based computing, and software-as-a-service (SaaS). In addition, user expectations have changed to where they expect to access applications and data from a variety of devices. So we’re no longer simply delivering applications to devices’; we’re delivering them to people. Inside Gartner, we often call this people centric computing. To many vendors in the space, this paradigm shift spells opportunity. Here’s another example, I recently talked with an IT...

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Catalyst 2011 User-Centric Computing Track Speaker Line-up

The speaker line-up for Catalyst 2011’s user-centric computing track has been finalized and I wanted to take a moment to share it with you. A prominent CTO has called Catalyst “the most intellectual conference in all of IT,” and if you haven’t attended Catalyst before, there are plenty of great reasons to get there this year. We have extensive coverage of server- and client-virtualization, cloud computing,and many other hot topics. The rundown of sessions in the user-centric computing track is listed below. I hope to see you there! Application Delivery in a People-Centric World Chris Wolf A common theme has emerged among many organizations planning their next-generation desktop strategy—applications should be deployed to people, not devices. Device-centric application delivery often results in a user tethered to a device, with that user’s productivity determined by the availability of a single compute device, such as a desktop or laptop. Moving away from device-centric computing is no easy task, but can result in significantly better business continuity, security, and operational efficiency, not to mention increased user productivity. Today, many organizations have more questions than answers regarding the way forward. Fundamentally changing the organization’s application delivery and support model cannot be done overnight, but instead requires a commitment to numerous strategic and tactical initiatives. This session doesn’t offer a magic bullet to get you to a people-centric support model, but does offer practical guidance derived from the experiences of leading and bleeding edge organizations. Protocol Wars: What Matters?  Sumit Dhawan – Citrix, Jon Rolls – Quest Software, Vittorio Viarengo – VMware The remote display protocol has been the source of considerable debate among desktop virtualization vendors, with protocol performance and features often a tipping point in many product decisions. This lively debate looks to answer the question of “What matters?” in terms of protocol feature set. Leading experts from Citrix Systems, Quest Software, and VMware will be on stage to not only challenge the assertions of their peers, but also to answer your most pressing questions. Making Sense of Desktop Virtualization Dustin Fennell, VP and CIO, Scottsdale Community College Desktop virtualization as a strategic application delivery platform promises a number of compelling benefits, but it can be difficult to translate these promises into successful (and reliable) deployments. In addition, successful desktop virtualization implementations leverage many different strategies and technologies and go well beyond simply virtualizing the desktop. This session provides attendees with an overview of the different technologies that can be leveraged to provide a comprehensive end-to-end virtual solution. Moreover, strategies for success and realized benefits will be identified based on a long-term real-world successful virtual desktop implementation. Attendees will leave this session with the following: An understanding of the...

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Is VMware a Provider or Enabler?

Today VMware announced the launch of Cloud Foundry – a cloud service that makes it easy for developers to get started with VMware’s Open Platform-as-a-Service (Open PaaS) offerings. VMware CTO Steve Herrod offered good insight into VMware’s plans for Cloud Foundry in thispost. In case you missed it, last week Steve Herrod blogged about VMware taking over operations for EMC’s Mozy cloud-based data protection service. So in the past week, VMware has quietly announced that it will host two cloud service offerings. I say “quietly” because there were no press releases or the usual fanfare. VMware has long positioned itself as an enabler for cloud service offerings. One can clearly say that today they still are. Cloud Foundry is a beta service that for now, is free. In the case of Mozy, VMware runs operations for the cloud data protection service, but doesn’t actually sell it (that responsibility stays with EMC). With the past two announcements, you could say that VMware isn’t stepping on the toes of its provider partners, but it is standing so close to their toes that it is making them uncomfortable. VMware’s not a provider in the traditional sense today, but they are building an infrastructure and operational processes that can allow them to become a provider at the flick-of-a-switch. To me, the last two announcements equate to simple math. Mozy + Cloud Foundry = Insurance Right now VMware is moving forward as an enabler to cloud service providers and is doing well selling infrastructure and associated management software. By hosting some of their own cloud services, VMware can now test and perfect new innovations at an enterprise scale – all before releasing new software to end user organizations and provider partners. With Cloud Foundry, VMware is making a significant investment to further seed the Open PaaS community with expectations that it can grow to rival Microsoft’s .NET platform and Azure. In the future, if there is massive consolidation in the cloud provider market due to economies of scale, the few providers left standing may determine that they no longer need VMware. If that happens, VMware needs insurance to ensure its survival in an increasingly cloudy world. In addition, it’s no secret that rivals Microsoft, Citrix, and Oracle are optimizing their hypervisors and application stacks to work better on their own products than rival hypervisors. As I’ve said before, VMware can’t remain primarily as a platform for Windows applications in an area where Microsoft is a direct competitor. That story always ends the same. So the success of Open PaaS is very strategic to VMware because in my opinion VMware needs a strong application platform to compete against the likes of Microsoft and Oracle...

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