Let the Private-Cloud Management Race Begin

Although CA’s decision to purchase 3Tera was a bit surprising, its decision to make an application-deployment acquisition was not. Buying 3Tera brought much-needed cloud application- and resource-deployment capabilities into CA’s already-impressive fold, and for a few days it looked like CA was poised to dominate systems management in the cloud. Then EMC sold its Ionix systems-management product line to VMware and perhaps leveled the playing field.
It’s not clear that VMware and EMC made this deal in direct response to the CA-3Tera announcement (that would have required some rash decision-making), but the timing certainly suggests they haven’t been blind to the writing on the wall. As other vendors filled out their cloud portfolios, so, too did VMware, including with the very strategic purchases of SpringSource and Zimbra. Now, VMware will be able to match CA (and others) across a variety of core functionalities, including the very important ability to manage both physical and virtual infrastructure.
Assuming engineers meld VMware’s existing virtualization management products with the Ionix software to some degree, customers should be able to dynamically manage and configure all of their servers, applications and network components from the proverbial “single pane of glass.” Without incorporating physical management into its solution set, VMware ran the risk of vendors like CA, Microsoft, IBM and others building or acquiring cloud-management products and making VMware obsolete. Corporate data centers won’t be totally virtualized any time soon, and there’s no reason to have multiple management vendors if one will do the trick.
That VMware is making this move is even more noteworthy because of its large, and loyal, customer base. There is no doubt that some customers interested in private clouds will be persuaded to switch vendors – especially to an independent party like CA that will not limit their hypervisor or hardware choices – but many will be more comfortable sticking with the vendor they already know. I attended a session on cloud-computing systems management at the Gartner Data Center Conference in December, and an audience poll showed the majority would prefer have their virtualization vendors handle that task rather than public-cloud providers, cloud-focused startups or any of the “big four” management vendors (CA, IBM, HP and BMC).
Who will come out on top in their quests to win private-cloud market share is anybody’s guess. While definitely unique from one another, VMware and CA seem to have the core pieces – and relative storage, data and server neutrality – to be real challengers for the top spot. However, Microsoft (plus Citrix), HP, Oracle and IBM all have their own private-cloud stories to tell, and Red Hat and Tibco are dark-horse candidates. (Actually, both of these two companies have made some big moves under the radar, Tibco by building its own cloud application platform and buying DataSynapse, and Red Hat with its own virtualization-management software, as well as the slew of cloud products it has in the works.) I suspect CA will set the pace with the deliverables it has promised for May, followed by market-wide one-upmanship attempts for the foreseeable future.

Question of the week

Who has the best solution set for managing private clouds: CA, VMware, or a different vendor?