News this morning that VMware has acquired DynamicOps for a reported $100-$150M price tag. DynamicOps is a provider of IT management services that (and this is the important bit) span heterogeneous environments. It comes the same day Dell finally announces the fraught with stress acquisition of Quest and marks a rapid heating up of the cloud automation space. It also raises some questions about those players remaining – both the exciting new entrants (RightScale and enStratus for example) and the more traditional vendors who arguably need to make some smart investments (BMC in particular).
There were some vaguely tongue in cheek comments about the timing, most notably from Christian Reilly who suggested that there was no coincidence that this announcement so closely followed the recent AWS outage;
So, we wait for the AWS outage, let Ent CIOs get even less comfortable with public cloud, then announce the DynamicOps acq, got it ?
That’s perhaps a little bit of a conspiracy theory (even if it’s a pretty humorous one) but it does point to the fact that VMware is articulating a pretty confused and confusing strategy that tries to lock in to their own platform on the one hand, but then comes out with some of the most abhorrent and transparent FUD on the other (for an example, check out this post) in which they spout gems like;
The IaaS market has evolved into two segments: “raw VM” IaaS led by Amazon Web Services, and enterprise, where the cloud directly supports the application with higher performance, more flexibility and high availability.
Only a few days later they announce the DynamicOps deal saying;
A number of customers have told me that, while they have and will continue to standardize on vSphere for their production datacenters, they have a few pockets of other hypervisors for various reasons, and they are looking for a multi-hypervisor management solution
This indicates just how tight the rope is that VMware is walking across – trying to maintain as much lock in as possible, while still admitting (albeit cautiously) that the world has moved away from total homogeneity. Lots of thoughts on this so here’s my analysis.
VMware Gets Even More Confusing
I posted recently about the confusion that is VMware – they’ve gone from being a hypervisor-centric company to one that plays heavily in the software and platform space. All the while there’s a tension internally from those who want to do nothing but keep the status quo for as long as possible. VMware is only going to get more confusing as it goes ahead and focuses on more and more seemingly discrete areas. There are definitely common threads among all these products but at the moment those threads are thin and poorly articulated.
The future IS Heterogeneity
With this move, and despite them being a bit reluctant to admit it louder, VMware finally accepts that the world has moved on from homogeneity. This acquisition marks something that I’ve been predicting for quite sometime which is a huge ascension of anyone that is in the space of managing discrete workloads on heterogeneous infrastructure. There are a number of players doing interesting work in this space – enStratus, RightScale, Abiquo, Sclar etc etc Frankly I’m surprised that more M&A hasn’t occurred since these vendors all have a part in enabling what the future will look like.
Legacy Vendors Need to Respond
A few months ago I wrote a post about an interesting role play session I took part in with BMC. BMC is a player in the space thanks to its Cloud Lifecycle Management (CLM) product. Without diving into the specifics of the CLM product itself, it seems to me that BMC is falling into a traditional large vendor model of on the one hand decrying the new world as risky and ill-advised, and on the other “cloudifying” its existing product enough to get by with. While this is undoubtedly a strategy that works in the very short term, I’m told by insiders that CLM is actually fairly limited in terms of real cloud functionality.
Beware the VMware Tax
It’s informative to look at the origins of DynamicOps. The company was spun out of Credit Suisse’s IT department in 2008. While it was originally a virtualization-management vendor, it entered the private cloud space and formed a partnership with Dell that saw it become the self-service components of Dell’s Virtual Integrated System software suite. (Interestingly Dell shouldn’t lose too much sleep with this news since with its Quest acquisition it’s gone on to other things). This financial history is quite telling as they still have a large installed base amongst financial services companies. it wouldn’t be a massive surprise to see VMware leverage that to gain yet more of a toehold in FinServe and try and broaden their revenue base. In doing so they give a nod towards open on the one hand, but very much lock people in further on the other.
Net/Net – this is a positive, if for no other reason than that it validates a concept that sees organizations use different technology solutions according to their particular situation – anything that makes that prospect a reality has to be positive. Of course I’m a little anxious about VMware’s intentions and the next few months will show just what game they’re playing (and I suspect they’re paying a variety of different games all at the same time).
(Cross-posted @ The Diversity Blog – SaaS, Cloud & Business Strategy)