VMware to Embed EMC: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

News leaked out yesterday in CRN of VMware’s plans to embed Avamar backup software from their parent company EMC into the next version of vSphere. If accurate, this wouldn’t be the first time VMware has embedded pieces of EMC into its software, but it would certainly be the most significant.

It’s bold, it’s brazen and it could prove to be a significant fork in VMware’s yellow brick road to the cloud. VMware, after all, was the industry darling for its commitment to being independent and promoting a successful multi-vendor ecosystem that solidified CEO Paul Maritz’s vision for tomorrow’s data center.

While I suspect EMC and VMware will downplay the significance of the move as merely simplifying backup for virtualized environments, it’s much, much bigger. Even if Avamar on vSphere is hard limited at 2TB as speculated, this is not just about backup; it’s about VMware/EMC as a platform.

Earlier this week, word leaked out that VMware would be eliminating their vRam entitlement licensing in favor of bundling VMware cloud solutions including vCloud Director.

Essentially with the next version of vSphere, you won’t just be upgrading your server virtualization software; you’ll also be getting a taste of their backup and cloud software. Let’s not forget VMware’s largest resellers are Dell and HP who have also made significant investments in backup software and cloud infrastructure in the last few years. They are not going to just hand over the data center to VMware/EMC without a fight. Both also have significant relationships with Microsoft and their less threatening Hyper-V. Somewhere, a Microsoft executive is smiling.

To top it off, there’s also speculation VMware will “spin out some of its cloud assets, including its Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service division and parent company EMC’s Greenplum assets into a separate company” to compete with Amazon, Microsoft and Google.

George Reese of enStratus recently summed up VMware’s strategy to win the cloud fight:

  • The enterprise can be enticed to stay in the vSphere sphere for their existing applications by using vCloud. With vCloud, they can see some cloudy benefits without having to re-architect applications to be “design for failure”. This helps blunt the impact of cloud services like Amazon and competing cloud-scale infrastructure offerings like CloudStack, Eucalyptus, Joyent, Nimbula, and OpenStack.
  • The enterprise can be convinced to skip IaaS for new applications and go straight into PaaS via CloudFoundry. CloudFoundry on top of vCloud can hide all of the technical debt in the VMware platform and make an application operate at cloud scale.

VMware is raising the stakes significantly and the once “play nice with everyone” vendor is quietly drawing battle lines with virtually every other vendor in enterprise tech.

Goodbye yellow brick road.


UPDATE: Added the “Avamar on vSphere is hard limited at 2TB” for clarification and context