What should VMware do? I'm sure Paul will be calling me directly, but while I am waiting I'll advance the thought here...
I'm sure there are a lot of options at play, but for me VMware needs to get real good at storage, the very place that it is under attack, especially from Symantec. Certainly there's a lot of work to be done here and the No. 1 focus for VMware right now is NFS. As discussed in a previous entry, NFS fixes a lot of the storage issues in virtualization infrastructures. The more testing we do of this configuration, the more impressed we become. VMware, as far as I know, stands alone in its robust support for NFS. Obviously I'm not advancing the idea of dropping fibre or iSCSI support, but VMware should leverage a clear strength. Right now NFS is almost treated like a secret handshake. Get the word out. Deepen the partnership with NAS appliance players like NetApp, EMC, and OnStor. Help get the message out on NFS. If VMware can convince the market that NFS is the best method to attach a virtualized server infrastructure to storage and that it is the only one or one of the few that can support NFS, it gives them a key advantage. NFS isn't for every situation and every enterprise. Using a NAS Gateway connecting to storage arrays allows you to use NFS for most of the environment and then native fibre or iSCSI when you need it.
Beyond NFS, improve the overall storage capabilities. Work with storage companies to make the integration between VMware and their solutions more than just speaking at the same seminar -- help them deliver functionality. Instead of buying more companies, invest in the community of software and hardware vendors that you helped to create or sustain. We need to see more tools like NetApp's SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure, Xiotech's Virtual View, and EMC's replication portfolio, and it is in VMware's best interests to invest in the development and promotion of those solutions.
I do agree with Symantec's stance that virtualized infrastructures struggle with storage management and storage connectivity. While storage management is often considered a VMware weakness, it's not exclusively their problem -- most virtual infrastructures struggle with the storage connectivity and management issues. Enabling the storage community to fix or at least simplify these issues will be a significant market advantage to the virtualization solution that does.
George Crump is founder of Storage Switzerland, an analyst firm focused on the virtualization and storage marketplaces. It provides strategic consulting and analysis to storage users, suppliers, and integrators. An industry veteran of more than 25 years, Crump has held engineering and sales positions at various IT industry manufacturers and integrators. Prior to Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation's largest integrators.