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Cloud vs virtualisation

Many companies, which are turning to cloud computing, will find the need to manage their cloud space becoming more important. Most of these companies rely on both public and private clouds. The impact in India could be higher than in developed countries, if one goes by a research study conducted by IDC in November 2011. According to the study, less than half of end-users across Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) will complete their private cloud projects by 2014. The respondents of the IDC survey felt this was because of lack of experience in building these systems and because of higher-than-expected upfront investment requirements. IDC says that consequently an increased number of enterprises will make a detour to public cloud services. This, in turn, will result in the management of the hybrid cloud being more pronounced in countries like India.

Systems management has traditionally been undertaken by companies like IBM, HP and Hitachi, said Praveen Bhadada, Engagement Manager, Zinnov. “The offering from Microsoft is specifically around the cloud environments where it will provide automation functionalities in virtualised environments. As the data centre and private cloud environments grow, this might see a significant uptake.”

Sanchit Vir Gogia, Senior Analyst, Forrester, did not want to directly comment on any of the players, but instead tried to illustrate the importance of management solutions through an example. “Consider a telecom operator who has thousands of apps, some on the public cloud, some on a virtual private cloud, some on an on-site private cloud, and some in a physical environment because you need responses in the range of 12-15 milliseconds. How do you manage this well? Cloud and data centre management solutions are critical because they help you manage different cloud environments.”

In conversation

The growth of cloud computing raises an interesting question. Will it end up killing virtualisation? After all, virtualisation tells you to replace 30 servers with three, while cloud computing tells you to get rid of servers altogether. Virtualisation being the first step to cloud computing, this naturally pits Microsoft in a head-on collision with virtualisation company VMware, but Carl Eschenbach, Co-President, Customer Operations, VMware, played down the threats. “We are agnostic to the operating system and support both Linux and Windows. If you are running only Microsoft, it (System Centre) may be a good solution. The maturity of our products still gives us an advantage.” In an interaction with eWorld, Eschenbach tells us more on why virtualisation is critical for cloud computing. Edited excerpts:

eW: Once, companies went in for virtualisation to cut costs, but now they are using analytics to maximise revenues. Has this altered the role that VMware plays in an organisation?

CE: Once, virtualisation was used by companies to solve tactical issues like server sprawl. Now, they have realised that thanks to virtualisation, there are more opex (operating expenditure) dollars to be saved than capex (capital expenditure). VMware is today focusing on opex and not just capex and insofar as analytics go, we are working with big data companies on this.

eW: Does the cloud in any way diminish VMware?

CE: No. You cannot build clouds without virtualisation. In fact, virtualisation is the catalyst that is driving cloud computing. There can be no cloud computing without virtualisation because virtualisation is the first step towards cloud computing.

eW: How have Indian CIOs been reacting to cloud computing?

CE: I last came to this country about a couple of years ago and today I’m pleased to state that India has accepted virtualisation. Two years ago, I had to sell the value of virtualisation to Indian CIOs. Today, there is a radical difference because CIOs are asking me how fast they can move to a private cloud. We also had a partner summit in India and now both customer adaptation as well as the ecosystem is coming together.

eW: Apart from sales, what value does India offer to VMware operations worldwide?

CE: We have a large R&D centre here. It is the second largest R&D centre for VMware outside of the US. We manage many BPO operations from India and our global support services are also managed out of India.

eW: For the quarter ended September 2011, your US revenue grew by just 22 per cent, compared to the international revenue, which went up by 42 per cent. Is this because of the slowdown?

CE: Actually, the US is a mature market for virtualisation, so international growth is faster than US growth. Internationally, we are finding good growth in Eastern Europe and in countries like Russia, Latin America, Japan, India and China.

eW: Many companies are looking at mobile devices. What is VMware doing about it?

CE: This is a big market for us. We have tied up with LG to offer the first hypervisor (a virtual machine manager) on a mobile. This will ensure that both the corporate environment and the personal environment can exist on the same device. CIOs are happy because this allows them to tie security policies to the device. Service providers are also happy because they can offer two different data and voice plans for the same device. Additionally, the virtual machine can be deleted if the employee leaves the company, so corporate data is also safe.

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