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Monthly Archives: August 2007

Lowering the Cost and Complexity of IT in Midmarket and Smaller Companies

Benmatheson

Posted by Ben Matheson
Director of Small and Medium Business

About a year ago we started focusing more on the needs of small
and medium business customers. The reason why we did this is quite simple. We
were seeing a surprising number of midmarket and smaller customers adopting
virtualization. 70% of downloads from VMware Server (of which we have over two
million at this point by the way) were from SMB customers and we have over 10K
midmarket or smaller customer adopting VMware Infrastructure (VI3), our high
end virtualization product. 

Turns out that the benefits of virtualization are every bit
as important to midsize and smaller businesses as they are to the world’s
largest enterprises. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say they are even
more important in a lot of cases. SMB’s don’t have the challenge of managing
thousands of servers but they also don’t have the big budgets and IT staff that
the larger enterprises have either. The challenge in midmarket IT is how they meet
the demands of the business with very limited resources. And make no mistake
their IT infrastructure is every bit as important to their business as it is
within a large enterprise. Just because an SMB is smaller doesn’t mean they
don’t need the highest levels of performance, availability, security, etc from
their software infrastructure. They need all the good stuff that virtualization
has to offer.

So why have these SMB’s deployed virtualization?

There is a simple way I like to describe the benefits of virtualization
to medium and small businesses. It is what I call “Simplify. Optimize. Protect”.
Customers can use virtualization to simplify their overall IT
management (save time on management), optimize the use of their hardware
assets (save money on hardware), and protect their systems and
business critical information from disaster or downtime (save their business).  Let me take these one at a time.

Simplify: “to reduce
in complexity”

Reducing the number of physical servers will help you simplify
your IT environment but virtualization does much more than that. Virtualization
reduces time spent on many of the common IT management activities. First off,
our management tool, VMware VirtualCenter, provides a centralized management
experience where customers can monitor and manage all their virtual machines
and physical resources from the proverbial “single pane of glass”. Customers
can also choose to setup alerts or automate routine tasks with task scheduling
and alerting.

Second, virtualization simplifies the deployment of new
servers. Provisioning a physical server traditionally has been a very time
consuming task. First you have to order a server, then you wait until it is
delivered, then provision the operating system, then the applications, then the
management agents, etc. Provisioning a physical server takes days/weeks. With VirtualCenter
a customer picks which virtual machine they want to deploy from a list of
templates (such as email template, file server template, etc) and then determines
the physical server they want to deploy it on and they are done. Provisioning a
server with VirtualCenter can be done in
minutes or hours rather than days. Equally
as important, a customer does not have to buy a new physical server every time
they need to roll out a new workload but rather they can roll out a virtual
machine on an existing physical server.

Finally, customers can use VirtualCenter to apply policies
across entire farms of virtual machines in a very simple, yet powerful way.  For example, they can apply technologies like
VMware High Availability
(our availability software solution) or VMware Distributed Resource
Scheduler
(our dynamic load balancing solution) across all his virtual
machines very easily. This process is much simpler than other technologies such
as traditional clustering technologies which are very difficult to setup and
manage.

Optimize: “to make as effective, perfect, or useful as
possible”

SMB customers consistently tell me they use 15% of less
their servers’ capacity. The root cause of this waste has been that running
multiple line-of-business applications or server applications on the same
physical box never really worked because of application and operating system
conflicts. Physical systems have largely required a dedicated box for each
application. The result is server sprawl. Using virtualization they can
consolidate many physical boxes down to fewer physical boxes running virtual
machines. In fact we have a great tool for converting physical machines to
virtual machines called VMware
Converter
that you can download for free.  A nice side benefit of consolidating servers
is that it lowers cooling, electricity and space costs.

Last week I spoke with a small business that had 3 VMware
Infrastructure 3 servers running 15 virtual machines. In the old world he would
have had to buy 15 separate physical servers.  I spoke with another company in the process of
converting 14 physical servers down to 4 virtualized servers running VMware
Server. Same thing – lower costs. Virtualization allows them to optimize the use of their hardware and reduce
electricity, cooling and space at the same time.

Protect: “to defend or guard from attack, invasion, loss,
annoyance, insult, etc.”

If I had to stack rank the business benefits of
virtualization I would say that better data protection, availability and
disaster recovery is the biggest reason why SMB’s
adopt or are evaluating virtualization. Ultimately the most important thing
about disaster recovery and backup and recovery is the speed of recovery. This
is where virtualization really shines.  Virtualization packages all the system
information and data into a nice virtual machine container which makes recovery
very quick. We even have technologies like VMware High Availability
(HA) to
provide higher availability for the applications running in virtual machines. VMware HA reduces server downtime by automatically
restarting virtual machines that were
running on physical servers that crashed. VMware HA results in less application
downtime and the restart is done automatically without any IT staff
intervention.

Technologies like VMware
Consolidated Backup
(VCB) eliminate the need for a backup window and allow
customers to backup their systems anytime during the day without impacting
their production users.

And finally customers can use virtualization along with
replication technologies (either host based or array based replication) to
replicate the entire virtual machine to a secondary disaster site. If the
primary site goes down, the customers power on the virtual machines on the
secondary site and they are up and running.  With virtualization the hardware on the second
site does not need to be identical to the primary site. In fact, after a
customer consolidates using VMware software they can repurpose some of their older,
extra hardware to their disaster recovery site. Whitepapers on the benefits of
virtualization on DR can be found here:

More info…..

There is a lot I could say about the solutions we are
working on for medium and small businesses but a lot of that will have to wait
until another day. If you are a medium or smaller business and are looking for
more info you can go to: www.vmware.com/solutions/smb
and get more detail.

Thanks and I’ll be blogging soon, 

Ben

Elvis has left the building

[photo of Srinivas Krishnamurti]

Posted by Srinivas Krishnamurti
Director of Product Management and Market Development

Almost a year after we announced our intention to build a desktop product that allowed Mac users to run Windows, Linux, Solaris and many other PC operating systems without rebooting, I’m happy to announce that VMware Fusion™ is generally available as of August 6, 2007.

There will be a ton of reviews and blogs about features, performance, etc, so I will try to focus on things that the press and blogging community won’t necessarily cover. 

As I reflect back to the days when we first started talking in the kitchen of our previous headquarters about building this product, I’m glad we made and stuck to perhaps the biggest decision we had to make on this product yet.  That is to never compromise on the user experience. 

A wise man once told me, ‘Mac users expect great user interfaces; Windows users put up with rubbish interfaces and Linux users want rubbish interfaces.’  Not sure I completely agree with the entire statement but I definitely agree with him about Mac users expecting a clean and intuitive interface.  In order to provide an interface that Mac users expect, we decided to design and build a brand-new Mac native interface from the ground up.  We tried our best to build an interface that looks like a Mac app and behaves like a Mac app and we are delighted with the way the user interface turned out.

As we got closer to the GA date, we spent a fair bit of time discussing packaging for this product.  This was an interesting exercise for us primarily because we had never shipped consumer products nor sold our products through retail and etail outlets before.  (Before the VMware historians correct me, we actually did sell VMware Workstation through retail outlets way back when but we no longer do that.  I would venture to guess that 90% of the current employees weren’t around when Workstation was sold at Fry’s.)  Packaging is a big deal in retail outlets so in the same tradition of designing an intuitive and clean user interface, we decided early on that we need to develop packaging that would be clean, interesting and something that we would be proud of.  Needless to say, this video was sent around a million times, so much so that it wasn’t funny anymore.

The agency we hired proposed 10 different variations and amazingly enough, everyone on our project team gravitated towards one.  That design was cleaned up and now is the final design for VMware Fusion.

Fusion_3
While not quite Apple-esque, we felt that this was a clean look and conveyed the essence of our product.  We all felt that black background was more appealing than other colors we considered.  Perhaps the coolest and most unique part of this design is the front flaps that open in the middle on the front.  After spending an entire Sunday afternoon at Best Buy, I realized most software boxes either have no flaps at all or have a flap that opens like a book.  Boooring!  We didn’t want to be just another box.  We wanted to be proud of the box, just like we wanted to be proud of the software we have built.   VMware Fusion has two flaps that open down the middle – think of the monitor opening up in the middle.  Each of the flaps has three screenshots showcasing the product while the middle of the box (once you open the flaps) has detailed description of the product. 

Just to make sure we got some objective feedback, Pat and I drove to the nearest Apple store for beta testing of the box design.  We performed the so-called 3-, 6- and 12-foot test and asked a few employees and customers for their feedback.  Positive!  We were on the right track. 

I hope you will enjoy what we came up with.  Each box contains a little surprise gift and we sincerely hope you will put that gift to good use.  A quick note: manufacturing these wicked cool boxes is taking a bit longer than anticipated so you will probably have to wait a few days if you have ordered the boxed product.  However, if you are not into packaging, please feel free to order an electronic download version from www.vmware.com/mac.

To end, I want to extend my sincere thanks to the many VMware folks who contributed to this initiative.  You all spent many a sleepless night and weekends at work but when you look at what we built together, I hope you will agree with me that it was well worth it!  I also want to thank all the beta customers who took the time to provide invaluable feedback – your feedback helped us build a robust product.

Game on!