VMware Coopition with Storage
In a recent article from Chris Mellor - "Circling Storage in vSphere" - he discusses new functionality provided by VMware that is similar to thin provisioning features provided by storage system vendors. He muses - "How far down the storage array controller application stack will it go? To the point that all you need is a virtual storage array controller in ESX looking after just a bunch of disks (JBOD) in an enclosure?" VMware will inevitably provide more and more functionality typically found in storage systems. At the same time they will continue to improve and optimize how they work with existing storage systems. It is unlikely in the short term that VMware will render storage systems obsolete. VMware has a long way to go before they are a real threat to the storage players as a direct competitor. However, as they add new storage-oriented functionality they may soften some competitive differences between storage systems. For example, VMware's new thin provisionish feature conceptually could give a storage system vendor without thin provisioning an answer to a customer that wants this feature. Now before the thin provision guys argue that their technology is better - or that it is different - I admit that I haven't really looked into this new VMware technology and have no idea how good it is. The point is that you can expect VMware to continue to add more and more of storage features. And these capabilities will continue to mature over time. Additionally, VMware must and will continue to make 3rd-party storage systems work better with their software because it is in their best interest to do so. Therefore, VMware will walk the thin line of competing and cooperating with the storage vendors pretty much forever. Both parties have no choice in this matter. However, storage is complex and sophisticated technology and there are all levels and types of storage. I believe there are some smart people that know storage at VMware but it is not a part of their core DNA. If they do have grand plans to conquer the storage world - as Chris speculates - they have a long, long way to go.
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