VMware kills vRAM licensing, pledges more support for OpenStack, multi-cloud world

It's safe to say VMware is feeling the heat from its open source rivals.
Written by Paula Rooney, Contributor

VMware's decision to kill its vRAM licensing model and expand its OpenStack support illustrates the significant power the open source model has amassed in the virtualization industry.

In his first official keynote as VMware's next CEO, effective Sept 1, Pat Gelsinger announced the end of VMware's confusing and pricing vRAM licensing model and said the company will expand its support for OpenStack and the multi-cloud world.

Gelsinger said a survey of 13,000 customers revealed that pricing was the most unpopular aspect of VMware's business and that he was happy to announce the end of vRAM. There will be "no VRAM or Core entitlements," said Gelsinger, who is currently president and chief operating officer of EMC Information Infrastructure Products. It will be "all one easy model per CPU and per-socket and easy to buy, install and use."

With that, VMware announced at VMworld its vCloud Suite 5.1, integrating virtualization, cloud infrastructure and management portfolio into a single SKU.

Gelsinger also emphasized that VMware may have 50 percent share of the virtualization software market but is very aware that customer want lower cost and choices in their cloud platforms.

"It's a multi-cloud world and sadly there are other pockets of infrastructure we must support," Gelsinger said, noting that the company's Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) was the first step in that direction and its acquisitions of DynamicOps and Nicira demonstrate its commitment to openess.

VMware worked with OpenStack pioneer Piston to enable OpenStack on VMware's Cloud Foundry, he said.  DynamicOps will help VMware extend its Cloud vDirector to support cross cloud services including Desktop-As-A-Service, he added.

Nicira will help VMware extend and incorporate the VMware cloud suite into the next batch of OpenStack-based network and storage virtualization services and elevate VMware's leadership role in the software-defined data center.

The deal with Nicira, a network virtualization leader, closed last week.  VMware is "reaffirming our commitment to the OpenStack community and open source and Quantum [networking component in the OpenStack cloud stack]," Gelsinger said. "We are extending our community to OpenStack and the deal with Nicira deal closed and as of Thursday Nicira became part of VMware family. VMware is commited to support a multi-cloud environment."

Paul Maritz, the current but outgoing CEO who introduced his successor, said more than 60 percent of all server apps now run on virtualized servers, up from 25 percent four years ago. 

Gelsinger hailed VMware's leadership in the industry -- and its virtual ownership of the "v" letter, much the way Apple owns the i, but was careful to acknowlegde that the company knows it must open up and play well with public clouds such as Amazon and open source cloud stacks such as OpenStack in order to maintain that role.

Clearly, the changing attitude of the proprietary and once arrogant virtualization giant has taken a turn. Or has it?

Even Gelsinger said he was a bit taken aback when the audience didn't give him a standing ovation for killing vRAM. Or was it the love of Maritz, the former Microsoft exec who led VMware during the past four years, that accounted for the crowd's tepid response. Hard to tell.

It will be interesting to see how well the company's newly minted vCloud Suite 5.1 takes hold as the next generation of virtualization and cloud software ushers in the new era of the IT infrastructure. But there's no doubt that OpenStack, and indeed the entire open source cloud movement, has put the control of the industry back into the hands of the customers.


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