IBM today extended its lead in virtualization with the announcement that it acquired CIMS Lab, Inc., a privately-held software company that helps businesses track the usage of computing resources across virtualized technology environments -- such as storage, as well as servers, email, networks, databases, applications and operating systems.
This is an area that IBM knows well, since it invented virtualization and has been providing it for the past 40 years. In fact, IBM has been providing virtualization solutions longer than companies such as EMC have been in existence. Today, IBM is the only vendor that can virtualize up to 80 percent of a customer's infrastructure.
(On January 26th), EMC is also expected to announce some news around virtualization, specifically file level virtualization through its acquisition of Rainfinity. In typical EMC fashion, the company will try to claim leadership in virtualization for customers. But they are counting on the people who hear this message to have a very short memory. Below are a couple of events that the company would like you to forget:
-- In early 2002, EMC told customers, reporters, and the industry that it already had virtualization. Essentially, EMC was trying to convince the market that traditional disk array technology was equal to virtualization.
-- In January of 2003, EMC talked about virtualization as "ill-defined'" and didn't like using the term.
-- Four months later, in May 2003, EMC changed its position again and stated in an analyst report that it was going to address virtualization and do virtualization better.
-- Fast forward to April 2004 and EMC tips its hand about plans for Storage Router at its annual user conference.
-- One month later, EMC states to stockholders at its 2004 shareholders meeting that virtualization "is probably the newest and hottest technology out there" and that they will have a storage virtualization product - the storage router - in the second half of 2005.
-- In March of 2005, IBM announces to the world that it now has more than 1,000 customers specifically using IBM storage virtualization solutions across heterogeneous infrastructures - be it IBM, HP, Hitachi or EMC.
-- On May 16, 2005, EMC introduces Invista at its Technology Summit in New Orleans. In the press release it states, "EMC will complete Invista beta testing this quarter, with general availability in the third quarter of 2005 for EMC Connectrix branded switches from Brocade and Cisco."
-- Pause and in August 2005, EMC's vice president of infrastructure software, Todd Oseth, leaves the company to become COO at McData Corp. Oseth was responsible for the development of Invista.
For customers ready to embrace the virtualization evolution, this timeline may warrant hesitation to engage with EMC.
So for more than two years, EMC has waffled on the need for storage virtualization. During that same time, IBM delivered on products for storage, servers and software, and is now delivering its eighth version of its SAN Volume Controller (SVC) virtualization technology. With todays acquisition, IBM is building even further upon its portfolio of virtualization hardware, software and services, already the broadest in the industry.
IBM has a stronghold on the virtualization market with more than 1,750 storage virtualization customers, which as far as anyone can tell is roughly 1,745 more than EMC. Further, all IBM mainframes are delivered with partitioning capability, iSeries has shipped 30,000 LPARs, pSeries has delivered 10,000 systems delivered with virtualization, and IBM has completed more than 500 large-scale grid implementations. With IDC predictions of growth in the virtualization market to be particularly strong during 2005-2006 as broad adoption is still increasing, IBM can offer customers virtualization offerings that have been proven through the years.
IBM's statement doesn't address EMC's server virtualisation offering, VMware. Yet IBM brags - we can use the term 'brags' surely, IBM has said EMC is 'waffling' so let's be equally robust - about its server virtualisation numbers.
All IBM mainframes have it - let's say that's 5,000. The iSeries have shipped 30,000 logical partitions. Let's say that's two per machine and assume 15,000 virtualised iSeries. Add that to 10,000 pSeries and we have a total of 30,000 virtualised IBM servers.
How many VMware sales have there been? A million? Two million? More? IBM probably has far less than a tenth of EMC's server virtualisation sales. IBM is also forgetting about the virtualisation inside EMC drive arrays, the RAID'ing and so forth.
IBM knows that EMC is probably its largest and strongest competitor on the server-storage virtualisation front. The statement above is as much a complement to EMC as a reminder to IBM customers that the Lion King is still the king of the virtualisation jungle. But do note, Tarzan Tucci is getting stronger.