What to make of the EMC/FastScale deal? A couple of things come to mind.
First, the facts: EMC is buying FastScale, which specializes in IT management software, for an undisclosed sum. The company plans to integrate the company's flagship Composer Suite and other tools into the Ionix platform, with the intent to optimize app deployment and performance on private clouds.
The EMC take is that bringing in FastScale's basic underlying management approach -- essentially pooling server resources in a repository and then doling out to hardware only the select pieces needed to run applications -- will produce a more streamlined yet flexible cloud architecture. The company claims FastScale offers a three-fold increase in VM population without a performance degradation, and a 75 percent cut in memory and disk usage, which it hopes will be enough to convince enough enterprises that they can trust their top-tier applications to the cloud.
This is all well and good for EMC, but it seems to complicate things with its subsidiary VMware. The Ionix platform will certainly benefit from a cloud-optimized deployment stack. The package is a collection of management tools governing things like directory mapping, operations intelligence, automation and compliance that EMC cobbled together through various acquisitions. The last piece of the puzzle is a provisioning tool, which Composer Suite provides, and more.
The question that comes up, then, is whether this means EMC believes the VMware vSphere 4.0 platform is up for the uber-harsh environments of the top enterprises. vSphere recently got a management capability booster shot of its own, including new capacity planning, storage configuration and disaster recovery tools, but it probably would be nice for VMware customers to be able to provide those tools at three times the consolidation and a quarter of the storage.
To be fair, EMC and VMware plan to integrate vCenter with the Ionix portfolio, which could then be used to bump up vSphere's cloud performance. But if you're going to go through all that trouble to integrate the two on a reseller basis, why not just bundle the whole Ionix stack into vSphere? I'm having trouble imagining any IT customer who would not want to deploy vSphere on fewer servers and with less memory.
Maybe this is just a question of taking it one step at a time, both for EMC and for customers. Many CTOs are still trying to get their heads around the cloud, and are probably just hoping to deploying limited, workable architectures this year and leave optimization for later.
What EMC has to worry about, though, is what we used to call "the deli dilemma" -- that is, too much choice (white or wheat? mayo? mustard? vCenter? Ionix?), while offering tremendous customization, can often lead to confusion.
The cloud is confusing enough, but too much product overlap would make it even more so.