VMware’s on-demand and online Labs/PoCs (You wish!)

[Inspired by a Stevie Chambers’ tweet , he really has quite unique and interesting daily tweets, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins the next Golden Globe on twitter this year, if there is anything like that]

So, imagine VMware, as the virtualization leader in the market, implemented this cool idea! An on-demand virtual environment for us, the customers/prospects, to create our own labs, demos, evaluations or even proof-of-concepts! It’s not that challenging really form a technical point of view! Microsoft is already doing that for most of its applications (Hyper-V not included, YET!). As an IT pro, I can tell you that Microsoft TechNet virtual labs have helped me and consequently my employer BIG TIME for testing or evaluating specific MS products/features. It is really the simplicity that makes it incredibly useful. We are talking about a few mouse clicks here and you have a complete environment instantly to test what you need.

But I’m not here to talk about us, the customers, only. I look at it from a VMware perspective as well. This could be a huge step for VMware, mainly to win more customers who are hesitant to adopt the VI3/vS4 environments, or specific applications (like SRM, LM, View ..etc). Let’s take an example here: whenever I talk with anyone who hasn’t worked with VMware or knows much about it, they always tell me that they can’t use the product because they don’t know much about Linux! And then I start spending fairly good time explaining that Linux has nothing to do with us for a day-to-day administration, even for scripting now everything is almost possible through PowerShell. I can’t really explain to a customer who has no experience whatsoever in Linux, about things like the VMkernel and the striped RHEL COS on top of it, or even the ESX(i) and the BusyBox! They really need to have the hands-on experience with the product to be convinced that nearly 99% of their administration time will be spent on a GUI.

Now, let’s try to make more sense out of this idea by simulating an argument (people love to argue for some reason), even if this whole thing is successfully implemented & running by Microsoft as stated above I wouldn’t be surprised if people hated it:

This might not be technically possible.
If I can run on my laptop the entire VI3 stack, including the SRM itself as a multi-site DR solution, I believe VMware can deliver and automate this environments online and on-demand.

VMware doesn’t have the facilities for implementing this.
As far as I know, VMware is building (or already built) a huge datacenter in Washington, and dedicating most of it for R&D, I believe they won’t mind to dedicate just a small part of it for an idea like this.

Not everything can be done remotely, you will still need physical access.
If you took an official online VMware training, you will know that the entire labs are done efficiently on remote facility, and we are talking here about detailed technical training.

VI3/vS4 is not that easy to install/configure by people on their own.
I believe a 10 years old kid can install ESX(i) in less than 15 min. There is also an endless amount of tutorials & videos available online for that matter, even for vS4 that is not yet publicly available you can see people already started creating these videos (ESX4 here & vCenter4 here)

VMware would kill its partners who are already doing this kind of SaaS.
We are talking here about a limited duration labs deployed and wiped-out for testing and evaluations. May be for proof-of-concepts that will require more time and effort, so they could be presented as a part of their PSO services, but online.

Why doesn’t an individual do this on his/her laptop, or an enterprises do this on their own labs.
A 4GB laptop is not that cheap or available for everyone, despite the slowness when running everything in the same time. For enterprises I don’t think a SysAdmin would have the time to prepare and build a lab just to test a software he/she’s not even convinced yet to adopt, while through this idea it takes only a few mouse clicks to test whatever required on the fly without all other complications.

VMware does PoCs and jumpstarts through their PSO.
Indeed, but we are talking here about the initial steps leading to this phase. Not all the managers out there are open-minded and listening to their enthusiastic techies to start PoCs, they may need something to see infront of their own eyes first, and done by their own team. Besides, VMware’s PSO is not available everywhere and this is a fact I’m living in right now.

These are the arguments that I can think of at the moment, if you have any other reasons why this would be a bad idea, drop a comment, I will delete it anyways (just kidding). If you agree, say so or promote the idea on your blog. If you are a VMware employee, present it to your boss and take the credit for yourself, but I’ll hunt you down (I’m NOT kidding!)

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