VMware's recent acquisition of the cloud-based backup service Mozy may confuse server virtualization users because it doesn't make sense from a server standpoint, but it could help IT pros with virtual desktop backup and storage demands.
The Mozy acquisition is also likely an important part of VMware's strategies for moving customer desktops to the cloud, analysts said.
One of the biggest costs associated with VDI is storage, and VMware has been working on ways to lower that expense. The company released tiered storage with VMware View 4.5, and having a large cloud-based desktop storage backup platform in its portfolio could give customers another way to offset costs.
"Storage in general is a huge issue for virtual desktops and the biggest cost component for some companies," said Mark Margevicius, a Gartner Inc. analyst. "So, any native offering or add-on that helps reduce that cost is construed as a good thing, and I think that's part of VMware's strategy with Mozy."
At this point, VDI backup is done with agent-based backups, synchronization or local-based backups performed by end users.
Giving end users the task of backing up their machines means installing backup software on the local PC and providing removable storage with enough capacity to support those backups. The problem with that is that IT pros don't want to trust end users with that task, particularly when it involves removable storage that can be lost or stolen.
A cloud-based backup offering such as Mozy eliminates that responsibility and the risk associated with removable storage. Of course, it also involves giving data to a cloud provider, which some IT pros are just as uncomfortable with.
"But it's an option, and customers won't have to use it if they don't want to," Margevicius said. "It's also an option that differentiates, because [cloud-based backup] isn't something their competitors offer."
"Organizations have generally had to figure out what to do with View user's data when they designed the View environment," Snowden said. "Usually, this is done by having the user's My Documents mapped to an internal file server that is being backed up already. With Zimbra, they now have a more complete office in the cloud offering than with Zimbra alone."
A statement on Mozy's website also says the two companies will "integrate long-term development plans central to building and delivering hybrid cloud solutions." From that, one could extrapolate that Mozy may tie in to Project Horizon, VMware's upcoming self-service delivery portal for cloud and on-premise applications.
Horizon, which is due sometime this year, is based on other cloud platform acquisitions. When it becomes available, VMware View users will be able to access cloud-based applications and local apps from the Horizon portal using single sign-on, behind the corporate firewall.
Another piece of VMware's cloud package
The Mozy acquisition is probably more a cloud story than a backup and storage story, because it gives VMware a way to offer desktops hosted in the cloud, said David Bartoletti, an analyst at The Taneja Group, an IT analysis firm in Hopkinton, Mass.
"VMware could serve up desktops using Mozy and VMware Go, where instead of downloading and virtualizing physical machines, you can download and implement virtual desktops," Bartoletti said. "That's probably where they are going."
At the very least, VMware now has a cloud service offering for the types of things companies are already using the cloud for, said Tony Wilburn, a virtualization consultant in the Washington, D.C., area. "Email and backups are two things organizations feel the most comfortable with moving to the cloud," he said. "The low-hanging fruit."
Through the acquisitions of application provider SpringSource, Zimbra, WaveMaker and now Mozy, VMware owns cloud services for development environments, email management, applications and data backup environments.
"What we may be seeing is their initial push into virtualized desktops, apps and data services, possibly backup and recovery, all from a packaged offering," Bartoletti said.
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