VMware comes late to the covert cloud party

Does covert IT simplify things or make life harder for tech bods? Steve Cassidy takes a look.

I don't know many corporates who would feel happy about downloading pre-built VMs via a BitTorrent client, for example. This was a classic case of "Covert IT", at least at one level, allowing both appliance builders and VMware to sidestep the hosting and bandwidth demands arising from complete virtual PCs being shunted around the public internet. Now, it's a study in a problem which I believe afflicts all covert clouds.

It's a minefield. A virtual appliance is, by definition, a closed box - a prebuilt, precooked entire server-on-a stick. Take it - all of it - or leave it. Some appliances are slightly mis-described. Others are rampantly exploitative, offering a "quick look" which in fact is nothing more than a dead end evaluation after a 20 plus GB download. Others still just don't work at all. Others still are completey incomprehensible inclusions. In what way is the documentation for a VOIP system from French telecomms giant Avaya, a "virtual appliance"? Yet that's what was the pick of the day, when I went to the site. My intention was to have a quick swipe through looking for a handy solution. Instead I found myself mired in a poorly documented, obliquely categorised maze. 

This is not a good sign, either for VMware as a shop-window in how it has built and run a self-service portal, or for those who think that the early and simple choices which make up covert IT now, show that it will always be appealing to the more impetuous and energetic corporate worker.

Once there are as many choices for covert IT in front of a naive user, as there are appliances in the VMware store today, will that still make it such an appealing option? Our job in IT has always been to simplify things for people whose job description doesn't include puzzling out technological brain-teasers, with all that finanical perfection and security paranoia coming a distant second and third.

I would argue that the overall case study presented by looking at VMware's take on covert IT is amazingly useful in this regard - but possibly not for the reasons it thinks it is! 

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