Sun’s Next Branding Blunder: xVM

Posted on June 4, 2008

I really hate bashing Sun, but I’ve gotta speak out against Sun’s continued moronic branding. Following in the tradition of “N1”, “Java Enterprise System”, and the horrible replacement of the good brand StorEdge with the misused StorageTek brand (applied to everything from long time Sun Arrays to Adaptec controllers), comes xVM.

Lets look at the definition of “brand”:

4 a: a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer : make b: a characteristic or distinctive kind

By my reckoning, “Sun” would fit definition A, and “StorEdge” would fit B. Using a brand to cover an overly broad grouping of applications, such as Identify Management, Cluster, database, and app server is in my mind too broad and thus is confusing unless marketed as a single unified stack, which for instance JES commonly isn’t.

The xVM brand will cover all Sun virtualization technologies eventually it would seem. When used alone, xVM refers to Xen. xVM Ops Center appears to be a replacement for the existing (remaining) N1 tools, namely N1 System Manager and N1 Provisioning Server (did these ever get traction?). Even VirtualBox, a desktop VMWare/Parallel’s competitor that Sun is moving toward the server space, is now “xVM VirtualBox”. One can only assume that Solaris Zones and LDOM’s will come under the xVM brand as well… although as a major Zones fan I can’t help but notice Sun’s decreasing attention to them which is often completely absent from marketing presentations about Sun’s virtualization strategy.

Brands are hard to build and they should long endure. The Sun ONE, N1, JES transitions only confused customers and duplicated marketing effort needlessly. xVM is now going to bring unrelated virtualization technologies under a brand translated as Xen and span market segments, not to mention that Ops Center is first and foremost a systems management application, not a virtualization product. What happens when a customer says to me “I need a tool to improve datacenter deployments”, and I reply “xVM Ops Center is the tool for you!”, and he says “xVM is that like Xen or Virtualization or something? I’m not using virtualization”… what do I say? “Umm… well, xVM Ops Center does virtualization, but its really much more than that.”

Whoever made the decision to confuse customers yet again with this xVM branding strategy, thanks. I’m certain it will cause pain for years to come.