Keep an eye on VMware Project Octopus

VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas put a lot of emphasis on the user and the application experience. IT pro Rick Vanover highlights Project Octopus and its file management capabilities.

I was at VMworld in Las Vegas last week, and wow was it a busy one. There were a lot of announcements and technical sessions based on the new vSphere 5 platform, but also a lot of client-focused events. Specifically, VMware View 5 is now available; but we also got a look into the future of the supporting technologies that round out the entire computing experience.

One that caught my eye was Project Octopus. Project Octopus will allow universal access to data. This would be for internal staff, through any device: PC, smartphone, browser, tablet, Linux system, etc. And this would also apply for business partners, customers, or external organizations. Based on the previews and current information available, information policies and governance are at the forefront of Project Octopus.

During the keynote on Tuesday, Steve Herrod from VMware equated Project Octopus to Dropbox. While Dropbox, ShareFile and other solutions are really good at a single-person or small-group collaboration, I wonder about how the solutions would run with the masses. A good way to explain this is that Dropbox would be fine for me to run my business (with just me and a few others employed) on it, but I wouldn’t rip out my file servers at my day job for it for any scaled solution.

Where Project Octopus differs is that it has integrations with other VMware technologies such as View, Zimbra, Horizon and AppBlast. Having a seamless integration of the data and file access to virtual desktops, email, and other components is very compelling to me.

While we don’t have much in the way of specific details on the status and inner workings of Project Octopus, we can only assume it will at least start at the virtual appliance model for VMware vSphere environments. Whether or not cloud providers are leveraged for certain tiers of distribution is not clear at this point, but my prediction is that there would be an option for public cloud options to be used for file content storage and distribution via an Octopus workflow or policy.

Does integrated file management with other key parts of the computing experience make sense? I’ve used Zimbra in my lab, and I like it. I’m on board with select parts of this new model for computing, but still need to get my head around the inner workings before making a blanket recommendation. One thing is for sure, we all are tired of dealing with unstructured data and out of control growth.

Could a solution like Project Octopus be part of the solution? I’m staying tuned to see. What are your thoughts on a wholesale move to a file and data platform that supports multiple devices and recipients? Share your comments below.