vRAM, which is still the basis for pricing, will gradually change the way data centers approach both capacity planning and allocation of computing resources, making both much more similar to the way things are done in large clouds than in smaller data centers.
Changes like that – far more practical and bounded by specific configurations of servers, networks, application requirements and performance goals – don't happen quickly.
With the plethora of competing virtual-server and PAAS vendors eager to take advantage of VMware user dissatisfaction, there's a good change many VMware users will have begun including competing products into their previously homogeneous virtual infrastructures as a way to save license costs.
Analysts have been predicting for three years that enterprise customers would begin building Hyper-V-based clusters into VMware virtual infrastructures, but real-world examples until now have been relatively few.
It will also change the way enterprises buy hardware.
Watch over the next 12 months for a shift toward higher-powered servers and a drop in sales of memory to run in lower-end hardware.
Look also for a boost in virtual-server business for Citrix, which not only sells virtual-desktop systems far more adaptable than VMware's, it sells them without the penalty vSphere license costs would put on the memory-intensive requirement on servers running VDI from the data center.
It probably won't shift users en masse from VMware to other vendors, even external cloud vendors.
Instead it will push them toward standard hardware configurations that match much more closely the best-practice recommendations VMware has been putting out all along, and toward the kind of management tools VMware sells to control VMware lifecycle, resource use and to limit sprawl.
If all your VMs are free, VM sprawl only wastes a little disk space or some processing capacity here or there.
If you pay by the vRAM gigabyte, every extra, unclaimed VM floating around your enterprise costs money you don't have to spend, so it's worth your while to buy tools to find and kill them.
Which also helps make more efficient use of your existing hardware, increases your level of security, reduces your support costs, makes data-access audits simpler and keeps the rest of the VM infrastructure running more cleanly because processors don't have to waste effort on dead wood.
All those things are good. So is thinking about data center resources as if they're part of a cloud, as long as doing it makes more sense than the opposite, and you can break what have become old habits of buying to support a VM habit and shift to rules of procurement that promote migration to and efficient use of the fog rather than encouraging you to stick with whatever stage of virtualization you've already reached.