VMworld, A One Horse Show?

by Amy Newman

Virtually Speaking: The competition is crying foul over VMware's exhibit hall policies, but there has been no shortage of news out of San Jose this week. Starting with VMware itself.

If last year's VMworld was a rallying cry to get the technology out there and into production, regardless environment (though it was quite clear — wink-wink, nudge-nudge — which was best and which you should use), this year's is all about what the name implies: a VMware world.

Nowhere is this more clear than in how it seems to be handling the competition. Last year, Citrix and Microsoft had a significant presence at the show. Microsoft, in fact, chose it as the venue to ramp up its Hyper-V hype.

This year, the competition is in attendance, but the gloves are off. Gone are the peace, love and smiles that were present last year. Citrix timed an open-source cloud infrastructure announcement to coincide with the start of the show, which Citrix CTO Simon Crosby outlines in his blog.

The entry concludes with a graphic that notes, "You can't lock Xen in a 10x10", subsequently fueling rumors that VMware had asked Citrix employees not to leave their booth to demo products on the show floor.

Microsoft, too, had issues with this brave, new VMworld.

Patrick O'Rourke, Microsoft group product manager for Windows infrastructure, noted in a blog post that part of the exhibition agreement said:

Sponsors and exhibitors must market or demonstrate products on the exhibition floor and in the sessions which are complementary to VMware products and technologies. Complementary products and services are defined as products/services that do not overlap/substitute with VMware's products/capabilities, and help expand the reach and solution scope of VMware's capabilities solely as deemed by VMware.


As VMware expands its cloud offerings and Hyper-V continues to penetrate the low end, VMware faces heightened competition on all sides. A recent article in the New York Times described VMware as the No. 2 threat to Microsoft. Microsoft is a formidable opponent, and self-preservation is not of small consequence.

VMware certainly can set its own rules for the trade show it owns, manages and that bears its name. It is not in the trade show business, so it makes sense that much of VMworld's mission is about getting the word out. However, if VMware wants the show to be THE virtualization show, it cannot expect to win playing both sides of the fence. It's either all about VMware and the surrounding ecosystem, a la OracleWorld or Intel Developer forum, or it's about the technology, a la LinuxWorld. There's nothing wrong with either approach, but the atmospheres and aims are different.

VMware's News

VMware, of courses, had some news of its own to announce this week.

It took the wraps of the VMware vCenter Product Family solution set. The seven products in the suite interoperate with VMware vSphere 4, making it easier to manage and take advantage of its innate capabilities.

The modules within the solution set fall into two catagories, infrastructure management (VMware vCenter AppSpeed, vCenter CapacityIQ, vCenter ConfigControl and vCenter Site Recovery Manager) and service delivery management (vCenter Lifecycle Manager, vCenter Chargeback and vCenter Lab Manager), Leena Joshi, group manager of VMware product marketing, told ServerWatch.

One the surface this appears primarily a marketing rebundling. With the exception of CapacityIQ and ConfigControl, all of these products are available. CapacityIQ is scheduled to ship in in fourth quarter 2009, and ConfigControl is due out in 2010.

Joshi explained to ServerWatch that this positioning is VMware's way of presenting a "unified management vision that reflects our investment." The company wants customers to see that it is not just addressing specific pain points but rather is following a specific management strategy.

Aside from the two new products, from a customer perspective, very little changes. The products already integrate and interoperate with one another, and they will continue to be sold a la carte on a per-processor basis.

VMware also looked to SMBs. It is here many believe it faces the most competition from Microsoft. It announced partnerships with Intel and Dell and unveiled a beta version of VMware Go, a web-based service that will makes getting started with ESXi a pure point-and-click experience.

The free web-based service enables users to configure ESXi with just a few mouse clicks. VMware Go was developed in partnership with Shavlik Technologies, which is a member of VMware’s Technology Alliance Partner Program.

Cloud Ecosystem Expands

For those still not ready to tackle virtualization themselves, cloud computing options were on hand. Savvis, for example, took advantage of the show's timing and unveiled Project Spirit, "a next-generation cloud computing initiative," is how Savvis Chief Technology Officer Bryan Doerr described it to ServerWatch

When Project Spirit goes live in the first half of 2010, the platform will power what the company describes as an "enterprise-class Virtual Private Data Center (VPDC) with multi-tiered Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities."

VMware's vSphere and Cisco's Nexus 5000 and 7000 Series switches are the underpinnings for Project Spirit. Users can choose from three levels of availability for their various apps. A test and dev environment, for example, doesn't need the same level of reliability as mission-critical apps do, and users can buy support options that reflect this.

Many interesting announcements and discussions continue to emerge from the show, which ends Thursday. Next week's column will discuss some of these further. For now, here are some articles worth checking out:

Amy Newman is the managing editor of ServerWatch. She has been covering virtualization space since 2001, and is the coauthor of Practical virtualization Solutions, which is scheduled for publication in October 2009.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Sep 2nd 2009
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