VMware threw another great VMworld event this year. If you didn’t attend, you missed another step in VMware’s evolution toward being a very mainstream, enterprise-focused software vendor. They are at that stage as a vendor where they are reaching out beyond what they grew up doing and are trying to expand into something broader and different.
Last year, in my book, was a bit light on news (aside from explaining their early plans for SpringSource) and more about describing these big ambitions. This year, however, was about trying to look the part and making sure they had credible solutions and stories to tell their enterprise customers, thanks to a few well-timed acquisitions.
Oh, and I guess I should mention the cloud. VMware certainly did.
Ironically, VMware had INXS play their big party – who ended their show that night with their song “Don’t Change.” Fellow punster Greg Schulz pointed out on his StorageIO blog that the song title may have felt diametrically opposed to the message that VMware was trying to tell everyone all week. Maybe the title should have been “It’s Time for a Change and We Call It the Cloud.”
But, actually, I think INXS had it right. For more details on why, I put together an INXS-themed list of my take-aways for customers now that they’ve left Moscone and are finding themselves back from VMworld 2010, staring at their day jobs.
Here’s some help figuring out What You Need:
New Sensation: All the talk of cloud certainly came to a head. VMware definitely talked about it “in excess” at the event. Paul Maritz had lots to say both in his keynote and in his panel of service providers about their announcements, including the much-leaked and much-anticipated vCloud Director product (formerly known as Project Redwood). Industry-watcher Bernard Golden said he saw the cloud discussion accelerate very seriously in his CIO.com blog about the show, noting that not only were VMware and its partners taking the next steps to make cloud “more consumable in real-world environments,” but also that at the show there was a “palpable feeling that cloud computing represents the next platform shift in computing…but on a different software construct that abstracts and makes agile the previous generation of hardware.”
Things to watch out for? Bernard mentioned a favorite of mine that I bring up in any Cloud 101 discussion I have: the “one thing that wasn’t discussed much was the process and organizational challenge caused by implementing a cloud computing environment.” It’s a good thing to have help with (and, yes, that reminds me that I did get a chance to meet up with several of our just-joined 4Base consulting folks during the week).
Listen Like Thieves: Or, maybe: here are some suggestions on how to foil those thieves, especially when it comes to your IT environment. VMware acknowledged an important angle that customers have been talking about for a long time: security is a big issue for both virtualization and cloud computing. They bought TriCipher and announced vShield offerings, showing their interest in delivering solutions in this space. In fact, it was an action-packed week on the security front: CA Technologies also acquired Arcot Monday as the show was getting started.
Don’t Change: Back to my comment about how much change should be a part of your IT operations theme song. Look at it this way: before heading to San Francisco last week, those of you in IT had been worried about a big, complex set of management and operations issues. Spending a week hearing about the newest virtualization and cloud deliverables doesn’t change the reality of what you go back to. Don’t toss out your view of what’s important; instead, use those requirements to evaluate everything you heard last week.
Never Tear Us Apart: There is a virtualized world of IT, but there continues to be a physical world as well. Andi Mann (from CA Technologies) commented in IT World Canada that even though IT is now deploying more new virtual servers than physical ones, companies' infrastructures are still only about 30% virtualized.
Meaning, of course, that you still need to manage and optimize both parts -- the virtual and the physical. Together. The virtual world that VMware had you looking at closely for 4 days is not the sum total of your environment, so don’t forget to consider management, automation, and control capabilities that understand that, too.
Devil Inside: VMworld continues to serve as an industry gathering about virtualization – and now cloud. That’s very much to their benefit. It does provide an excellent meeting place for customers and vendors, but one in which VMware is very much in control of the discussion and topics. My suggestion: push back. I made some suggestions before the event about how to sort through the flood of announcements coming. Now’s the time to figure out what’s real from VMware and the other vendors. Make sure you have real opportunities to get hands-on. It’s the only way you’re going to find out what’s ready for prime time. It's the only way to find out what makes good economic sense for your business model as an enterprise or a service provider. It's also the only way to find out what does and doesn’t work at this point.
No matter how you look at it, the event was a Kick. (For a good summary of the event in addition to Bernard Golden's, take a look at this Network World article from Jon Brodkin and this blog post from CA's Stephen Elliot. For a take on "Why VMworld was Underwhelming," read Derrick Harris's GigaOM Pro write up [subscription required].) I’m glad to have used the event to meet up with the San Francisco Cloud Club folks once again. It’s a very cloud-savvy and interesting crew.
And, before this year’s VMworld begins to Disappear from the view, I’ll offer a tip of the hat and add my thanks to the folks at VMworld for hosting us all. It was certainly in their best interest to put on the show, and now it’s up to the rest of us to make sure it was in ours as well.