Top 10 Takeaways from VMworld

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VMware’s VMworld conference has come and gone with a cavalcade of storage vendors putting their stamp on the show with product announcements, demonstrations and presentations for the more than 17,000 attendees. Beyond the product parade, there were some takeaways from the show that gave Enterprise Storage Forum a glimpse into what might be the future of a data storage industry transformed by virtualization and the cloud.

1. Storage Vendors Have Gone Ga-Ga for VMware

There seemed to be more storage vendors at VMworld than show up at Storage Networking World (SNW) as evidenced by the number of press releases that hit the wires this week from storage companies. The flood of storage news out of VMworld was far greater than the flow that used to happen at SNW a few years back.

“VMworld has become a focal point for storage providers,” said Greg Schulz, an analyst with StorageIO Group. “Storage vendors seem to be in race to see who is the most virtual.”

2. EMC Made A Very Smart Buy

Many analysts puzzled over EMC’s (NYSE:EMC) purchase of VMware (NYSE: VMW) a few years back. But had it not been for that acquisition, EMC would be on the outside looking in. It now stands front and center, with all storage and IT vendors lining up to be its friend. If the deal hadn’t happened, EMC would be in a long line behind Cisco, HP, IBM and a host of others vying for VMware attention.

3. VMworld Meets EMC World

Such is the cohesion of VMware and EMC that their trade shows now preach the same mantra. EMC’s tag line is “Journey to the Private Cloud,” while VMware’s is “Virtual Roads, Actual Clouds.” This leads me to believe that…

4. EMC World and VMworld Will Unite Within A Couple Of Years

I’m not sure how they are going to do it, but these shows might just merge. There is a fair amount of duplicative content (though things are certainly a lot more technical at VMworld), the overarching messages are very similar and they have the same corporate ownership. Gelsinger and Maritz are speakers at both shows. Maybe there will be west coast and east coast shows that will be termed EMC World and VMworld, but the content will become homogenized as time passes and the union between these two companies grows.

5. EMC is Far More Organized and Professional Than VMware

While they are essentially the same corporation, these companies couldn’t be more different. EMC’s shows are very well organized. Press, analysts and customers are largely kept in separate spaces. The agenda, keynotes and press conferences are well publicized, the press facilities excellent. VMworld in comparison was disorganized and chaotic. Keynotes were not listed on the website. Session schedules in the show guide did not include room numbers – a separate booklet had to be referred to for those, and it didn’t list all sessions.

6. Storage Needs VMware

That said, VMworld had a freshness and excitement that is sorely lacking at traditional storage events. The sheer buzz around virtualization will ultimately help storage vendors sell a lot of gear. For example, take all of the buzz around Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), mirroring, replication, deduplication and every other fad that has swept the storage nation over the last decade. Think about the storage sales that hype generated. Times that by 10 and you may have an inkling of the fever pitch that is the VMware phenomenon. It is almost as though a rock star arrived at the neighborhood pub to play a few songs. People will be talking about it for years.

7. VMware Has Gotten Too Complex – Simplification is A-Comin’

Once upon a time you just deployed VMware to turn a physical system into a virtual one. And then it morphed into ESX Server, vCenter, vSphere, and so on. It seems the v-vocabulary is expanding exponentially. vSentences were spilling out of the mouths of vGeeks throughout VMworld. Example: “Set up your vApps in vSphere then vMotion them to another vSphere host in the VMware cluster.” Or “set up your VDC (virtual data center) via VMware vCloud Director and view it in vCenter, making sure to vShield your VMs.”

This kind of lingo was also in evidence at a recent EMC Forum. Storage types better get used to this new language as it is sure to invade the storage domain more and more. At the same time, it surely has to be simplified if it is to achieve global domination. As it is, in reality, little more than plumbing terms, perhaps it will eventually be known as simply vStuff.

8. The Moscone Center in San Francisco is Even More Complex Than VMware

Perhaps as a tribute to VMware’s inherent complexity, the VMworld event was held in one of the most confusing and poorly laid out convention centers in the U.S. This rabbit warren with confusing mezzanines is spread across three city blocks amidst busy streets.

9. EMC is Going to Move Further Away From Hardware

EMC was all about hardware during the ‘90s. For the past 10 years, it has added software and services to its repertoire. It became very clear at VMworld that EMC is moving irrevocably into the virtual world. The hardware will remain there in the background as virtualized plumbing but EMC will eventually be selling services hosted in the cloud as its bread and butter.

10. VMware Moves to Services, Development Tools and Virtual Desktops

It isn’t enough that VMware develops the virtual secret sauce that everyone must use on the journey to the cloud. Now the company is expanding its reach into the cloud services area via its vCloud Data Center Service. It has released vFabric as a platform for the development of the latest generation of virtual applications, and VMware View 4.5 to make the desktop more portable.

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Drew Robb is a freelance writer specializing in technology and engineering. Currently living in California, he is originally from Scotland, where he received a degree in geology and geography from the University of Strathclyde. He is the author of Server Disk Management in a Windows Environment (CRC Press).

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Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb is a contributing writer for Datamation, Enterprise Storage Forum, eSecurity Planet, Channel Insider, and eWeek. He has been reporting on all areas of IT for more than 25 years. He has a degree from the University of Strathclyde UK (USUK), and lives in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

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