VMworld: VMware Has a Lot Riding on Its Trade Show

VMworld: VMware Has a Lot Riding on Its Trade Show

September 15, 2008

It's stating the obvious to say VMworld '08 is VMware's make or break moment right now. Questions loom large about whether VMware (NYSE: VMW) can hold fast to its leadership position and whether its management team is the one to keep it there.

VMworld is the biggest virtualization trade show out there and among the biggest IT trade shows at the moment. Its scope at this point is not limited to just VMware as more that 40 announcements involving VMware and partners are expected to be made at the show, Bogomil Balkansky, senior director of product marketing at VMware, told ServerWatch. In addition, Xen and Microsoft are exhibiting at the expo. Could we have entered an era of "coo-petition" in the virtualization market?

Still, it is VMware's show, and therefore it's not at all surprising that the vendor would grab the spotlight to announce its latest strategy: The operating system.

It's not talking an OS like Windows or Linux. Rather it's looking at an operating system that envelops the entire data center. Its goal, Balkansky said, "is to be to the data center what Linux or Windows is to a single server."

Virtual Data Center OS, or VCenter, is the next-generation flagship suite for VMware. But that is not the only change being announced. VMware also unveiled vCloud and vClient, which focus on exactly what their names imply (more on both those offerings below)

To some degree this is a realignment. While some of technology is new, much is already in place. Even vCenter, which is at the heart of the offering, stems from Virtual Center.

The Virtual Datacenter OS meanwhile, is designed to turn "a data center into an internal cloud." Balkansky said that this "differs from clustering because it goes beyond the servers to include switches and storage."

This is also the first product release to incorporate technology picked up in the Beehive acquisition last year. Now called AppSpeed, the technology formerly known as Beehive integrates capabilities and monitors response time and correlates it to expectations.

For external clouds (think MSPs and others that need to build large clouds that extend beyond the data center), VMware will offer vCloud. Balkansky likens vCloud to a channel, and thus has few concerns about cannibalization. He said he believes that in some cases VMware will pick up new business — for example, disaster recovery when no secondary site is available.

VMware is also unveiling vClient, a client virtualization program that carries few constraints other than the current VDI product. The key benefit to vClient is that the "virtualization layer will work when not online. It is no longer tied to a server," Jeff Jennings, vice president desktop products and solutions, told ServerWatch.

All in all, it's a massive undertaking for VMware, even with much of the underpinnings already available. As Microsoft revs up Hyper-V and Sun and Xen (not to mention Red Hat, Symantec, Oracle and others) continue to aim for the virtual, VMware needs to move fast to offer value beyond the now-commoditized hypervisor.

Whether this move will be akin to the previous decades Windows Empire dominance or the ill-fated IBM Workplace (anyone remember Workplace?) from early this decade remains to be seen.

Amy Newman jetted off to VMworld shortly after filing this report. She is the managing editor of ServerWatch and has been covering virtualization since 2001. She has never been to Las Vegas, however.