VMworld 2008 Keynote – with Paul Maritz

Michelle DeFiore

Traveling towards VMworld 2008

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I, along with thousands of others, wended my way through a vast dimly lit cavern of a place helped along by the strangely surreal sight of ushers in black waving wispy red flags to guide us not to the empty seats in front of us, but to the ones 50 yards on. (Ah Vegas, my feet hurt already.) Perhaps the point was to live in the moment, soak in the pre-rock concert atmosphere complete with a hip and cool soundtrack ripped off from Apple commercials. (Do they all use the same ad firm?) A better way to build the anticipation for, yes, the kickoff keynote session at VMworld 2008

To the sounds of Hey Ya (Shake it like a Polaroid picture), we shifted forward in our uncomfortable temporary seating placed, as at all tech conferences, too close for all but the skinny girls. The moment was here – one of those videos started playing on the dozen or so huge monitors floating above the convention crowd. You know this video; you’ve probably seen it before from HP or someone like that. One of those videos with instrumental Coldplay music in the background with time lapse/speeded-up video of people in motion and floating captions dropping into the images that leave you with a slight smile on your face as you “get” the relationship between image and text. (Do they all use the same ad firm?)

And here he is, announced like a Vegas headliner, Paul Maritz, the new CEO of VMware. Hmm. After all that hype, I rather expected someone in a black turtleneck and jeans to come out. Instead here’s this guy with pleat-front pants and an admittedly cool accent (New Zealand?) who looks a little like Al from Home Improvement. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – everyone likes Al.

And then the real fun begins.

  • 30 years ago, Paul Maritz started off his business career as a developer
  • 10 years ago, VMware was founded by Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum (BTW, 10 seconds spent showing a slide with cartoon-ized images of the founders, “thanks for what you did for the company for the past 10 years”. 10 seconds after 10 years…but maybe more would have been hypocritical…)
  • a retrospective of centralized vs. decentralized computing initiatives from the 1960’s to today
  • of course VMware milestones from 1998 to today
  • and then an analyst-ready diagram showing the product roadmap (to be delivered in 2009) with, you guessed it, finally a connection between VMware and cloud computing (remember Maritz’s cloud-computing company was bought by EMC just a couple of years ago and that’s the section he headed up at EMC before being brought into VMware).

Forward Looking

2008 (and probably much of 2009) will be a very busy year for VMware. If you believe the roadmap, VMware seems to be taking on the management of everything – from chargeback and capacity planning to virtual storage and virtual networking (more to come on just what the planned vStorage and vNetwork will deliver) – but all of it VMware-centric. As we said in an earlier post, they’ve moved away from “defending” the hypervisor business proposition to focusing on management services on top of their own hypervisor platform. Revenue pressures must be excruciating – who wants to be a public company these days?

The best part of that new “Virtual Data Center Operating System” diagram/roadmap was the addition (and I mean addition) of something called Cloud vServices or vCloud. (Did anyone else find it odd that vCloud is kind of on its own in the Infrastructure vServices area? AND, I’ll have to get the other version of the diagram/roadmap I actually saw at the show because that one shows an inexplicable 4th box in the Application vServices area titled “…”. Really. Maybe to balance out the addition of vCloud?)

What was clear is that the move from VirtualCenter to vCenter –and the new vServices for rolled-up management of virtualization components/capability to span multiple VirtualCenters (or future vCenters) for reporting, monitoring and management at scale – has been in the works for a bit (but in tech time, that could mean 6 months), but the cloud stuff…not so much.

Beyond the very high-level speak appropriate to a keynote (100+ service provider partners for off-premise cloud…suspended VM’s that you don’t have to pay for until you need it), the details are uber-fuzzy. There was a session that Dave went to which was supposed to shed more light, but when questions were asked about how it really works, the answers seemed to be TBD. Does anyone know more? If VMware really has figured out practical cloud computing for enterprises, kudos to them. But I fear they’re like everyone else (except maybe AT&T) and are still working out the details.

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