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VMware: Been There, Done That

By John Katsaros

Sept. 23, 2015

See Part 2, VMware: Too Little, Too Late?

The recent VMworld 2015 was the 12th VMware developers conference — 1,200 attendees at the first conference has grown to 23,000 attendees. (Interesting note: storage company EMC controls three of the biggest conferences in the infrastructure business: VMworld, RSA with 33,000 attendees and EMCWorld with 14,000.)        

VMware traditionally uses the first day of the conference to show off a “killer demo” or open up new virtualization use cases such as Virtual Appliances and Motion.  One year Mendel Rosenblum, the Stanford professor and VMware’s most important co-founder, virtualized and ran an Exchange server by simply manipulating its memory pages — an amazing feat at the time. 

This year VMware didn’t disappoint. It showed off what it calls “Cross-Cloud Live Migration”;  think of it as VMotion for the cloud.  Cross-Cloud VMotion lets you move clouds around sort of like VMotion does for Virtual Machines.  FORTUNE calls it the “holy Grail” for cloud.  Imagine the ability to move an entire data center from one location to another that’s a thousand miles away while continuing to run live applications. Few details available as Cross-Cloud Live Migration is not yet a product, just a pretty cool demo.

It took fifteen minutes into VMware EVP of Worldwide Field Operations Carl Eschenbach’s keynote before any mention of the word container was used or as we like to call it – the “C” word.  He said VMware would have a “two-pronged strategy” for handling containers. It’s not clear what he is referring with the word “prong” but it can’t be good.  You don’t call something you really care about a prong, especially if there are only two of them.

The day one keynote focus was on infrastructure and how VMware plans to extend its infrastructure franchise into the cloud.  VMware wants to own the term “Software-Defined Data Center.” The company sees hybrid clouds as its vehicle for world domination.  It’s not clear how VMware will compete with containers.  VMware seems to want to slow containers down.  But it’s also not clear that VMware understands what it’s up against.  They talk about managing containers with their existing management tools. That’s unlikely due to the different characteristics of the environments. Virtual Machines run hundreds of VMs that have heavy loads while containers run light loads and can number in the thousands.

Day two of VMworld focused on enterprise software and things got weird.  VMware wants to be both the leader in the infrastructure market and the leader in end-user computing.  That’s not going to happen. They’ve got to pick one or the other.

Several keynoters used the tagline “Run Any App on Any Device.”  The trouble is, that tagline is already one of the most overused in the market.  The first page of a Google search has a sample: Microsoft’s Azure: Anytime, Anywhere; Google – Any Place, Any Time, Any Device; Cisco: – Any Device, Anywhere.  Even the cable TV network ShowTime uses similar language.

It’s not clear how this battle will be fought.  Will containers and Virtual Machines be compatible or is this a fight to the death?

Part 2, VMware: Too Little, Too Late?