Thoughts on VMworld 7.0 and Virtualization 2.0

This article was originally posted on the VMware vCloud corporate blog. I am re-posting here for the convenience of the readers of my personal blog.

Yes that’s right, it’s the 7th year of VMworld. The event started years back as a small gathering of a few hundreds geeks. At least this is what VMware was expecting, in fact almost 1,500 individuals showed up in San Diego in 2004 for the inaugural show. I am proud to be one of those first attendees. At that time you could breath the “geeky” spirit of the event and how such a little and simple concept would have changed the way we do computing down the road. Yeah, you take an industry standard server, you install this little piece of software and you can install two or more standard Operating Systems. Boom! You’ve changed the world forever. There are times you listen to someone and have a “WOW” moment – I still remember the moment where, in a meeting with a big bank back a few years ago, I was telling a Veritas architect that we couldn’t install their HA clustering software because it was incompatible with vMotion. When I explained to him what vMotion was he laughed at me saying that I probably “misunderstood” what that technology could do because it was simply impossible to move on-the-fly a Windows instance from one server to another. Yeah, sure. Welcome to virtualization (1.0).

Then there’s a period where there haven’t been many “WOWs!”. Sure there have been a few (VMware Fault Tolerance comes to mind) but the titanic effect that the first wave of virtualization technologies delivered in the first place…we just haven’t seen it again (yet). And there are good reasons for that. As virtualization became more widely adopted, customers were obviously looking for more enterprise management surrounding the first wave of these highly potential technologies. This was the time when VMware concentrated more on the management side of things. I have never seen anyone attending an ITIL class stepping out screaming “Gee, this is the coolest thing in the world, I want to go home and read more about it RIGHT NOW!”; similarly I anticipated a certain level of “ah ok, interesting” when VMware announced a string of new technologies in that management area (I can think of CapacityIQ, SRM, not to mention all the Ionix portfolio VMware recently acquired from EMC). Don’t get me wrong: as much as none of the hypervisor geeks are going to “WOW” for the Ionix portfolio….we all very well understand that without such tools and an overall solid management strategy VMware wouldn’t be considered for what VMware would like to be considered, which is clearly not (just) the cool technology provider that keeps a geek up during the night. That (alone) is not what can bring VMware at the heart of the data center. Funny enough I’ve had a blog post in my drafts for more than a year whose title was “Virtualization is no longer sexy, it’s just useful”. More or less this is what I’d have discussed here so I’ll go ahead and delete the draft now.

This year it’s different though. VMworld 7.0 (i.e. VMworld 2010) is going to go back to some core geeky type of discussions around cloud technologies. While some of the cloud-related discussions are still around management (which needs to be because we want cloud to resonate to the enterprise as well) there are other “cloudy” topics really for the geek at heart. I am thinking about the concept of “location independence” that cloud will bring onto the table. That’s something I am going to touch on during my session at VMworld: Cloud 101: What’s Real, What’s Relevant for Enterprise IT, and What Role Does VMware Play. This session is really geared towards introducing the cloud concepts and certainly one of the most interesting concepts about cloud is that you could run your workloads…well…in the cloud! Where else?! If you are still wondering what this whole cloud thing is come to this session and you won’t be disappointed. And if you are, that’s fine. Just don’t fill up the feedback form. :-)

If everything goes well I may even be able to show you something during that breakout. Consider I can’t promise this will be as “WOW!” as vMotion, but rest assured it’s going to be more fun than an ITIL class! This is, in a way, Virtualization 2.0 being presented at VMworld 7.0!

Joking aside, the only problem I see is that some of these concepts (and technologies) are a bit hard to digest the first time you face them. At least this is what happened to me when I joined the vCloud team roughly 6 months ago. That’s the part I am struggling with at the moment: we are having some internal discussions on how to layout a few sessions and we are debating on how to better present the concepts and the products. You don’t want to be too kindergarten but at the same time you don’t want to go too deep and lose the audience in the first 30 seconds. Challenging.

That’s all I wanted to say for today; if you are a geek you may find VMworld 2010 a fun show. And if you are around stop by and say “ciao”.

Massimo.

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