VMware Forum 2011 Dublin – And My 2 Cents

I decided to peek over the fence and registered for this event that ran yesterday.  I was really hoping to learn a little about vSphere 5.

On the positive side, VMware chose a great venue and it was very well dressed up.  There was also a very gut turnout with several hundred attendees.  And unfortunately, that’s where I end the + comments.

The keynotes kicked off.  The first one was some VMware Ireland bigwig who told us that VMware leads the way on management across the IT infrastructure.  We were shown a Gartner to back that up.  I’ll bite my tongue for a moment.  They were focusing on 3 strands:

  1. Private cloud: CIOs don’t want to throw away their data centre/computer room investments to go public cloud.  This is clever because this does not alienate people and it doesn’t threaten them with unemployment.  The public cloud message is that only 15% of apps will go there and VMware offers you a hybrid solution with lots of hosting partners.  With this “standards based” (with the “standard” being that all players would use ESXi for virtualisation) then you could have a hybrid cloud spread across private and several public providers, with no service provider lock-in.  It’s not that simple but it’s a nice concept.  I think they sold this well.
  2. Applications: The common message is that we recognize the priorities of the business.  Application and information – deployment/management/security/availability – are what they really care about.  I’ve been preaching this since I started talking about private cloud last year.  VMware have bought a bunch of point solutions and bundled them as vOperations Suite.  We saw nothing of it.  It smells like one of those awful enterprise management frameworks from the late 1990’s like CA Unicenter.  Integration came in the form of shortcuts appearing in a central control panel Smile
  3. End user environment: VDI! VDI! VDI! … in the form of VMware View.  Allegedly there would be no need to patch the user environment any more and you’d need less systems management.  Well, isn’t that special!

Then the second keynote started with some bigwig from VMware UK.  It was a repeat.  Break time, I mingled, and then went to a session on vOperations where I was tortured by a repetitive presentation (saying much of what covered in the keynotes and repeating itself over and over) and slide deck on vOperations.  The UK bigwig sat in the back and didn’t look too pleased at people paying more attention to their phones, iPads, or walking out.  I can absolutely confirm that I learned nothing from this session.  I wondered if the speakers were trained at the Stephen Elop school for presentation skills.

I was bored to tears.  And that’s when I decided to bail out before the free lunch and skip sessions from the platinum sponsors such as IBM, HP, and Cisco.  I was hoping for way more from this event.  I know for certain that I was not alone.

One thing became clear from this.  VMware are dreadful at communicating about what they sell.  They must really rely on their resellers to get the message across.

OK, let’s break some stuff down from my perspective.  I like how they sell the private cloud.  It’s pretty much how I sell it – but I don’t see it being pervasive.  I don’t see everyone needing a private cloud – it depends on who deploys business applications in the business and who manages the server infrastructure.

On  the application management side – which is the important part of the data center (and it pains me to say that), VMware are way behind Microsoft System Center.  SysCtr covers the entire stack from hardware to services with the user/service perspective, and it manages the entire lifecycle from deployment to recycling.  The newer focus on automation, compliance/governance, as well as consumerisation of IT (user centric computing) really puts System Center ahead of the pack.

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