I attended VMworld virtually this year. This means I stayed on the East Coast, while on the West Coast the 10th annual show—with the motto Defy Convention—unfolded for me on video, news reports and live blogs.
Since VMware was all about virtualization before embracing the cloud and software-defined data, a virtual trip to San Francisco seemed especially relevant as the Red Sox continued their winning ways in Boston.
Before I get into the main themes as seen from my virtual seat, it is important to note that the ability to attend these events remotely has dramatically increased in the past years. This year deserves a particular shoutout to the live streams and YouTube replays provided by the show organizers.
Also valuable are ongoing video interviews via John Furrier's SiliconAngle and the writing of eWEEK's own Chris Preimesberger, whose article on collateral damage between VMware and Cisco is a classic example of unearthing the big trends from the PR overload.
Event producers used to worry that providing too much of a live event via the Web would cut attendance. That worry proved without foundation as providing a first-class remote experience only encourages greater live attendance. I don't see much chance of an empty Super Bowl stadium even though millions of football fans watch the game on television and on the Web.
The theme of VMworld was really POLR (Path of Least Resistance) rather than Defy Convention. The path of least resistance for technology executives familiar with VMware for its virtualization capabilities and under pressure to develop a private-to-public cloud computing strategy is to build on the familiar while developing the future.
The virtualization of the server business was one of the biggest and least heralded successes in enterprise computing, which is littered with great ideas (client/server comes immediately to mind) that wouldn't scale or proved too costly to implement. Server virtualization, while not as hot as the current cloud computing buzz, saved money, proved easy to implement and saved lots of IT headaches.
Now, VMware is trying to take its compute heritage and apply that to the two remaining data center migraine creators: storage and networking. Moreover, by adding a common management umbrella over the entire data center, the promise of provisioning resources to meet demand, one screen to manage all the pieces and the end of arguments among server, network and storage administrators may be at hand.
In the big leap out of the data center to mesh in public clouds with private data centers, VMware is touting the ability to use the same techniques as in the private data center, but on the larger cloud playing field. This all doesn't sound like defying convention as much as employing a conventional—albeit a VMware-centric approach—to the hybrid cloud, which is the No. 1 priority on many CIO agendas.
A year ago, VMware was finally revamping a bizarre pricing program that had the result of penalizing customers for using more of the product. That's gone. A year ago, VMware was in the technology backwater of being the leader in server virtualization while the industry was rapidly moving to cloud computing.
Now VMware is offering a cloud path for customers willing to take a largely pure VMware approach to their data center operations. This will be no easy task, but reflects, as Chris Preimesberger wrote, an increasing vendor competition to be the source of all things data center rather than just one area of expertise. Perhaps it is the willingness for customers to consider VMware as their storage and network virtualizer to which the Defy Convention motto refers.
Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC Week) from 1996-2008, authored this blog for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.