VMworld Builds Real-World Success Story

 
 
By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2007-09-14
 
 
 
SAN FRANCISCO—So, what exactly is the big deal about VMware and its annual show, VMworld, which just concluded here at the Moscone Center?

VMworld used to be the little guy; only 1,400 people four years ago, it registered 10,800 paying attendees this time, although it appeared there were many more than that at the event.

Now its a big guy, right up there in attendee interest with JavaOne, OracleWorld and LinuxWorld.

Why? Because this area of IT is where new ideas are pouring into the data center faster than Microsoft sends out Windows patches, thats why. Because everything discussed here is good for the data center, IT jobs, business and the environment—all at the same time. Hard to argue with that.

Weve seen this sort of hot-tech bandwagon excitement many times before. But one tends to think that virtualization really will have longevity. After all, this is where everything inside a desktop, server and data center becomes melded together into a unit that begins to think for itself.

As products from various companies show, that technology gives computers the intelligence to improve I/O usage (Xsigo Systems and another company called InovaWave), how to load balance and apportion storage intelligently (Scalent Systems, MonoSphere, Asigra, Onaro), how to get rid of redundant data that gums up the works (EMC Avamar, CA, Diligent Technologies, Network Appliance, a whole flock of others), and so on.

Thanks to virtualization, desktop computers, servers, storage boxes, switches, network appliances—all these powerful individual items that make up an IT system—simply become little icons on an administrators screen, ready to be manipulated like pieces on a chessboard.

Click here to read more about Xsigos I/O management technology.

As companies continue to merge or consolidate their compatibilities, so do the products they make. More and more functionality is being baked into processors, for example, that never would have been considered three years ago. Software capabilities continue to scale up. Solid-state drives made of improved NAND flash memory are taking over notebook and laptop computers; see Dell and Samsung about those so-called flashtops.

The result is lighter, faster, better-quality computing platforms all around. Eventually, well see virtualization becoming more mobile and consumer-mainstreamed; well carry one universal handheld unit that will show us whats on our workstation, home desktop, laptop or home entertainment center at any given time, and well be able to access any of those documents, photos, MP3s, spreadsheets, movies or other data within seconds. Well also be able to move files from one place to another via drag and drop.

If we media types heard it once, we heard it a dozen times at VMworld: "Everything is going to be virtualized someday." Maybe, but there still needs to be something physical as a backbone to all this stuff, and that means theres still a lot of work to be done.

Register today for Ziff Davis Enterprises Sept. 20 Virtual Tradeshow: Virtualization: Taking Control, Managing Growth, Exploring Opportunities.

Random thought: There might have been more storage companies at VMworld than virtualization companies. Storage virtualization is only in its infancy, so this was interesting to me, the eWEEK data center/storage guy.

Meanwhile, as we work up to all this futuristic digitality, companies are making news with incremental—albeit still very important—products.

To about VMware CEO Diane Greenes views on the rise of the virtualization industry, click here.

DataCore Software hit on a couple of hot topics at VMworld with one swing. DataCore announced that VMware users can now evaluate the cost-saving impacts of thin provisioning free of charge. DataCore is now offering a free-to-try, downloadable, storage server software package that can run on and thin-provision storage from VMware virtual machines.

By offering storage consolidation and thin provisioning as a complete package, DataCore said it gives users the "two-punch combination required to knock out inefficient storage proliferation and its damaging consequences to their businesses and our world."

Cisco Systems announced the integration of its VFrame Data Center software with VMware. This collaboration aims to give users new automation capabilities, including VMware ESX Server capacity on demand, as well as better-orchestrated configuration of network services. Customers benefit from faster coordinated provisioning of storage and network resources and improved business continuance, Cisco said.

Dell showed a mockup of a "two-socket, virtualization-optimized server" built on Advanced Micro Devices new quad-core Opteron server processors. Little detailed information was available; Dell was simply taunting media types with this new appliance, due out in Q4.

Overall, VMworld was obviously a newsy conference, and there was a crispness to the entire event because there was so much going on. The desktop virtualization "best practices" seminar in Room 102 on Sept. 11, one of the most popular of the show, was emblematic of this excitement. The line to get in went down the hall, around the corner, down another hall, underneath Howard Street and all the way to the entrance of the show floor.

Anybody who knows the layout at Moscone will know thats a long line.

Oh, yes: Best schwag show of the year so far, too.

Editors note: This article was updated to correct attendance figures in the second paragraph.

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