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Microsoft declined to comment about its smaller booth space and inability to participate as a sponsor at VMworld 2009.
However, the company did point reporters to a blog posted on its Web site by "porourke," who appears to be a Microsoft employee, on Tuesday complaining that Microsoft will not be able to demonstrate some of its latest technology, including its new System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2, at VMworld 2009.
"But unfortunately, next week at VMworld 2009 we can't show SCVMM 2008 R2, or any other products, in our booth. You've probably read about it. In short, it's their show, it's not an industry show, and they set the rules. So we'll make the best of it; always lots of Microsoft customers and partners on the floor. Stop by the booth to meet some of the best/brightest minds at Microsoft," the blog read.
Rich Crusco, technologist at Citrix, wrote in an Aug. 7 blog posted on the Citrix Community that Citrix had planned to hold a Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP) Summit meeting during the month to announce new virtualization experts to the CTP program, but was forced to reschedule that meeting because of its contract with VMware for the VMworld 2009 conference.
Crusco said the VMworld contract signed by companies that have a booth at the conference had what he termed "some very interesting event tactics," including a clause specifying activities exhibitors are prohibited from doing.
That clause, Crusco wrote, reads, ""Exhibitor agrees that it may not use any Organizer event to leverage or promote any other event in which Exhibitor is a sponsor or participant, and therefore agrees that it may not, during the period from two days before until two days after the Event, conduct, promote, endorse, or sponsor any functions, classes, seminars, exhibits, or similar marketing activities within 50 miles of any event similar to the Event that is the subject of this agreement, other than Exhibitor's participation in the Event under this Agreement."
Crusco, in response to questions posted by readers of his blog, later wrote that such a clause seems to be standard industry practice.
"I have done some additional research and it turns out that this type of clause is standard in many event agreements including our Synergy 09 event. Citrix has never enforced the clause ( and to my knowledge neither has VMware ). We have asked our event vendor to remove this restriction for our Synergy 2010 agreement. Thanks to others who have provided feedback and details on their events," he wrote.
It is understandable that VMware might want to be careful about who sponsors the VMworld 2009 conference. Microsoft has been very vocal in its attacks on VMware and its technology as part of a push to promote its own Hyper-V offerings.
At VMworld 2008 at the Venetian casino and hotel, Microsoft was handing out flyers and $1 casino chips during the conference until VMworld personnel complained. The Virtualization.com website had more details about the event.
One IT channel observer, who asked to remain anonymous, said that VMware's pushback against Microsoft and Citrix's attendance at VMworld seems to have intensified after former VMware President and CEO Diane Greene was forced out of the company last year by EMC, which holds a majority of the company's stock.
Greene was more open to having competitors at VMworld in order to show how the company stacked up against them, the observer said. "She used to say at VMworld, 'We don't have to have our competitors here, but we do,' " the observer said.
The industry will judge whether it wants what Woodward termed a "proprietary" conference like VMworld, or an open-format event like Citrix Synergy, Woodward said.
"This is one of those situations where exhibitors and attendees will be the final arbitrator," she said.
For at least one of those attendees, the change is not a big deal.
Keith Norbie, vice president of sales at Nexus Information Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider and VMware partner, said of his company's hundreds of clients, only 1 percent to 2 percent are interested in virtualization technology from Microsoft or Citrix, mainly to have a second supplier.
Norbie said restricting the competition reduces the chance of "cat-fighting" at a conference. He also cited the example of Microsoft handing out flyers and chips at the Venetian casino and hotel.
"Microsoft was handing out poker chips and saying, 'Why gamble on VMware?' " he said. "The problem is, it's illegal for people to hand out poker chips in casinos."
VMworld's main goal is to show how to leverage VMware technology and to show new technology like vSphere 4, Norbie said.
"It's no different from how Microsoft treated its competition in the past," he said. "Now Microsoft and Citrix get to feel what it was like to be Novell back then."
Whether one agrees with VMware's tactics depends on their point of view, Norbie said.
"The vast majority of people going to VMworld are VMware fanatics, and want to focus on VMware," he said. "Others might want to compare VMware and Microsoft and Citrix in terms of their technologies and pricing."