Five Lasting Impressions From VMworld 2011

VMworld 2011, the unofficial Super Bowl of virtualization and cloud computing, took place last week in Las Vegas. In addition to putting a sizable dent in Sin City's hotel vacancy rate and bringing together a veritable galaxy of VMware partners, VMworld gave 19,000 attendees a chance to see what's coming on the product front, straight from the horse's mouth.

Actually, there were no actual horses at VMworld, but there were plenty of memorable parts of this year's event, and here CRN offers five notable examples.

1. All Quiet On The vSphere 5 Licensing Front

The changes VMware made to vSphere 5 licensing in early August have apparently had their intended effect. VMware CEO Paul Maritz didn’t mention the issue in his VMworld 2011 keynote, and CTO Stephen Herrod jokingly said he'd heard talk about a "vRAM of doom".

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Maritz did address the vSphere 5 licensing brouhaha in a roundtable with VMware channel partners at the event, in which he described software licensing in general as "a land of unintended consequences".

Meanwhile, Microsoft tried to stoke the vRAM controversy at VMworld by once again noting the cost advantages of Hyper-V server virtualization. But based on discussions CRN had with VMware partners, customers have, for the most part, accepted the new licensing model.

2. End User Computing Steals The Show

After hammering a message of cloud computing at its Partner Exchange event in February, VMware shifted gears at VMworld 2011 and spent more time focusing on desktop virtualization and its expanding array of end user computing products. VMware's goal is to make virtual desktops function in a way that's indistinguishable from physical ones.

In View 5, VMware's latest desktop virtualization release, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor has teamed with Cisco and Mitel on integrating unified communications. View 5 also includes View Media Services, a set of features that includes 3D graphic support for Windows 7 Aero and Office 2010, as well as support for 3D applications that use DirectX and OpenGL.

Another new product, Horizon Mobile, uses virtualization to split a work-issued smartphone into personal and company workspaces.

"The goal of Horizon Mobile is to not have to carry two phones and to be able to separate personal from work," Raj Mallempati, VMware's director of product marketing for Enterprise Desktop Solutions, told CRN at VMworld.

Next: Cloud Fever -- Everyone's Getting It, Including VMware

3. VMware: It's True, We've Got Cloud Fever

Although much of VMworld was about end user computing, VMware also acknowledged that its executives are spending a great deal of time thinking and talking about cloud computing, and that its marketing messaging carries this unmistakable tinge.

"We're not immune from cloud fever -- we also tend to use this term a lot," VMware CEO Paul Maritz said at the event.

4. Maritz Marvels At vSphere 5's Good Behavior

Maritz, who spent 14 years at Microsoft, said at VMworld that vSphere 5 was the first application he's ever been involved with that hit every development milestone and shipped on schedule. That's no mean feat considering that vSphere 5 required more than one million hours of engineering and two million hours of quality assurance testing, according to Maritz.

All of this work, Maritz said, gives vSphere 5 a level of performance and reliability that makes it ideal for the rigors of the next generation data center. "This type of software has to become just like hardware," Maritz told VMworld attendees.

5. Cloud Foundry: A Link To Younger Developers

There's been an industry-wide revolt against development complexity, and this is driving developers toward newer frameworks like Spring, Ruby and Node.js, Maritz said at the event. Cloud Foundry, VMware's platform-as-a-service, is VMware's vision for how cloud apps will be developed in the future.

"In a cloud-based world, there's really a danger that we might go back to the mainframe era," Maritz said in his VMworld keynote. "We don’t believe the cloud environment should be like that. We believe that the Cloud Foundry layer will be, to use the term loosely, the next Linux."

Cloud Foundry's support for emerging frameworks will likely make it appealing to younger developers, according to Maritz. "We think the majority of next generation apps will be written by people under the age of 35," he said at the event.