VMworld: VMware Ditches vRAM Licensing, Unveils Cloud Suite, Changes CEOs

VMware changed CEOs, officially ditched its vRAM licensing scheme and unveiled a vSphere-based integrated cloud software suite in its Monday morning opening keynote at VMworld 2012 in San Francisco.

Paul Maritz, who has grown VMware's revenue from $1 billion to more than $4 billion in his four-year tenure as CEO, kicked things off with a brief farewell address to the crowd of around 20,000 VMware enthusiasts. Before exiting the stage to a standing ovation, Maritz introduced Pat Gelsinger, his successor and longtime industry colleague.

Maritz described Gelsinger as "passionate and intense" and jokingly warned the audience to be prepared for his higher-octane approach to running a company.

"No one can accuse Pat of being laid back. Fasten your seat belts for the next four years," Maritz said with a wry smile.

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As first reported by CRN last month, Gelsinger is taking over as VMware CEO Sept. 1, with Maritz moving to EMC to take the newly created role of chief strategist. Maritz will keep his spot on VMware's board of directors.

Gelsinger confirmed that VMware will get rid of vRAM licensing in its upcoming release of vSphere 5.1 and will return to its previous CPU-based licensing model.

vRAM, which debuted last year with vSphere 5, placed limits on the amount of memory customers could allot to virtual machines and was unpopular with customers and partners both for the complexity and higher costs it created.

"Last year we created a four-letter dirty word called vRAM; ... we are now striking this word from our vocabulary," Gelsinger said, triggering a thunderous round of applause.

Microsoft is simplifying its licensing in Windows Server 2012, and VMware's move to ditch vRAM is widely seen as a bid to do the same. However, in a press conference following the keynote, VMware CMO Rick Jackson denied that Microsoft had any influence on the decision.

"You cannot compete with Microsoft on price; ... you compete with Microsoft on value," Jackson said.

NEXT: VMware's New Integrated Cloud Suite

VMware is bundling vSphere with several of its management, networking, security and storage products in a new integrated offering called vCloud Suite 5.1. In addition to selling it as a single SKU, VMware will continue to develop and update vCloud Suite 5.1 holistically, a strategy that Gelsinger compared to the "tick-tock" chip development model he helped drive during his 30 years at Intel.

Under a promotion that runs until the end of the year, VMware vSphere Enterprise Plus edition customers will get a free upgrade to the vCloud Suite 5.1.

VMware has been heading in the direction of a single cloud SKU for the past couple of years, and in a press conference Monday, CMO Rick Jackson said customers will benefit from the predictability of vCloud Suite development.

"It's up to us to bring together all these components, integrate them and then rev them each year," Jackson said in the press conference. "We do all the heavy lifting of keeping these things integrated and coming out as a single SKU on a regular basis."

VMware also unveiled Cloud Ops, a set of IT education and advisory services delivered by consulting and integration partners that aim to help customers deal with process and control issues on the road to cloud computing. Gelsinger described Cloud Ops, and VMware's recent acquisitions of Nicira and DynamicOps, as part of VMware's strategy of working with other vendors' clouds.

"It's a multicloud world," Gelsinger said in the keynote. "Sadly, there are other pockets of infrastructure we have to support."

VMware's Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service was a first step down this road. Cloud Foundry is currently in beta and will go into production in the fourth quarter, and VMware is planning to roll out a private cloud version next year, Gelsinger said.