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The Maturation of Virtualization Begins Right Here Right Now

When I attended my first VMworld a few years ago the excitement at the event was palpable. One could almost hardly wait until the opening keynote or to go to another breakout session because everyone innately sensed that whatever they thought they knew about how computer and/or data management was done could change dramatically as a result of attending yet another session and you dared not miss it. Fortunately or unfortunately, that experience changed at this year’s VMworld 2012 as its “Right Here, Right Now” theme implied.

VMworld is where the world of virtualization has its annual celebration. Yes, there are other providers of server virtualization (Citrix, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Red Hat and others) and other events but at the end of the day, VMware is the big dog on the block and everyone knows it. So when VMworld goes down every year in August, 20,000+ people trek in from around the world to show up at virtualization’s biggest event to pay their homage.

Except this year something unexpected happened. VMware failed to deliver the earth shattering, mind altering announcements in virtualization that had become almost common place at past events. Yes, VMware and its partners still announced new products and innovations that businesses and techies want and look forward to hearing about every year.

But at the end of the day and in terms of again radically changing how
people think about managing their infrastructure and their data and what
they can do with it and how they can transform everything again…
well, if just did not happen at this year’s event. I mean, if the best
VMware can come up with is, “We changed how we did backup in vSphere!!” I am like, “Huh?

This is not to imply VMworld 2012 was not a great show. It really was!  There were lots of end users there discussing how they were using virtualization to lower costs and better optimize their infrastructures. There were lots of vendors demonstrating how people could leverage their existing investment in VMware vSphere and make it even better.

Still, this news or lack thereof possibly explains the  “Right Here, Right Now” slogan used by VMware for this year’s VMworld 2012 show. After all, it certainly beats the heck out of promoting “The Thrill is Gone!” as I am sure that impression was the last one that VMware wanted to leave in the minds of people attending the event. However that is how I felt walking away from this year’s VMworld.

Now lest anyone think that I am the only one who thought that way (and trust me, I was concerned I was,) I inquired of a number of others at the event who also asked me to share my thoughts about the event. It was only after a few minutes of roundabout conversation that everyone began to share their true feelings about the event and they were almost always the same. Yes, it was still a great show. But in terms of the levels of technology innovation and excitement of past VMworlds it was simply not the same.

Yet at the end of the day, this lack of excitement or earth shattering announcements events may be exactly what users and the business world at large have been waiting to occur. Nothing is worse than being convinced you should buy or implement a technology and then three or four weeks pass and then another technology that is ten times better is released.

Maybe you all remember that Best Buy commercial from a year or two ago during the Super Bowl where it offered a future proof guarantee. In that ad, if explained how Best Buy protected you should you bought a new TV or whatever today and then something better came out a few weeks or months later. Using Best Buy’s Buy Back program, you could return the technology and Best Buy would buy it back so you could obtain the latest and greatest technology.

While that approach may work great for consumers, the last thing any business wants to do is implement a platform like VMware and then find out 3 – 12 months later that it is out of date and be again put in the position to have to do a massive upgrade. When businesses put in a platform like vSphere, they want some degree of certainty that no “earth-shattering, mind altering” changes are going to occur in the next 3-6 years, much less in the next 3-6 months.

For the first time, VMware provides them some assurance that its platform is reaching a level of maturity and stability that it arguably lacked prior to this year’s event. This is evidenced by the huge technology leap forwards vSphere seemed to take (and needed to take) every 12 – 18 months prior to VMworld 2012 to meet customer demands.

The lack of earth shattering, mind bending announcements at VMworld 2012 is probably a bit of a disappointment to many of the propeller heads in attendance. But for those who run businesses and make technology buying and investment decisions, this lack of buzz around vSphere may have actually been the signal they were looking for to initiate or expand their vSphere deployment more aggressively.

It suggests that VMware vSphere has reached a stage of maturity with sufficient features and functionality such that VMware can come to VMworld and say, “Hey, we changed how we are doing backup” simply because vSphere is the hypervisor platform of choice right here, right now and we can’t shake things up like we used to do.

These granular levels of change can be very re-assuring to many businesses as they may now worry less about being blindsided with some huge technology advancement that makes a recent investment almost immediately obsolete. Instead, VMware is signaling to businesses they can make a one-time investment in vSphere and realize its benefits and get a return on it for years to come.


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