Kicking off the highly anticipated VMworld show, still-new CEO Paul Maritz outlined broad plans for VMware's role from the cloud to the client, and had a few laughs at his own expense.
Noting that during his tenure at Microsoft, he evangelized client/server computing, and VMware is helping to clean up the resulting server mess, he said "In some ways, I get to be the beneficiary of my own sins."
The big news here at VMworld centers around three themes, Vmware's new Virtual Datacenter OS, a new vCloud initiative, and a new vClient iniative, which will extend VMware's VDI desktop technology.
The need for a datacenter OS is clear, Maritz said, to provide a new level of abstraction between the apps and the hardware. This needs to be an "elastic, self-managing, self-healing substrate," he says.
VMware has struck partnerships with Intel and Cisco to ensure that issues like using vMotion to move VMs to clouds without chip concerns and managing virtual and physical switches stay reasonable.
Interestingly, Maritz hailed application frameworks like Ruby on Rails as the future of app development, not Windows, and noted that VMware will ensure such frameworks have access to the datacenter OS.
VMware's virtual center suite of management tools will morph into a larger offering called vCenter, and will allow federated services with companies such as BMC, CA, HP and Tivoli, blending VMware data in with their existing system management tools.
On the cloud side, Maritz showed a refreshing lack of hype in his presentation, noting "Everybody has caught cloud fever in 2008." Vmware's vCloud initiative involves more than 100 service provider partners such as BT, Verizon and Sungard, and open standards to help IT managers understand which of their apps will run effectively in the cloud provider's setting.
As an example, Maritz demonstrated how an IT manager might set up a SugarCRM virtual application quickly, run it on internal servers, but set up a service level agreement that users need to se the app within 4 seconds of clicking, and contract with a cloud provider so that if that didn't happen, the app would "burst" up to the cloud service. The ide is the IT department pays only when the service actually kicks in.
On the desktop virtualization side, Maritz took a subtle and indirect jab at Microsoft, saying that competitors have "followed our tail lights into server because that's where the money was," but that VMware has focused on desktop virtualization for 10 years and continues to do so.
There wasn't much surprising news on the desktop side, but the audience was intrigued to see Maritz hint at VMs running on PDAs and phones, and to see him demo this on an unrecognizable Samsung PDA.
In closing, Maritz tried to put on his humor hat again, telling the audience he knew they had one more question, "Will it be moist and chewy?", alluding to the kicker line in the recent Microsoft/Seinfeld ads.
All in all, Maritz did not make any game-changing moves in this speech, nor did he break any big suprises. But he had warned pre-VMworld that it was too early in his tenure to do that.
He also stayed away from playing attack dog to Microsoft, and didn't mention rivals Citrix or Sun.
What he did present was a calm vision of how VMworld will play nicely with management software vendors, and simplify the deployment of cloud services. That's likely a welcome change for IT managers who've heard plenty of attacks and FUD in the last few weeks.
Still, with the recent departures of key VMware executives, Maritz still has plenty of reassuring to do.
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