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VMworld 2014 Day 1 Wrapup

The good and bad from virtualization's biggest party.

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was a long, exhausting and productive day at VMworld here in the City By The Bay. What follows are my random thoughts about this, that and the other.

  • VMware knows how to throw a conference. The show, with more than 22,000 attendees this year, is well organized. There's plenty to eat and drink (although they did run out of coffee in one area yesterday morning – not a tiny oversight for this caffeine addict). The navigational signs are where they should be, and helped me find my way around. The P.R. folks are on top of things, too; always a plus for a journalist.
  • Checking in and getting my show badge was remarkably easy. I haven't been to VMworld for years, and with this big an event, I figured I'd be in long lines with the rest of the sardines. Didn't happen – I did a self check-in, headed to the press registration desk for my badge, and picked up my official backpack with my press materials all within five minutes. I mean, wow.
  • The keynote was entertaining and informative, if a bit subdued. CEO Pat Gelsinger spoke at length, and I'd never heard him before. He's more Bill Gates than Steve Ballmer in terms of his presentation – cerebral and precise, less of a cheerleader. Not a bad thing, just different.
  • As for the announcements, I was surprised there wasn't more reaction from the crowd. A lot of new stuff was revealed, and much of it looks quite interesting. I wonder if the muted response to most of it was because Gelsinger isn't particularly dynamic onstage, or that the products announced didn't thrill the crowd. I didn't expect a Steve Jobs-like fanboy reception, but there was literally silence for most of the announcements. Strange.
  • Lots of emphasis during the keynote on bravery. It didn't work for me. I understand the thought behind it, but it's not brave to move to the cloud or implement software-defined whatever. It either makes business sense or it doesn't. It either helps or hurts your company's bottom line. It's not about being brave (if you do implement a big change) or cowardly (if you don't). It's about smart, well-informed analysis.
  • I felt the same way about the overarching theme of "No Limits." Yes, it's inspiring and may make some attendees feel like they can do anything. But everyone here knows there are limits – limits of money, of resources, of time. Everything's a tradeoff. The question is, as always, which sacrifices do you make for which potential benefits? Maybe it's just that I've never been a rah-rah kind of guy, but general-purpose slogans don't make me want to take on the world.
  • The show floor is gigantic, and well laid out. There would be no way to see every vendor on the floor, unless you spent every moment the floor was open going from booth to booth.
  • If I was working for a storage vendor, I'd be honing my pitch to attendees. There are a mind-boggling number of storage companies here, and standing out from the crowd will be the key. The numbers shouldn't be surprising, I guess, since storage is one of the pillars of virtualization, but it was staggering to me (again, probably a function of my long absence from this industry). Making your storage solution stand out from all the rest is a real challenge, and I don't envy those floor workers having to do it. The upside is the choices available; if you don't find a product that fits your exact needs, I suspect it's because you're not looking hard enough.
  • I forgot how big Moscone Center is. I'm glad I wore my running shoes.
  • I'm looking forward to Day 2.

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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