Mental Ward

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The VMworld 2015 Experience: Day One

This week, more than 23,000 attendees descended on San Francisco's Moscone Center for the 12th annual VMworld, the virtualization industry's biggest party. Here are some notes and observations from day one:

  • First, the number of attendees is a new record. The day one keynote mentioned that the very first VMworld, held in San Diego, had about 1,200 attendees. So for those who were wondering if interest in virtualization is on the wane, those kinds of numbers should put those fears to rest.

  • Related to that is the number of journalists covering the event. At an early press conference on Monday, the main press room was overflowing with journalists and analysts. I'm sure there were more than 150 in the room, and not all the journalists that cover the show attended the event. This is my fifth VMworld, and I don't remember this large a contingent of reporters. (Another related note: The amount of space set aside for journalists and analysts at the keynote was far short of what was necessary.)

  • At the press conference, I asked a question about vCloud Air, VMware's hybrid cloud platform. It was about the Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure dominance of public cloud, and what VMware needs to do to make its offering a legitimate player in this space.  VMware's Bill Fathers, EVP and GM of Cloud Services, said he "disagreed with the premise" of my question, then went on to discuss how good the vCloud Air technology is and how it's growing.

    When Fathers was done answering, the journalist next to me whispered that Fathers didn't answer my question. I talked to a prominent analyst afterward and he said the same thing. The reality is that no matter how good vCloud Air is, it's still in the "other" category for public cloud, well behind AWS and Microsoft.

  • The day one keynote didn't feature CEO Pat Gelsinger. I'm used to a company CEO doing the first keynote -- it's typically the most well-attended one, and also where the company discusses its broad vision. (This may be typical for Gelsinger; if it is, please let me know. Gelsinger is giving the closing keynote address Tuesday morning.

  • There were many announcements made at the keynote, but what struck me most was that there was almost nothing new unveiled. Instead, the company touted lots of upgrades to its cloud infrastructure products, its vision of the software-defined datacenter (SDDC), better automation and management capabilities and new opportunities for development, among other announcements. Overall, though, there was no "wow" moment.

    That isn't to say that that the announcements aren't important; they are. But in terms of announcements that knock you out, it just wasn't there. VMware is moving ahead in important ways, and it seems clear that it's still a vibrant, innovative company that isn't afraid of change (that was obvious in its complete and total embrace of container technology, which it spent a lot of time on in the keynote presentation). But the applause from the audience during the keynote was mostly polite and muted for good reason.

Posted by Keith Ward on 08/31/2015 at 1:04 PM


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