VMworld 2012 wrap-up report

Well another VMworld under the belt, for me it’s #5, I’ve been going every year since 2009 and it never gets old. VMware has record attendance every year except for 2009 with this year topping out around 21,000 attendees. I wonder where and when that number will finally peak, with Hyper-V gaining popularity I imagine it will only be a year or two away. Here’s the attendance numbers throughout the years:

  • 2004 VMworld conference held in San Diego, CA (1,400 attendees)
  • 2005 VMworld conference held in Las Vegas, NV (3,500 attendees)
  • 2006 VMworld conference held in Los Angeles, CA (6,700 attendees)
  • 2007 VMworld conference held in San Francisco, CA (10,800 attendees)
  • 2008 VMworld conference held in Las Vegas, NV (14,000 attendees)
  • 2009 VMworld conference held in San Francisco, CA (12,500 attendees)
  • 2010 VMworld conference held in San Francisco, CA (17,000 attendees)
  • 2011 VMworld conference held in Las Vegas, NV (19,000 attendees)
  • 2012 VMworld conference held in San Francisco, CA (21,000 attendees)


Here’s a summary of what I saw and heard this year:

  • vSphere 5.1 is announced and on display at the show, this is just an incremental update but it still has some cool enhancements. It will be available on September 11th.
  • Lots of cool new VDI stuff coming soon, VMware’s embedded phone hypervisor (MVP) dream appears to be dead to be replaced by apps and VDI on smartphones. Horizion Mobile was shown off but it seems like it is perpetually on the horizon.
  • vRAM licensing is dead, enough said, bad idea to begin with that came back to bite VMware in the butt. You won’t find a news release from VMware on it and it was only briefly mentioned in the keynote but go read the updated licensing white paper.
  • New cloud suites announced, VMware doesn’t want you to buy just vSphere & vCenter Server anymore so they are packaging the companion products into cloud suites. If you’re a Enterprise Plus customer with current SnS you get a free upgrade to the vCloud Standard suite that gets you vCloud Director and some vShield components.
  • The future of storage in vSphere was shown off again with the new Virtual Volume (vVols) along with Virtual SAN (vSAN) and Virtual Flash (vFlash). vVols represents a lot of development work and is a big change to the vSphere storage architecture. We’ll have to wait and see if VMware is able to pull this one off. You’re not going to find out a lot of information on this stuff, VMware showed it as a tech preview at VMworld but you’re probably not going to see or hear about it again until it’s released.
  • Bring Your Own Desktop ( BYOD) for VDI is out and replaced with Spend Your Own Money (SYOM), I like it.
  • VMware’s whole model for the future is the Software Defined Data Center where the entire physical data center becomes virtual. This includes traditional physical components such as storage and networking. You still need physical components but VMware wants to dumb down the hardware and place the intelligence and manageability inside the virtual layer. Since VMware is a software company that makes no money on hardware that makes sense, I can see the advantages from an integration and manageability standpoint but they are putting a lot of overhead on the hypervisor but doing it. One of the advantages of features like VAAI is being able to offload specific operations to the physical hardware which can do it more efficiently and now they want to bring it back into the hypervisor.
  • VMware’s Next Generation Client, a fancy name for the flex based web client is finally ready for prime time. VMware has been trying to develop it for quite some time now so it could replace all the functionality that the C++ based vSphere Client provides.  Just like ESXi finally replaced ESX, the NGC is ready for use and VMware expects everyone to start using it, you can bet that this is probably the last major release of vSphere that includes the vSphere Client. The NGC has one big advantage that replaced a common gripe, you can use it on any operating system, not just Windows like the vSphere Client was limited to. You don’t really have to use it in this release although there are a few things that require it like vDP but you should get familiar with it now so you are ahead of the curve. You can read more about it in this white paper.
  • VMware took the wraps off their new integrated backup product that replaces vSphere Data Recovery (vDR) that was introduced in vSphere 4.0 as a simple, integrated backup product for smaller customers. vSphere Data Protection (vDP) is the new product and it’s really just Avamar with a new name and coat of paint. Unlike many of their other products that VMware acquired, vDR they developed in-house. VMware probably felt that rather than try and dump all that development effort into a product that many customers don’t even use was a waste. However they felt that they needed to check the box for built-in backup capabilities in vSphere so they took EMC’s Avamar and used it’s engine, put a new wrapper on it, changed the name and replace vDR with it. Now this move may be more convenient for VMware but it’s sure to piss off their partners that compete in that space like Veeam and Symantec. Having a enterprise-class backup product built-in to vSphere could potentially take business away from their partners. vDP has limits though and doesn’t scale well but it’s still a much better product than vDR, especially with it’s built-in de-dupe. As expected it caused a big uproar on the internet, I felt VMware should have been very low-key about it and not even mention the name Avamar to be sensitive to their partners but they chose to keep calling out Avamar at VMworld. EMC was beating their chests to show how proud they were that Avamar was embedded into vSphere. In fact they chose that as their 4-minute demo during the keynote as if to thumb their noses at the competition and rub salt in the wound. I attended a session on vDP so stay tuned for more on it. Before you choose to use it though I strongly encourage you to check out Veeam Backup & Replication instead, you won’t be disappointed.
  • I received an invite to VMware’s exclusive Office of the CTO reception. This is the 3rd year for it at VMworld, it evolved from a gathering that was exclusively for vExperts into a more general gathering with vExperts making up a large portion of the attendees. There were some big names and big talent at the event, many of the product management, lead engineers and top brass were in attendance. Pat Gelsinger was there hanging out and talking to everyone, I was able to meet him and shake his hand. All in all a great event and a great opportunity to meet those people in a casual setting.
  • Having judged the Best of VMworld the previous 3 years I was curious to see who the winners were this year. I was surprised to see many companies that I’ve never heard of win this year, especially in Management and Security. With Hardware for Virtualization all the winners were small storage players, just goes to show that storage for virtualization is hot. You can read about all the winners at Tech Target’s website.
  • I happened to be sitting next to Mike Laverick in the Hang Space when he whipped out his iPhone and dragged me into a mini-wag, you can view it here.
  • Jon Bon Jovi played at the official VMworld party, I was very excited to see him being a Bon Jovi fan but was very disappointed afterwards. Maybe only a quarter of his songs were actual Bon Jovi songs, the rest were all cover songs from other bands. Sounds like he didn’t get to keep much in his divorce from Bon Jovi.

Well that’s it, I probably forgot a few things which I may add to this post later. All in all a good show and can’t wait for next year. Also wanted to call out the good folks over at SolarWinds who sponsored me for this event, be sure and check out their great VMware management solutions.

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