I returned to Colorado late Wednesday (September 31)  from VMworld, 2011. This was my first trip to VMworld and time well spent, particularly in view of my most recent research on how/where end-to-end application management fits in terms of Cloud services deployment.

Las Vegas is always fun, and the event was based at the Venetian– bar none the best LV conference venue, IMO. The rooms are large and comfortable and the conference center and meeting areas are very intelligently planned and laid out—plenty of restrooms, elevators, and signage. The event itself was also MUCH easier to navigate than similar events at other Las Vegas venues, which are so huge and sprawling you have to walk 2 miles just to get to the conference registration desk.

A “hang out” area, complete with volleyball and badminton courts, sofas and “fake grass” lawns, was at one end of the show floor, offering both a gathering place and a nice way to take the load off for a few minutes. And, of course, collecting the swag felt like “trick or treating”, with one attendee tweeting he had 27 additional pounds in his bag going home than he had when he arrived.

Getting back to the work-related aspects of the event, the analyst track started Monday afternoon and went through Wednesday noon. Tod Nielsen, co-President of the Application Platform Group, briefed analysts on Cloud Foundry, VMware’s PaaS platform for building and hosting applications. Raghu Raghuram, Senior Vice President and General Manager discussed VXLAN extensible virtual networks. They extend traditional VLANs to handle additional MAC and IP addresses as VMS proliferate. Chris Young, Vice President and General Manager, End User Computing discussed multiple topics including Horizon Mobile, which is essentially virtualization for handhelds.

Other, more personal, high points included:

The Analyst presentation and keynote by Paul Maritz, VMware CEO: Paul is impressive, a real asset to VMware. It is clear he is fully versed on the technical and architectural aspects of his company’s products, and actively involved in product direction. For tech company executives, engineering background makes a big difference—and Paul’s intelligent insights are good examples of why this is true.

Keynote, analyst presentation, and 1:1 meeting with Jerry Chen, VP, Cloud and Application Services: Jerry is responsible for multiple key areas and is also very savvy about the challenges his customers are solving with VMware. In his keynote, Jerry discussed the need to modernize applications and streamline the application development process using design patterns and modern frameworks. He also stressed the need for “intelligent middleware” a fully instrumented fabric supporting modern virtualized applications.

Jerry observed that “more OS instances are running on hypervisors today than on hardware”. From an enterprise management perspective, the implications of this are significant. In many ways, virtualization software has become the “new” OS, providing a foundation for innovative capabilities—such as multi tenancy of production environments—that are simply not possible without it. For those who aren’t that familiar with VMware architecture, while its executes on bare metal VMware also extensively communicates with OS’s and software through the hypervisor. In effect, it sits between the hardware and the OS with “visibility” to both, and to applications.

One thing Jerry noted that I was not aware of is that VMware has quietly built on this visibility by instrumenting every product, including the entire vFabric stack, to deliver in-depth information about hardware, OSs, and applications. This provides a basis for powerful analytics and diagnostics and it’s likely we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg compared to what will come in future years.

The CA Technologies booth, where Andi Mann, a virtualization expert and ex-EMA Analyst (now Vice President of Virtualization Product Marketing at CA), was signing copies of his recent book. Co-authored with Kurt Milne and Jeanne Morain, who were also at the event, the book is entitled, “Visible Ops Private Cloud: From Virtualization to Private Cloud in 4 Practical Steps”. The book is somewhere on my desk, under the VMworld swag—a pile of t-shirts, USB Hubs, lighted bouncy balls, and bottle opener key chains. Once I get to the bottom of the pile, I’ll actually read it.

• Meeting with IBM’s “Hybrid Cloud Solution for the Enterprise” team. The product, announced on August 25, is based on the acquisition of Cast Iron Systems. Prior to the IBM acquisition, the Cast Iron appliance was known primarily as a centralized hub for real-time integration between disparate systems. Re-factored as a “Hybrid Cloud” solution, it connects, manages, and secures execution environments across heterogeneous systems. In doing so, it can also deliver live feeds of information flows, enabling real time reporting on business metrics such as daily sales or changes to key data.

Supported by advanced analytics, it is fully integrated with the Tivoli suite. It is available in two form factors, as a hardware-based or soft appliance

• Discussion with ASG SE on Cloud Factory. ASG’s CloudFactory solution took center stage at the ASG booth for obvious reasons. The solution incorporates standardized and secure user access, automated workflows for provisioning complex Cloud environments, and comprehensive tools for Cloud infrastructure design and builds. It also takes on the challenge of managing heterogeneous Cloud services, a “hot topic” capability as companies increasingly deploy applications that span heterogeneous Cloud or on-premise/Cloud environments.

I also had the opportunity to visit rPath (release configurations and packaging), Real-Status (HyperGlance plug-in for vCenter, 3D dashboarding technology), CIRBA (visualization and management for virtual and Cloud infrastructure), Precise (APM), BMC and Quest (APM and EUE), Electric Cloud (“Smart” Development Cloud), Infoblox (provisioning and management for private Cloud), and many other vendor booths. All in all, this was an informative and educational event for me, and one which drove home the realities of today’s “state of the art” Cloud services—and the value proposition of industry-wide events.

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