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VMware 2009: Never a dull moment

Read about all of VMware's major moves in 2009, including new executive hires, UCS, VMworld, and many new product releases including vSphere and View 4.

Virtualization Viewpoints is a semi-monthly column that discusses current VMware- and virtualization-related trends, news and topics. Here we offer opinions and viewpoints on the competitive, quickly growing and ever-changing virtualization industry with a focus on VMware, the current virtualization market leader, which is in an ongoing battle to remain on top and distance itself from its competitors.

2009 has come to a close, and for this edition of Virtualization Viewpoints I thought I would look back over 2009 and review VMware's moves. Overall I think VMware had one of its best years to date despite an ailing economy. VMware managed to have good revenues and had several major product releases this year. Perhaps the biggest event of the year was the release of vSphere, the anxiously awaited successor to VMware Infrastructure 3 (VI3).

January: VMware hires Chief Operating Officer
The first quarter of 2009 was rather uneventful for VMware, mainly because it had many product updates and new products in development that were to be released later in the year. In January VMware created a new Chief Operating Officer role and hired industry veteran Tod Nielsen from Borland Software to fill it. Tod reports directly to CEO Paul Maritz whom he worked with during his tenure at Microsoft. Tod's focus is on the business aspect of VMware including marketing and operations and takes that burden off of Paul who can focus on the direction of the company.

February: vExpert Awards, VMworld Europe
In February VMware's John Troyer announced the recipients of the newly created vExpert awards. The vExpert program is similar to the Microsoft MVP and recognizes those individuals that go above and beyond simply using VMware's products, freely sharing their knowledge and experience working with VMware products with other users and members of the VMware community. The group of 300 people selected for this included many well known bloggers, user group leaders, VMTN community users and VMware evangelists.

Also in February VMware held its second annual VMworld Europe show in Cannes, France. VMworld Europe was designed to be a smaller scale version of VMware's big annual North American show and replaced the annual VMware TSX (Technical Solutions Exchange) show that was held each year. A total of 4,700 people attended VMworld Europe 2009 which was slightly higher than the previous year. It was found out later in the year that VMworld Europe in 2010 would be moved to October right after the North American show and held in Copenhagen.

March: VMware and Cisco announce UCS
March brought a new original equipment manufacturer agreement between Cisco and VMware called UCS or Unified Computing System, integrating the server and the network in an energy efficient system, which some believe to be the future of virtualization. Meanwhile, VMware also announced a new Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer, Richard McAniff. McAniff previously worked for Microsoft, where he was responsible for tools such as Access and Excel, and oversaw development of many Office releases.

April: VMware unveils vSphere
April is when things finally started to get exciting as VMware officially unveiled vSphere, the long awaited successor to VI3 at a launch event hosted by Paul Maritz. VMware provided technical and licensing details on the new release to the public and allowed bloggers who had access to the beta to start talking about it. While Paul did show off a gold disc at the launch event indicating that vSphere had gone GA, he did not provide a release date for vSphere; the general speculation was it would be coming out in the next month. VMware also announced their first quarter financial results in April which included $470 million in revenue, an increase of 7% from the first quarter of 2008.

May: VMware delivers vSphere, announces Enterprise Plus
May found everyone anxiously awaiting the GA release of vSphere, and VMware delivered it on May 20, almost exactly one month after the launch event in April, and almost three years after the initial release of VI3. This release was VMware's biggest release to date and was packed with new features and enhancements that proved vSphere to be a very worthy successor to VI3. VMware restructured its licensing for vSphere, and many customers were disappointed to find out that a new high-level edition was added (Enterprise Plus), which current Enterprise customers were not entitled to without paying a license upgrade fee.

June and July: School's out for summer
With vSphere finally out the door and into the hands of customers VMware shifted its focus to the development of other products such as Workstation, Fusion, View and the upcoming VMworld show. June and July were relatively quiet months, and most customers were still trying to absorb the new vSphere release. VMware did a great job helping with this by providing many great webcasts each week to assist customers with vSphere's new features and upgrading to vSphere. VMware also released its second quarter financial results in July with revenues of $456 million, equal to that of the second quarter of 2008.

The end of July brought The Thrilla in California: Debating Hypervisor Performance between Scott Drummonds of VMware and Simon Crosby of Citrix. This event was held as part of Burton Group's Catalyst Conference and was hosted by Chris Wolf of Burton Group. Opinions varied on who won the debate; Steve Chambers from Cisco cast his vote for Scott Drummonds.

August: VMworld 2009, VMware Go, vCloud Express, SpringSource
August was an exciting month as VMworld 2009 was held at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. VMware had plenty of announcements in the days leading up to the show including the new VMware Go service, vCloud Express partnerships and the SpringSource acquisition. This was the sixth year for the annual conference, the largest virtualization show in the world.

After some shenanigans from competitors last year VMware chose to be a bit more restrictive this year for products that compete directly with VMware's own products. In essence VMworld, which in previous years was considered more of a general virtualization conference hosted by VMware, had become VM(ware)-world because of increased competition from Microsoft and Citrix.

That said, if you went there to network, learn and find out more about VMware-related products you were not disappointed as VMware employees, vendors and partners showed up in force. Approximately 12,500 people attended VMworld this year, down from 14,000 the previous year, but expected with the current economic situation. While there were no "wow" announcements this year there was still plenty to take in at the show, and as usual there was too much to see and do and so little time to do it in.

September: SpringSource acquisition completed
September was a quiet month once VMworld had ended and many were still recovering from the exhausting show. VMware did complete the SpringSource acquisition in September, which (as mentioned earlier) was first announced in August.

October: Workstation, Fusion, Player
VMware focused on the desktop side of its product line in October by releasing major updates to Workstation (version 7), Fusion (version 3) and Player (version 3). Workstation included many new features including the much desired ability to run ESX natively as a virtual machine. Player was finally given the ability to create new virtual machines making the free product even more useful. VMware also announced that there had been over 500,000 downloads of vSphere since it was released back in May. VMware released its third quarter financial results in October which included revenue of $490 million,up 4% from the third quarter of 2008

November: VMware View version 4, vSphere U1
November was again about the desktop as VMware released VMware View version 4 which included support for vSphere and its new display protocol that VMware licensed from Teradici. Coinciding with the launch of View 4, VMware also released its first update to vSphere which included fixes and improvements and also added support for View 4.

December: vSphere U1a
December was again a quiet month for VMware as many people take off from work to enjoy the holidays. VMware did release Update 1a which resolved an issue when upgrading from vSphere 4.0 to Update 1 that could cause ESX hosts to become unusable if Hewlett-Packard hardware agents are installed.

And that about sums up the highlights of 2009 for VMware, I look forward to seeing what Vmware has in store for us in 2010 as VMware faces increased pressure from its competitors to maintain its dominance in the virtualization realm.

Eric Siebert is a 25-year IT veteran with experience in programming, networking, telecom and systems administration. He is a guru-status moderator on the VMware community VMTN forums and maintains VMware-land.com, a VI3 information site.

This was last published in January 2010

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