Predicting the future is always a dangerous proposition -- and one I'm usually uncomfortable with. When I think of VMworld, I think of late-night parties, missing the following day's keynote presentations because of hangovers, death by bulleted PowerPoint presentations, 1980s-era bands and Lycra-clad booth babes. But at this year's VMworld, we can expect several other things.
For a few choice reasons, VMworld 2010 is likely to have a different feel from its predecessors. First, VMworld U.S. takes place in September and VMworld Europe in October, so the two shows now follow each other by a matter of weeks. Apart from a few notables and other EU-based bloggers, I suspect that this year's European contingent at the U.S. show will be smaller. Many Europeans see little value in attending two conferences with overlapping content. And as the economic downturn drags on, it's increasingly difficult to circumvent the budget restrictions on travel that bedevil many corporate attendees.
Can VMware can maintain the excitement for VMworld Europe when major announcements will be in the public domain before the show kicks off? Who knows, perhaps VMware will hold back on some announcements just so European attendees don't feel that they have attended a damp squib of a conference!
VMware's reason for putting the U.S. and EU event cheek to jowl was to ease the teardown and buildup logistics of running two large-scale conferences in the same year. As an attendee of both events, I always feel that the guns were held back in Europe, only to be fired later in the year at the U.S. show. Now that the European event will follow the U.S. event so closely, there is no reason in theory for VMware or other companies to hold back on the information surrounding such announcements.
First-come-first-serve VMworld sessions
This year's VMworld dispenses with the scheduling process that dominated previous shows. Previously, attendees had to use a schedule builder to attend sessions. This year, entry to all events will be based on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sure, the schedule builder exists, but only so attendees can build out their schedule; the Schedule Builder doesn't hold a spot for you in a session. Aside from my session on Site Recovery Manager, I suspect that Kit Colbert's session (TA7750) on Understanding Virtualization Memory Management Concepts will be heavily attended, as will the Storage Super-Heavyweight Challenge Panel (TA8623), which will be a knockout bout and include such luminaries as Chad Sakac and Vaughn Stewart.
VMware vCloud Service Director
For some time, VMware has worked on Project Redwood, now dubbed the VMware vCloud Service Director (vCSD). Over the past year, there have been several accidental leaks that revealed step-by-step guides and screen grabs. Oops!
For some time, VMware has been at the forefront of the buzz on cloud computing, and last year the company announced the vCloud Express Initiative, which includes partners such as Terremark. But a year later, out of thousands of program partners, few have a commercial offering in place, with many of the partners' offerings still marked "beta."
During that time, these providers have worked with VMware to test vCSD. It's important to remember that VMware is not a service provider, but rather an independent software vendor (ISV). As such, its focus is on developing software that enables the cloud, which is what vCSD is meant to address. It's supposed to facilitate how partners automate vSphere by wrapping an automation and workflow engine around the virtualization suite. This allows customers to buy Infrastructure as a Service through resource pools of compute and I/O or purchase virtual machines (VMs) as they need them.
The intention of the new product is to allow internal vSphere deployments to hook into externally hosted vSphere deployments supported by VMware's platform. The idea is that vCSD will sit on top of vSphere deployment and offer a level of virtualization to the management layer. If someone wants a new VM, he can choose seamlessly between a private cloud or a public cloud. Some folks have dubbed this the "hybrid" cloud model. I expect VMware to use one of its partners, together with Saleforce.com or Google representatives, to highlight how VMware wants to work with other companies to get the project off the ground.
Despite all the talk about openness and avoiding vendor lock-in, VMware won't highlight the fact that you need VMware and vSphere on both ends of the connections to leverage the vCSD.
VMware View 4.5?
I also hope that VMware will announce its new version of the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI): VMware View 4.5. As you are likely aware, VMware View has run into schedule problems, with the product's delay and rescheduling. Additionally, some features will not be included in the launch, such as View's Virtual Profile feature, recently acquired from RTO Software.
Despite having a enterprise-class display protocol in the shape of PC-over-IP (PCoIP), View will likely remain incompatible with VMware's Security Server role. It seems likely that, to address these limitations, View will receive an Update 1 to View 4.5; my theory is that VMware may port an implementation of its vShield product.
In the meantime, VMware has taken a lot of heat from Citrix Systems Inc. and others in the blogosphere about the rumored delays of its client hypervisor. Just last week, Gartner Inc. dubbed Citrix XenDesktop as the first enterprise-ready VDI solution. So expect fanfare on VMware View 4.5 as VMware's counter to the negativity surrounding VMware's solution.
The return of VMworld TV
Finally, VMware recently re-launched its VMworld TV service, and the rumor mill is already rife with speculation about possible announcements. In one episode, Howie Xu, the director of research and development, discusses the future direction of network virtualization. At the beginning of the video, we get a peek of his whiteboard, which features the word vFabric. (This was brought to my attention by one of TechTarget's writers, Beth Pariseau, on the Wikibon site.)
In the video, Xu explains that VMware wants the network to become a service like any other and use chargeback models. Xu states that VMware intends to announce an "open, extensible networking virtual chassis platform, a network OS or networking hypervisor, so that anyone can develop the on-demand networking service on top of vSphere." This offering allows a new level of control over the network above and beyond what's currently possible with virtual switches. In the video, Xu also states that it is VMware's hope that the third-party ecosystem will develop security, load-balancing, application acceleration and performance management services on this platform.
Mike Laverick (VCP) has been involved with the VMware community since 2003. Laverick is a VMware forum moderator and member of the London VMware User Group Steering Committee. Laverick is the owner and author of the virtualization website and blog RTFM Education, where he publishes free guides and utilities aimed at VMware ESX/VirtualCenter users, and has recently joined SearchVMware.com as an Editor at Large. In 2009, Laverick received the VMware vExpert award and helped found the Irish and Scottish VMware user groups. Laverick has had books published on VMware Virtual Infrastructure 3, VMware vSphere4 and VMware Site Recovery Manager.