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VMworld Preview: VMware's 'Internal Cloud,' New Products, More

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. -- The fifth annual VMworld user conference gets under way this week in San Francisco with a flurry of product announcements; a schedule packed with keynotes, sessions, labs and product demos; and a bit of controversy.

No overarching theme has emerged in the run-up to this year's show, but event sponsor VMware is throwing a big spotlight on its vSphere 4 platform. Unveiled in April, vSphere 4 is billed as "the industry's first operating system for building the internal cloud." At the time, VMware CEO Paul Maritz called the software stack built around VMware's ESX Server 4.0 hypervisor "the next evolution" of VMware's product line that gives IT organizations "a non-disruptive path to cloud computing." Just prior to this year's conference, VMware claimed in a press release that vSphere 4 "reached more than 350,000 downloads in the first 12 weeks of general availability."  

Maritz has been at the helm of the company that pioneered virtualization for x86 for just over a year now. He kicks off the week's general sessions on Tuesday with the opening keynote, while VMware CTO Stephen Herrod takes the stage on Wednesday to talk with attendees about "The Future of Virtualization: From the Mobile Phone to the Cloud."

The four-day event (Aug. 31 to Sept. 3) starts on Monday with a day's worth of VMware-focused labs and sessions, including VMware's Technology Exchange Developer Day and the launch of a new VMware partner track. The event agenda lists more than 300 sessions over the four days.

The list of this year's "super sessions" includes presentations by VMware partners Intel, EMC, Symantec, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. VMware, Cisco and EMC team up for a session called "Collaborating to Accelerate the Transformation to a Virtualized Datacenter," and Cisco and VMware get together again to present "Delivering Innovation for Virtualization."

The HP session ("Stop Virtualizing Servers, Start Virtualizing Infrastructure") will come on the heels of a much-anticipated HP announcement of new hardware, software and services supporting VMware technologies. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company was keeping a tight lid on this news prior to its scheduled Sept. 1 announcement; HP Executive Vice President Ann Livermore would say only that the company will "reveal new innovations to build a path to the private cloud." But HP is expected to unveil new management and administration services for VMware vCenter environments and new software for monitoring the entire VMware ecosystem.

The list of anticipated product announcements at this year's show also includes:

  • Canadian cloud backup and recovery company Asigra is set to make a series of announcements around its vCloud support. The company's executive vice president, Eran Farajun, is scheduled to give a presentation at the show on what defines "cloud-ready backup and recovery" and how organizations might benefit from upgrading their backup strategies.
  • HyTrust, a Mountain View, Calif.-based provider of compliance and control solutions for virtual infrastructures, plans to demo its recently released HyTrust Appliance 1.5 at the show. Employing a label-based approach to policy management (think "tagging"), the appliance provides "centralized access control, template-based security configuration, and audit-quality log aggregation for the hypervisor."
  • Missouri-based Internet IT infrastructure services provider Savvis is expected to make a joint announcement with Cisco and VMware about a new storage deployment capability called Data Center on Demand (DCoD), which provides "a cloud solution that reduces up-front commitment to investing in IT infrastructure and does away with the 'crystal ball' approach" of predicting how much infrastructure an enterprise might need. DCoD offers "dynamic, optimal flexibility to deploy servers and storage, and turn them on and off with the push of a button based on their changing needs," the company says.
  • German company DataGlobal is announcing its Cloud Archival storage management platform at VMworld. Billed as "the only technology in the market capable of scanning over half a billion data files per hour," the platform is a new module based on the company's Enterprise Resource Suite (ERS) storage management platform. The product is new to the U.S. market.
  • Tripwire, the Portland, Ore.-based developer of the vWire virtual infrastructure management tool set, is set to unveil the latest version of its flagship product, with news about plans to extend the management of VMware solutions with "capabilities targeted at providing increased visibility and helping troubleshoot problems quickly."
  • FalconStor Software, a Melville, N.Y.-based provider of open network storage solutions, is expected to unveil new products that support, enhance and extend data protection in VMware environments. These products "encompass continuous availability, virtual storage management and virtual appliance solutions," the company says. This kind of security is "critical to maximizing the business value of virtual infrastructure deployments in heterogeneous environments."  FalconStor's products -- Continuous Data Protector (CDP), Virtual Tape Library (VTL) and Network Storage Server (NSS) -- are all built on the FalconStor IPStor storage virtualization platform.
  • Ottawa-based Embotics says it will announce "a new product development" at the show for customers adopting virtualization at different rates, depending on their specific company requirements. "These developments reflect the realization that the virtualization market is not 'one size fits all,'" the company says. The VM management and control products maker is best-known for its V-Scout free insight and monitoring tool for VMware environments and V-Commander policy-based VM control and management tool. A week before the show, the company announced a partnership with Surgient to combine their products for greater lifecycle management and self-service provisioning capabilities.
  • Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtual lab automation vendor VMLogix is expected to show off the newest version of its flagship product, VMLogix LabManager 3.8. Announced just days before the show, the new release adds capabilities for network policy configurations and deployment across multiple virtual hosts, the company says. This release also adds support for VMware vSphere 4 virtualization infrastructures and integration with VMware vCenter Server.
  • Virtual appliance vendor vKernel announced its new Optimization Pack a week before the show. The software bundle comes with three applets -- Wastefinder, Rightsizer and Inventory -- all designed to improve the efficiency of a company's virtual infrastructure by enabling it to run more VMs on the same amount of physical hardware. The company's chairman and founder, Alex Bakman, is scheduled to lead an expert session at the show on achieving cost visibility and implementing Chargeback in a virtualized datacenter.
  • Austin, Texas-based Hyper9, which makes software for managing the dynamic nature of virtual environments, plans to show off its Virtualization Optimization Suite (VOS) at the show. The recently announced product is designed "to help IT managers and administrators gain better business insights into their virtual environment" to "find, reclaim and right-size virtual resources." Hyper9 also plans to offer attendees a free version of its Virtualization Mobile Manager (VMM). VMM is designed to manage up to 1,000 virtual machines from an Apple iPhone, BlackBerry, Google Android phone or Windows Mobile device. It also allows administrators to monitor host and VM performance, as well as perform VM actions, the company says.

VMware 2009 will unfold under a bit of a cloud this year, as exhibitors voiced concerns about new rules restricting their activities at the show, and VMware's chief competitors in the hypervisor market, Microsoft and Citrix, complained about new restrictions on the size of their exhibit booths.

In May, news surfaced that VMware had modified the language of its event sponsor and exhibitor agreement, effectively banning competing products. The agreement reads in part: "Sponsors and exhibitors must market or demonstrate products on the exhibition floor and in the sessions which are complementary to VMware products and technologies."

VMware later issued a clarification, which reads in part: "VMware is totally committed to continuing to make VMworld the leading virtualization conference in the world, highlighting the rich, diverse ecosystem that is the virtualization marketplace. Just to be clear, the exhibitor sponsorship contract we are using is standard across the industry. Nothing out of the ordinary or meant to limit the value of VMworld."

And yet, the leading virtualization trade show, known for welcoming competitors of event organizer VMware, is restricting the size the Microsoft and Citrix exhibit booths to 10-by-10-feet. A week before the show, rumors were circulating that those restrictions might cause the two companies -- both gold sponsors of the show, according to the VMworld Web site -- to give this year's event a pass. But at press time, both companies said that they did plan to exhibit at the show.

Conference organizers expect to attract about 200 vendors and more than 11,000 attendees to this year's event.

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