In February 26-28 VMware hosted the first European edition of its VMworld conference and immediately collected an impressive success with 4,500 attendees.
The event replaced another technical conference, the Technical Solution Exchange (TSX), which originally was open only to VMware partners.
The explicit message of this first European edition of VMworld has been: VMware sponsors are worth much more than VMware itself.
Despite the unique opportunity to talk to so many European companies for the first time, VMware co-founders Diane Greene and Mendel Rosenblum didn’t dedicate much space to the company vision.
The two preferred to give a more than remarkable part of their time to some prestigious partners (IBM, HP, Dell and Fujitsu Siemens) which didn’t add any value to the discussion.
Customers and prospects looking for guidance from two of the brightest minds of the last decade, found themselves looking at a sort of prime time showcase for OEMs.
An unacceptable debut considering the incredible amount of topics that VMware executives could cover on stage.
Some critical products, unveiled through brief press announcements, like Lifecycle Manager, Project North Star (formerly Thinstall Application Virtualization Suite) or VMsafe couldn’t find more than five minutes in two one-hour-and-a-half keynotes. And it seemed a paradox that the time dedicated to the sponsors was more than double the time dedicated to these technologies that are marking in a radical way the company’s direction for the future.
Obviously VMware founders could have even more topics to cover: the evolution of ESX Server security capabilities with the integration of Determina technologies, the company strategy for the SMB market with the launch of VMware Server 2.0, the progresses in the standardized benchmarking with SPEC collaboration, the progresses in the para-virtualization adoption through the VMI interface, and many more.
The implicit message of this first European edition of VMworld has been: the European market is yet at the dawn of the virtualization era.
What remained of the keynotes, after all the space taken by the VMware sponsors, was spent in a long recap about what the company is doing and how many customers and partners it collected so far.
The history of VMware, the evolution of virtualization, and all the other academic stuff left few minutes available for topics like where the company is going and how.
Additionally, the entire tune of the conference sounded much like pioneering the wild European market: virtualization.info collected tens of negative feedbacks about the introductory level of most sessions.
The overall theme has been: nothing more than hype for Europe.
The fact that VMware dedicated so much space to its sponsors during the keynotes is not something bad in absolute. Part of the McAfee intervention about the VMsafe integration was welcome because part of a new technology.
What really disturbed was that VMware sponsors were granted time to speak about more than well-known topics, ESX Server 3i first and VDI later, which were announced and covered by worldwide press several times since September 2007.
The off-stage announcements didn’t enrich the overall message at all: each technology or product or alliance bulletin was about something already released (Lab Manager), already announced (Stage Manager, Site Recovery Manager, ESX Server 3i embedded in OEMs servers), or not yet available (Lifecycle Manager, Scalable Virtual Image, VMsafe).
Not a single new product was released, and even the upcoming ones seemed all the same to more than one attendee.
As result the VMware stock market performance didn’t improve at all, keeping the same $60 value maintained the whole February:
The value of VMworld Europe is not in discussion: any virtualization professional should consider to attend for the immense value of networking and the chance to see multiple new products in a full immersion week.
Despite that VMware customers should carefully evaluate how much they expect to learn, until at least VMware reconsiders its message for the European audience.
This market takes competition very very seriously and doesn’t concede the leader position so easily.
What has been announced during the conference timeframe:
Products and services from VMware:
Products and services from other virtualization vendors:
Acquisitions, partnerships and alliances:
- McAfee signs OEM agreement with VMware
- VMware signs OEM agreement with Sun
- Fortisphere joins VMware Technology Alliance Partner Program
- Stonesoft joins VMware Technology Alliance Partner Program
- Storwize joins VMware Technology Alliance Partner Program