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Trends and Technologies from VMworld 2013

Patrick Gates | | October 31, 2013

VMworld is VMware’s annual conference for IT professionals that focuses on virtual server environments and technologies.

This year, the company reported the event attracted 23,000 registered attendees. What were the trends and technologies introduced? What were conferees buzzing about during the show?

Software-defined networking, or SDN, was a front-of-mind topic for most attendees, who wanted to know more about this transformative virtualization technology, which promises to make hardware-based networks increasingly obsolete.

Nancy Owano, writing in CIO Today, stated that throughout the event:

“[VMware] is making it clear that its vision for future data centers and IT overall is getting more ambitious, wrapped up in software-defined networking (SDN) and the software-defined data center. […] What that means is that software is put to use to extend flexibility in data centers and computer networks, a trend embraced by makers of networking gear as well. VMware is looking ahead to a software-defined data center, where automation rules, using software-based management tools.”

One of the product announcements during the conference was VMware’s own software-defined data center solution, known as NSX.  Rick Vanover, writing on Tech Republic, identified it as one of the key announcements designed to change data center operations. Vanover writes:

“It’s not a repurposing of the physical network to the virtual infrastructure like the standard vSwitch effectively is. Get ready for some long talks with your network team, but the permissions model will allow NSX virtualization to be handed over to them to administer if you’d wish. […] Note that NSX was announced, but isn’t generally available.”

On the other hand, Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst with ZK Research, stated that show attendees seemed less excited about the announcement than the media coverage allotted NSX:

“Part of the issue is that VMware has been talking about this product since it bought Nicira, so many might not have considered it news. The second issue is that most of the audience was made up of server managers, people who really don’t have much interest in or knowledge about networking. […] So this raises two questions: Are enterprises set up correctly to take advantage of NSX? And if not, will network managers embrace NSX or will they prefer using technology from a network vendor?”

Other conferee concerns, noted by Owano, were networking operational costs and security, specifically where organizations should store data — internally or in the cloud. Mark Andreessen, perhaps best known as the co-founder of Netscape Communications Corp. and most recently founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, advocates moving to the cloud, while Pat Gelsinger, VMware’s chief executive officer, suggests taking on a hybrid cloud model using private and public clouds. The two went head-to-head in a heated panel discussion during the conference.

Kerravala concluded:

“VMworld 2013 certainly pointed to many market transitions, and great companies are built on taking advantages of these market transitions. VMware appears to be heading in the right direction, but over the next five years we’ll find out of if VMware can be one of the few great IT companies, or if it’s just one of many good ones.”

What key information or lessons did you take away from VMworld? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

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