Great Expectations: 5 Trends To Watch For At VMworld 2013

VMWorldNext week VMware kicks off its annual user conference, VMworld.  I’m expecting this year’s show to not only exceed last year’s attendance total of about 20,000 people, but also have a bigger show floor as more vendors try and align themselves with the market leader in virtualization.  Personally, I know I’ve had what seems like an endless stream of requests for meetings and pre-briefs as companies look to strut their stuff at VMworld.

While cloud, virtualization, and the software-defined data center topics are obvious, I do think there are a few others worth calling out.  Here are some other themes to watch for at VMworld 2013:

  • The Empire Strikes Back at Hyper-V.  Over the past year, Hyper-V has been popping up more and more as an alternative virtualization platform.  While VMware had a dominant position for years, it cracked the door open for an alternate vendor when it implemented its VRAM pricing.  Microsoft quickly jumped through that door and has been an increasingly sharp thorn in VMware’s side.  At this year’s show we should see a very aggressive VMware as it tells us why the “good enough” Hyper-V is no longer good enough.
  • The Demise of the Cisco Relationship.  Cisco and VMware were great partners at one time.  But then again, so were Virgil and the Million Dollar Man and they broke up, so if that duo could, then I suppose anything is possible.  While both companies put on smiling faces when talking about each other, VMware threw down its gloves and challenged Cisco when it acquired Nicira.  Since then, Cisco has cozied up to Microsoft more, becoming much more supportive of Hyper-V, and is building its own version of the software-defined data center.  I think at this year’s VMworld, VMware won’t be so guarded with its public statements regarding the network and its relationship with Cisco.
  • SDNs are Dead, Long Live Network Virtualization (at least within VMware)! About a year ago, VMware dropped $1.2 billion for the previously-mentioned Nicira to move the company into the “Software-Defined Networking” space — at least, that’s the way the media perceived the move.  Since then, VMware has been more and more vocal about that fact that Nicira is network virtualization, which is not the same as SDN.  SDNs are a way of doing network virtualization, but not the only way.  At a show earlier this year, I had actually heard that HP’s Bethany Mayer was irked at VMware for downplaying its role in SDNs.  We should see VMware bring clarity on this topic of SDNs versus network virtualization.
  • Visibility Tools That Cross the Physical / Virtual Boundary. The more virtual that data centers get, the harder it becomes for IT engineers to manage the environment.  There are some great tools to help manage the physical world, and others to manage the virtual environments, but trying to understand how the physical and virtual map to one other is still a big blind spot.   I’m expecting to see a record high number of vendors tout some sort of visibility tool or software that can help engineers “see” the virtual environments better, because network managers can’t fix what they can’t see.
  • Mobile Computing Becomes a Bigger Part of VMware.  When it comes to mobile computing and VMware, I can only think of the Katy Perry song, “Hot and Cold” because VMware has been hot and then cold, in and then out, up and then down regarding mobile as it’s danced around the topic, while its VDI strategy has largely revolved around desktops.  Earlier this year VMware hired SAP mobile exec, Sanjay Poonen to head up mobile at VMware.  Expect to see mobile computing in a big way at VMworld 2013.

Image credit: mtellin (flickr) – CC-BY-2.0