Five lessons learned from VMworld 2011

VMworld is the main event for virtualization and cloud computing. What key ideas did I take away from this year's event?

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Instead of trying to address the licensing elephant in the room during a keynote presentation with such a broad audience, VMware instead created a dedicated breakout session for consumers still concerned with licensing changes. Perhaps that was enough for most. I only had a handful of discussions about the subject with end-users that I ran into. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the issue is completely settled or that everyone has moved on.

Microsoft did take the opportunity to try and fan the flames around the vSphere vRAM tax, stating that the licensing change doesn't just affect customers today but will continue to impact them going forward into the future. Microsoft seems to have high hopes that VMware's licensing change may still motivate users to consider moving some, if not all, of their virtualization infrastructure from vSphere over to Hyper-V. Only time will tell if that theory will hold true.

3. Solid-state drives have come a long way since last year's virtualization event.

A year ago, companies were trying to convince show attendees that traditional hard drives were a thing of the past and solid-state storage drives (SSDs) were the future. Those exhibitors at VMworld 2010 seemed to be selling promises as opposed to delivering ready-set technology that people could go home and start implementing. But this year, things "felt" different. Every aisle you turned down seemed to have some SSD vendor singing a similar tune to last year -- but this time, it made more sense. SSD prices are coming down, the technology seems to have matured and is gaining traction, and virtual machines are beginning to outnumber their physical counterparts. As organizations continue to move toward virtualizing more mission-critical business applications, expect to see them implementing at least some sort of tiered solution around SSD.

4. End-user computing, mobility, and desktop virtualization are a big deal.

The virtualization giant spent much of the day two keynote focusing on an array of end-user computing products. Herrod devoted the first 45 minutes of his talk to VMware's goals of bringing anytime, anywhere access to mobile users.

One key piece of this puzzle was Horizon Mobile, which uses virtualization to split a work-issued smartphone or tablet into separate personal and company workspaces. This would allow consumers to not have to carry around multiple devices while providing them with a secure and safe environment that would separate the personal from the office environment as well as any work-related applications and data.

Other key efforts included projects such as AppBlast, which provides universal delivery of any application, including Windows-based applications, to any off-the-shelf browser or device supporting HTML5, enabling instant remote access to non-HTML based applications; and Project Octopus, which leverages data sync technology from VMware Zimbra and Mozy to enable enterprise-grade collaboration and information/data sharing -- think a Dropbox service for the enterprise.

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