But in a weird twist of fate, virtualization experts and evangelists actually went after VMware on Twitter and in the blogosphere yesterday for a legal statement that was added into this year's VMworld exhibit agreement. Brian Madden broke the news and suggested that VMware competitors may find themselves in a tight spot if they want to sponsor and exhibit at VMworld 2009. The additional legalese in the agreement stated:
Sponsors and exhibitors must market or demonstrate products on the exhibition floor and in the sessions which are complementary to VMware products and technologies. Complementary products and services are defined as products/services that do not overlap/substitute with VMware's products/capabilities, and help expand the reach and solution scope of VMware's capabilities solely as deemed by VMware.
These two sentences created a shot heard around the virtual world. Bloggers from around the world immediately jumped all over this announcement with frustration and extreme disappointment.
The problem with this newly added legal wording is that it is hard to find a company in the virtualization market who doesn't in some way compete with VMware. Companies that create their own hypervisor platform immediately come to mind. These are typically VMworld's largest sponsors -- companies like Microsoft and itrix. And what about other companies that create their own desktop virtualization or VDI solution? What about application virtualization? With VMware vSphere 4 now for sale, how many VMware partners in the ISV ecosystem have a product that has some overlap or competitive nature about it? VMware just invested $20 million and owns a 5 percent stake in Terremark as a service provider, so would that keep other hosting companies from being able to sponsor and exhibit as well?
They're all valid questions and fears. After all, a very large percentage of VMworld attendees actually go to the conference to see what other companies are offering in the way of virtualization solutions -- it isn't only about the sessions being offered. So if you were actually able to hear conversations taking place on the exhibitor showroom floor because only VMware and five other companies were exhibiting their non-competitive wares, how many people would stay home and skip the virtualization event of the year?