VMworld Keynote - Paul Maritz looks into the crystal ball

Paul Maritz describes VMware's vision of the future and what the company is doing about it.

Why is it that suppliers, such as VMware, think that their keynote addresses will be better received if they present a light show and deafening music beforehand?  The music was loud enough to be painful. By the time Paul Maritz came out to present, the music had given me a major headache.

Suppliers also seem to think that it is beneficial to keep their customers in the dark during the presentation. I did my best to take notes during the session, but they are sketchy to say the least.

Quick summary of Paul's presentation

Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware, mentioned a number of trends he was observing and what VMware was going to do about them.
  • Paul presented the results of some unnamed research firm showing that more than half of all workloads were running in virtual environments. No mention was made about who did this research, how the study was executed, how many respondents took part, and no demographic information about the respondents was presented. The rest of the presentation was based upon this questionable foundation.
  • Paul asserted that we are seeing another major change in how IT is accomplished. It called this new approach "New IT." He suggested that modern applications need to be developed using new tools, new application frameworks and would run in the cloud.
  • He suggested that the challenge we all face is to renew applications to run in this new environment without causing disruption. He suggested that we need to encapsulate and then eventually replace all mainframe applications, applications running on midrange systems using new tools and cloud computing.
  • He declared that the PC era has passed and that although hundreds of millions of PCs are in use today, they are going to be superseded by a galaxy of handheld mobile devices.
  • He then went on to discuss products we could expect to hear more about on Tuesday that would address these changes.

Snapshot analysis

In Paul's presentation, I heard the foundation of VMware's future strategy. VMware appears to be readying itself to do the following things:
  • Take on IBM and the mainframe and replace the workloads they are currently supporting with herds of industry standard systems supporting private and public clouds. VMware is going to try to match the reliability, robustness, security and manageability of the mainframe with new system software. I've heard this song before. Fifteen years ago the open systems suppliers said nearly the same things. The mainframe is still part of every major data center.
  • Ditto for UNIX and single-vendor environments such as IBM System I
  • Take on Windows, Linux and Mac OS-based workloads and replace them with easy-to-use, graphics intensive server-centric workloads that run in the cloud and are presented to users of handheld computers (smartphones, tablets and the like) through HTML5-based browsers or small apps running on the handheld devices. It is not at all clear how users would be able to address production requirements on pseudo keyboards offered by those devices or on the small screens they have today.
  • Take on Oracle and the database suppliers by using no-SQL databases supported in shared cache on distributed systems (so called memory virtualization by some of the suppliers).

While I agree that we are going to see people using a constellation of mobile devices along side of their PCs and Laptops, I don't think that these devices are going the way of the dodo any time soon. The same could be said of the mainframes and midrange systems in the data center. All of these tools are the foundation of too much useful processing to be quickly or easily replaced.