VMworld Preview

Kicking off our coverage of the world's premier virtualization tradeshow, we take a look at what you might expect to see announced this week.

Going to VMWorld 2008 this year? If you are, then you’re already there getting the goods on all the new products and companies you came to see. Those of you who aren’t going, stay tuned because innovation and collaboration are the mainstay of this year’s focus. Expect major innovations from HP, Dell, and IBM in the cloud computing world — from data center design to full-blown turnkey hosted solutions. Desktop virtualization is taking the whole space by storm and I anticipate it overshadowing all other facets of virtualization at this conference. Sun, Red Hat, and other high profile vendors are sinking tons of resources into VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure). Thin client vendors are joining the cause too with their new (old) technology repackaged and sold as green.

For announcements, you should listen closely to those made by Microsoft, Citrix, Novell, VMware, and Cisco. Don’t be surprised if some of these companies become familiar bedfellows during the show. Maybe it’s only obvious to me but the list of those who have press conferences scheduled are also the same ones listed as “platinum” sponsors. I’m guessing that they all have something more dramatic to say that outweighs a simple press release. Some of these partnerships and collaborations look great on paper but the execution leaves me wanting for substance. For instance, what possible advantage is there from a partnership between Cisco and VMware who are sharing a press conference?

Speaking of announcements, I suspect that Microsoft and Novell may make a big one at this conference throwing the limelight squarely on their partnership going forward. They announced last Thursday that they’re going to collaborate on a virtualization solution that involves running SuSE Linux on Microsoft’s Hyper-V server. And, there’s that perennial struggle between Microsoft and Citrix. I wonder when those two are going to give up this strained on-again, off-again relationship and just move in together.

Collaborative drama aside, I’m excited about the new products and services emerging at this largest show of its kind in North America. Innovation drives technology and I’m interested in the innovators. Sure, the big companies are innovative but the up-and-comers are far more intriguing to explore. VMWorld calls them New Innovators and gives them their own special section on the VMWorld website. These hungry neophytes, floating somewhere between widespread acceptance and obscure oblivion, are the ones to watch.

Companies like BlueBear, with their free, open source Kodiak virtual console software and innovative Koala hardware appliance have piqued my interest. I’ll be making a B-Line for that booth once I enter the exhibitor fray. Liquid Computing is next on my list of must see’s to check out their LiquidIQ product for rapid provisioning of virtual infrastructure. I’m also carving out enough time to drop by and see Stonesoft, Inc. and their security-oriented virtual appliances. I’ll see others like RTO Software and Thin Launch Software on my way around the floor looking for virtual scoops and the possibility of product reviews.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m going to hit all the big ones too — and yes, I’ll spend quite a bit of time with that non-Linux one. While I’m the Virtualization point man for Linux Magazine, I have to stay abreast of all virtualization technology — no matter from which side of the tracks they may hail. Thanks to Michael Corleone, I like to keep my friends close but my enemies closer. I think Microsoft has something up its sleeve with all this open source research, collaborations with Citrix and Sun, and high profile partnership with Novell and I’m going to find out what it is.

I foresee VMWorld bringing some significant surprises to light this year. Whether it’s a Microsoft-Novell merger, a Sun-Microsoft partnership, or simply that the whole world goes virtual Desktop mad; there will be an abundance of high fiving, glass clicking, and from me — some “I told you so’s.”

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