Virtualization Takes Over the World and Triggers a Clash of Titans

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If you believe the hype about VMworld 2011, the annual virtualization fest held by VMware, the leading distributed systems hypervisor company, you might think virtualization was poised to take over the world. OK, in some ways it is, at least the IT world anyway. CFOs should care because virtualization has the potential to save money and eliminate a lot they don't like about conventional IT.

But VMworld wasn't the only mega-event going on. Salesforce.com, the 900 lbs. gorilla in the SaaS industry, staged its annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco this same week. Dreamforce expects 45,000 attendees, better than doubling VMworld's 20,000. Salesforce is using Dreamforce to rebrand itself as the social enterprise company on the basis of its cloud platform and how it leverages social, mobile, and open cloud technologies to change companies' relationships with their customers. Dreamforce sponsors include the big consulting firms but few of the IT vendors.

Judging by the projected attendance at this year's VMworld it clearly was one of the two places to be this final week of summer if you're interested in IT. The list of corporate participants includes all the big names in technology—the ones not at Dreamforce--Cisco, EMC, HP, NetApp, CA, IBM, Intel, Symantec, and more; a veritable clash of titans. Here's a sampling:

IBM is using VMworld to promote its hybrid and private Smart Cloud initiatives. In this case it announced a hybrid cloud product based on its recent Cast Iron acquisition that promises to reduce the time it takes to connect, manage and secure public and private clouds. An integration and management tool, it aims to help organizations of all sizes gain better visibility and control while effectively easing the ability to integrate and manage all of an organization's on-and-off premise IT resources. What once took several months to set up, according to IBM, can now be done in a few days.

NetApp, a storage vendor, joined with VMware to announce the VMware cloud infrastructure on NetApp, which will allow companies to migrate to a secure cloud computing model at their own pace while avoiding the need to rip and replace their existing infrastructure. The product combines NetApp's flexible Unified Storage Architecture and comprehensive set of storage and data management capabilities built on NetApp's Data ONTAP with VMware's recently enhanced cloud infrastructure suite.

Cisco announced technology enhancements to its joint VMware virtualization product that help organizations accelerate their transition to the cloud. Sound familiar? The companies unveiled network virtualization that will broaden the mobility range of virtual machines across multiple datacenters and cloud environments.

Of course VMware made many announcements starting with VMware View, which enhances the company's virtual desktop offerings and VMware Horizon, dubbed as a platform for the post PC era. Horizon handles a variety end user tasks for virtualized Windows applications and mobile users. It also used the event to launch vSphere 5, the latest enhancement to its vSphere virtualization platform for building cloud infrastructures. This will surely trigger a clash of titans as every major IT vendor brings out its cloud virtualization platform.

Not to be outdone or ignored, Microsoft, another IT titan, chose the VMworld kickoff to launch its counter initiative through two executives who announced new reduced pricing. Said the executives: This is “a great time to showcase the value of Microsoft's cloud offerings versus those from competitors VMware and Salesforce.com.” They promise Microsoft customers 4-10 times savings over a period of one to three years. Ain't competition great.

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