VMworld – it’s the IT infrastructure show

With a busy week at VMworld in the rear view mirror, it’s a convenient time to take a minute to reflect on the conference. Invariably conference small talk will ask the question: ‘how’s the show going for you?’. The answers vary from conference to conference but generally gravitate to realistic expectations having been met. VMworld 2010 was a completely different story – the reaction I received from attendees and vendors alike was overwhelmingly positive. By the third day the show had earned it’s place as the best conference I can remember attending as a vendor. The crowd was big (over 17,000 attendees) but the quality was very high. Good, hard, technical questions and discussions were the norm rather than the exception. Potential customers digging into your product had active projects and difficult problems they were working hard to solve; very few tire-kickers. Big announcements were made from companies both large and small. Drew Robb at Enterprise Storage Forum has a nice recap from the storage perspective. And if that were not enough, they served IT’S-IT ice cream as an afternoon snack (VMware event planners, you have my sincere thanks).

I think the real reason it was so good is the fact that the conference has moved well beyond being a VMware showcase to being the IT infrastructure conference you can’t miss. If you have to go to one show then VMworld is it, and unlike other events it will be worth your time and money. It makes complete sense in the context of the entire industry scrambling to virtualize the entire data center. VMware touches everything: servers, storage, networking, and a host of management software. This breadth is also reflected in the scope of breakout sessions and keynotes. I think Drew floats an interesting theory in takeaway #4:

EMC World and VMworld Will Unite Within A Couple Of Years

I’m not sure how they are going to do it, but these shows might just merge. There is a fair amount of duplicative content (though things are certainly a lot more technical at VMworld), the overarching messages are very similar and they have the same corporate ownership. Gelsinger and Maritz are speakers at both shows. Maybe there will be west coast and east coast shows that will be termed EMC World and VMworld, but the content will become homogenized as time passes and the union between these two companies grows.

VMworld seems to be doing fine on it’s own, but it’s nice to see them mentioned in the same sentence with EMC like that.

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