VMware, This is Wrong

UPDATE: VMware has clarified their position; they will allow competitors to exhibit at VMworld. The text in the exhibitors agreement was legalese—supposedly consistent with other major vendor-sponsored conferences—meant to give them an out in the event an exhibitor behaves inappropriately.

I sincerely hope that Brian Madden is wrong about the recent change to vendor policies for VMworld.

This is exactly the wrong thing to do in this sort of competitive landscape. You know, earlier this week on the Virtual Thoughts podcast, I was defending VMworld’s move into the territory of their former ISVs with products like vCenter Data Recovery, vCenter Chargeback, and vCenter ConfigControl. After all, VMware is a publicly owned company, and they have to show value to their shareholders. But this? This doesn’t have anything to do with showing value to the shareholders. This is like a spoiled little kid saying, “This is my sandbox, and you can’t play in it.”

What are you going to do, VMware? Let’s see, you’re expanding into the territory formerly handled by many of your ISVs, and now you’re blocking access to competing products at VMworld. So who will be at VMworld? Let’s see…

  • Vizioncore can’t come, because vRanger Pro overlaps functionality VMware will provide in vCenter Data Recovery. And vFoglight overlaps with CapacityIQ.
  • VKernel can’t come; again, they overlap with CapacityIQ.
  • As Brian Madden mentioned, Quest won’t be there due to a conflict with VMware View.
  • Microsoft won’t be there, because they won’t be able to talk about Hyper-V. True, they could come and not talk about Hyper-V, but I suspect they’ll also act like a spoiled child by saying, “If we can’t play by our rules, we won’t play at all.” Hmm…considering 90-95% of all the workloads running on VMware are Microsoft Windows, that’s an interesting situation to create. Oh, and VMware: are you prepared to be excluded from Tech-Ed too?
  • Ditto for Citrix. And probably ditto for being allowed to exhibit at Synergy. So much for VMware vSphere being the best platform on which to run XenApp—you won’t get the chance to make that claim!
  • Leostream? Nope—conflicts/overlaps with VMware View.
  • What about Hyper9? Not sure, vCenter Server 4.0 does provide a Search feature now, so that could potentially preclude Hyper9 from coming, too.
  • Surely Veeam could come, but they can’t talk about Veeam Backup (conflicts with vCenter Data Recovery).
  • esXpress? Nope.
  • Hardware vendors—IBM, HP, Dell—will be there.
  • Storage vendors—EMC, NetApp, HP, Compellent, Dell—will be there.
  • Networking vendors like Cisco and HP will be there. Unless VMware thinks that HP’s networking functionality isn’t complementary enough to its own virtual networking functionality…

I’m sure that I’ve overlooked some companies, but it sounds to me like the vast majority of the third-party ISVs now find themselves precluded from exhibiting at VMworld, in addition to finding themselves competing head-to-head with VMware in their own markets. Looks like the exhibit hall is going to be a lot less crowded this year!

Is VMware the new Microsoft? I’ll let you answer that one on your own.

Disclaimer: Before anyone jumps the gun and says otherwise, note that these opinions are mine, and are not endorsed by my employer or any vendor or other organization.

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11 comments

  1. Paul Monaghan’s avatar

    Here here!

    One of the reasons I like VMWorld is to find those small ISVs that take a small VMWare feature and balloon it into something far more.

    I wonder, will Cisco be there? Doesn’t their new Nexus 1000v compete with the standard vSwitch? ;)

  2. Christian Simko’s avatar

    Scott–you are absolutely right…under this provision, VKernel would not be able to exhibit. This is crazy… So even as a VMware Technology Alliance Partner, we (Vkernel) can’t exhibit our products that overlap with VMware’s offerings… This makes little to no sense. My thought was that VMworld was becoming the virtualization industry event, much like RSA became the security industry event. If this is true, who really gets hurt here is the user community. Competitive ISVs will actually benefit from this ban as the market perception will be that VMware is so worried about us that we must have superior solutions. My guess is that the statement in question is a lawyer provision that was not well thought out or properly reviewed. But, i guess we’ll all find out soon enough as VMworld 2009 sponsorship money is due ASAP.

  3. nfritsch’s avatar

    Hey Scott,

    I think this is where the fine print comes into play. I’m still new to Virtualization and I don’t know a whole lot about Vizioncore other than I’ve heard they make absolutely fantastic products. I’ve only been to one VMworld (2008) and I can’t forsee Vizioncore or any of the other virtualization vendors not being there.

    The way I see it is that Vizioncore along with other virtualization vendors expand upon the VMware hypervisor. Also, when you purchase VMware, most of the stuff that other virtualization vendors develop is already included in the VMware purchase. So is there really any competition say between vConverter and vRangerPro?

    Again, I’m new to VMware so I could be completely wrong on some of this but that’s how I see it initially. It would be a very poor strategic move to all of a sudden outlaw all of the vendors that you have created such great relationships with.

    Nick

  4. slowe’s avatar

    Christian, Nick,

    As of 1PM EDT, John Troyer posted a tweet (http://twitter.com/jtroyer/statuses/1949171161) indicating that VMware was preparing a clarification. We’ll see how that works out–I plan on updating the article as soon as more information is available.

    Christian,

    The sponsorship money is the big deal–how much sponsorship money does VMware stand to lose with this clause? I can’t see this really being carried out to its ultimate conclusion. The partner ecosystem loses, the user community loses, and VMware loses–what’s the point?

    Nick,

    Well, vCenter Data Recovery–VMware’s new backup product–would be a direct competitor for vRanger Pro. So where does VMware draw the line? Do they only exclude competing hypervisor vendors, or do they exclude all competing vendors? Personally, I don’t see the need to exclude anyone…if someone wants to stand in the middle of the VMworld Exhibit Hall and proclaim his hypervisor is better than ESX, go for it…the market will decide.

  5. nfritsch’s avatar

    I see that I made a mistake in my post. vRanger is Vizioncore’s backup product, not converter product. That’s beside the point.

    I agree with you Scott, I enjoyed VMworld not only because of the knowledge I gained from the sessions and labs, but from meeting with the vendors and discussing different and better ways to do things. I can’t wait to see the update from John Troyer.

  6. Nate’s avatar

    They aren’t the new Microsoft. Microsoft has always and still does allow its direct ‘competitors’ at its events. When I go to tech-ed the message from Microsoft is very clearly “we try to do as much for you in the product as we can, but here is a great group of ISVs looking to give you even more functionality for those that need/desire” No they aren’t going to avoid adding a feature to the core product to prevent hurting an ISV, but that’s not their responsibility. Their responsibility is to do the best for the customer possible and it is up to the ISV to figure out how to be added value. VMwares tack fo trying to cut them out of the picture is, as you say, wrong. Maybe the difference is VMware wants to charge extra for every added feature where Microsoft is often just adding the feature to the base product without the need for paying extra.

  7. Chris Wolf’s avatar

    Good post, Scott. VMware needs to step up to the plate and do the right thing. I’m hoping for a simple “we made mistake” type of statement, rather than a “let’s see how we can spin this so we don’t look bad” statement. VMware’s partners are a major part of why they’re where they are today. With competition heating up, the last thing VMware should be doing is pushing partners away. Microsoft and Citrix have been eager to work with several VMware technology partners, and I’m sure they will continue to welcome them with open arms.

  8. Duncan’s avatar

    My guess is that this is directly related to the little stunt that Microsoft pulled last year at VMworld.

  9. dsanger’s avatar

    “they will allow competitors to exhibit at VMworld.” Did you mean to say they “will not” ?

  10. slowe’s avatar

    dsanger,

    The wording in the update is correct–VMware *will* allow competitors to exhibit at VMworld. Even though the wording in the agreement gives them a way to block competitors, VMware states that this is not their intent.

  11. Dlibonati’s avatar

    Maybe the user community needs to take over the event? In the past there have been several user groups who’s events were sponsored by the OEM’s…and then the OEM’s took over the event (just look at the HP and Compaq). Maybe it’s time that the virtual community stand up and take over this event? Just think… having your favorite virtualization vendor next to his competitor …This could spawn a whole new event … Virtual Everything 2010… featuring every virtualization vendor… Held in the Orlando convention center in August… Just my two cents…

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