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General Session at VMware PEX 2012 Day 1

VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) is VMware’s premier partner-focused event, and this morning I’m in the general session kicking off this year’s PEX at The Venetian in Las Vegas. It will be interesting to see how the session shapes up. I’m writing this post during the session and I’ll be updating it as the session progresses.

9:05 AM

The session kicks off with a legal disclaimer about forward-looking statements and such. I suppose that’s expected and required from a publicly owned company such as VMware. That’s followed up by a series of partner videos; first EMC, then HP, NetApp, Dell, and Cisco. All part of their sponsorships of the event, I suppose.

9:12 AM

The session then transitions into someone drawing on the screen and a guy talking about looking up at the sky and seeing shapes in the clouds. Naturally, this morphs into seeing technologies inside “cloud computing.” He then eloquently extolls the virtues of cloud computing.

9:17 AM

Scott Aronson, SVP of Global Channels and Alliances now takes the stage. Aronson calls out the Diamond sponsors—Cisco, Dell, EMC, HP, and NetApp (in alphabetical order) and reminds attendees of the Solutions Exchange and all the vendors participating there.

Aronson next reviews the revenue numbers from VMware since 2007, ending up at $3.77 billion in revenue, a 32% year on year growth in 2011. 85% of that $3.77 billion came from partners as Aronson reinforces VMware’s reliance upon its partners.

By 2015, Aronson states that VMware estimates that the private cloud opportunity will be $41.5 billion.

Aronson highlights the many different types of VMware partners: solution providers, distributors, system integrators, service providers, independent software vendors, and original equipment manufacturers. He highlights growth in the service provider space (about 200% growth). According to Aronson, VMware has approximately 350,000 customer relationships.

Next, Aronson shifts into a discussion of the market opportunity. VMware has sold into 95% of the enterprise market. According to Gartner, the enterprise market is only 50% of the way down the virtualization path—VMware and partners need to continue to focus on Tier 1/mission critical applications.

In the non-enterprise space, there is an 80% “white space” opportunity (what does that mean, exactly?). They are even farther behind on virtualization than the enterprise market, which—according to Aronson—translates into a big market opportunity for VMware and VMware partners.

The discussion shifts again; this time Aronson focuses on training, a key component of VMware’s strategy to help partners. Aronson states that VMware wants to dramatically increase the number of partners trained in 2012 over the number trained in 2011 (215,000 partners trained in 2011).

Aronson announces the launch of VMware’s Small to Medium Business (SMB) specialization. This follows other VMware specializations, like academic, US federal, and healthcare.

VMware has some competency areas today: desktop virtualization, business continuity, virtualized business critical applications, infrastructure as a service, and—launching today—a management competency. Enterprise partners will now be required to maintain 2 competencies, although VMware is giving them a year to meet that requirement.

Also being announced today is a consulting and integration partner program. Details on this new program were sparse in the general session.

VMware Grid is a program offered at no cost to partners to help with lead generation and sales campaigns. Aronson recommends that partners look into this program and leverage it to help grow their business.

According to Aronson, competent partners have 350% more revenue than non-competent partners. This moves into a discussion of Advantage+, which—if I recall correctly—is VMware’s partner-focused deal registration service. Aronson details some additional discounts that partners will get through Advantage+ if they sell to new customers, achieve competencies, and make recurring solutions-focused sales. Aronson indicates that VMware is “doubling down” on investment in the channel when other companies are drawing back.

9:44 AM

Paul Maritz takes the stage. Maritz reviews the stats that VMware likes to throw around–1 VM every 6 seconds, 25 million VMs running on vSphere, >50% of workloads virtualized, >50,000 partners, etc.

Maritz moves into a discussion of how the world is changing in 2012. According to Maritz, the current IT experience is “narrow” and focused on the “desktop”. However, the industry is in transition to a new set of experiences: wherever, whenever, in context. Now employees are looking for a fundamentally different way of interacting with information and with other employees. This demands a new infrastructure to deliver these new experiences.

Maritz states that the “way forward” is made by possible by front-end transformation, application transformation, and back-end infrastructure transformation. This resonates with his statement that VMware’s survival lies in IT transformation, not cost reduction.

Maritz introduces a new term: the software-defined datacenter. Stephen Herrod, the VMware CTO, will apparently discuss this in a bit more detail when he takes the stage shortly.

Maritz indicates that new versions of vSphere, vCloud Director, vCenter Operations, and vShield will be delivered in this year and next year, apparently around the VMworld time frame.

In addition to back-end transformation, organizations also need application transformation. Key here are vFabric and Cloud Foundry, which enable organizations to build tomorrow’s generation of applications. Cloud Foundry now has 60,000 developers signed up.

The key technologies in front-end transformation are View and Horizon, according to Maritz.

Maritz reiterates that leadership requires a commitment to execution (so that partners can rely on VMware), a commitment to enablement (so that partners have the knowledge and rewards), and a commitment to innovation (so that partners can be confident in VMware). With that, Maritz transfers the stage to Steve Herrod.

10:07 AM

Steven Herrod, VMware’s CTO, now takes the stage. Herrod couches his discussion around the idea of a IT consumers just “needing to get their job done”, where PaaS, IaaS, or SaaS might be more efficient or effective for the end users in getting their job done.

Herrod talks about VMware’s IT Business Management Suite, which can help provide a “report card” on how IT is providing services and at what costs those services are being provided. According to Herrod, metrics matter, because metrics enable us to improve our service and efficiency.

Herrod is going to focus on three areas. The first is the post-PC era. The second is vSphere as a platform for all applications, and the third area is management.

First, Herrod talks about the post-PC world. The post-PC world is the “wherever, whenever, in context” user experience that Maritz alluded to in his talk. Key to this post-PC experience is Horizon App Manager, View, ThinApp, and mobile phone virtualization solutions. Of course, data is central to this discussion; that leads into a discussion of Project Octopus (VMware’s enterprise version of Dropbox).

Second, Herrod moves into a discussion of vSphere as the “one platform.” This includes putting mission critical/Tier 1/business critical applications on vSphere. All applications need to go onto vSphere—including applications like Hadoop or HPC. Herrod reminds attendees it’s not just about performance, it’s also about deployment and management. Herrod calls out a few interesting use cases for VMware’s products: traffic light management, ATMs, VoIP and voicemail systems, and smart boards in classrooms.

Third and finally, Herrod moves into a discussion of cloud management (and the tagline “with less management”). Within the space of management, there are three topics Herrod discusses: self-service, managing at scale, and automation. In the area of self-service, Herrod shows off VMware Service Delivery Manager (not a live demo but a mock-up). Regarding management at scale, Herrod talks about vCenter Operations. Finally, in the area of automation, Herrod talks about a few different things. Resource pooling is referred to as form of automation; not sure I agree with that assessment, but that’s OK. According to Herrod, the idea of intelligent policy management is a key part of automation. This goes back to the “barcode” of policy attached to a VM, something VMware’s been discussing for quite some time but has yet to deliver in any significant form. Also involved in the automation discussion are things like Distributed Power Management (DPM) and Site Recovery Manager (SRM). Herrod discusses the idea of a “self-healing datacenter” where vCenter Operations, DRS, vMotion, and other technologies could allow a data center to proactively respond to potential hardware failures. It could even allow organizations to dramatically change their operational models.

Herrod wraps up his discussion by describing VMware in three attributes: reliability, nimbleness, and open/integration.

At this point Herrod wraps up the general session.

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