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VMworld 2013: VMware channel partners eager to see company evolve

VMware channel partners discuss news highlights of VMworld 2013, with an eye on where VMware is headed, juxtaposed against customer needs.

As VMworld 2013 draws to a close, the five-day conference held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center this week is leaving some VMware channel partners breathing a sigh of relief as the vendor lays out its vision for a technology roadmap that moves beyond VMware ESX.

Attending his eighth VMworld conference, Keith Norbie, director of virtualization, server and storage practice for the eastern U.S. at Technology Integration Group, headquartered in San Diego, reported a definite energy rebound at this year’s VMworld.

While intimating that the vendor’s conferences over the past couple of years have been tame or lackluster, he noted that’s not the case this year.

“I thought it was good on the part of VMware not to position the future on vSphere or vCenter because the real adoption curve now is going to be on the management suite and how VMware delivers automation -- because automation is going to be king,” Norbie said.

That’s because most organizations have either highly virtualized or mostly virtualized environments and they're running into problems around being over- or under-provisioned, among other issues that they’re trying to manage with vCenter.

“What people will come away with after this VMworld is the importance of moving from vCenter to vSAN and looking at vCenter Operations Manager (vCOps) 5.0 as a platform to bring deeper insights to manage layers. Then if you’re managing multiple environments or multiple clouds, look at vCloud Automation Center and what that brings to the table,” Norbie said.

While Tal Lassiter, enterprise sales representative at eGroup Inc., in Mt. Pleasant, S.C., sat out this year’s VMworld conference, he did keep on top of conference news and he’s on the same page as Norbie when it comes to identifying the next opportunity with VMware.

“What made us successful selling VMware yesterday will not make us successful selling VMware tomorrow,” he said, noting that the new customer for VMware is the application development manager, not the data center server managers. “That’s done,” he added.

For Lassiter, VMware NSX, the network virtualization platform -- one of the vendor’s key tools to realize its software defined networking vision -- was the biggest announcement to come out of VMworld.

“NSX is the tangible piece that everyone wants to see how it will work – it’s the product that will turn the market on its ear,” he said. “The virtual SAN solution that VMware is building is more [of a] cool curiosity,” he added.

The VMware channel partner also praised the vendor for doing a good job of messaging around how it's trying to provide an end-to-end solution to get customers to the cloud.

One of the biggest conversations this year is cloud and discussions about hybrid cloud, in particular, said Eli Nussbaum, managing director at Keno Kozie Associates Ltd., headquartered in Chicago. The virtual attendee at VMworld 2013 noted that customers are starting to figure out that they want cloud, but public cloud isn’t a solution for a lot of them.

“A better answer for them is hybrid cloud,” he said, noting that most organizations still want to retain some control and flexibility around security and that not all applications are suited for the cloud just yet.

Partners and their customers found interest in other conference happenings.

For one of Lassiter’s clients, the VMware announcement that caught his attention was that vCenter Operation Management Suite will be fully compliant with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) in January 2014.

Perhaps, also flying under the radar at VMworld 2013 was a new product offering, vCenter Log Insight, to help companies make sense of unstructured data and the availability and performance of physical, virtual and cloud environments.

“VMware slipped in this announcement and it got a nice reaction from the crowd,” Norbie said.

The vendor also got praise for its efforts to enhance its hardware federation model around that of other vendors, such as HP, Cisco and Juniper, which hasn’t historically been there. “This along with NSX is an exciting component,” said Nussbaum.

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