The Next Big Thing

From Karl Rumelhart, Senior Product Manager and TSX EMEA presenter:

We had a fun session this afternoon at EMEA TSX called “The Next Big Thing for VMware.” I had the pleasure of hosting the event but credit for the concept and the organization go to Richard Garsthagen. Five conference attendees were invited to present a product idea that they felt could be the “next big thing.” The audience then voted on which idea they felt was the most compelling with the winner getting a 24in iMAC – along with a copy of VMware Fusion, of course. Briefly, the ideas were the following.

  • “ESX SMB Edition” proposed an offering for SMB that includes all VI3 features (and others) but removes the need for traditional shared storage by using the ESX Server hosts themselves as storage targets with striping across hosts for availability.
  • “Virtual Applications” suggested introducing an ‘Application Object (AO)’ primitive in VirtualCenter that would be the point of management and availability for the potentially numerous virtual machines running on multiple ESX Servers that make up the application.
  • “Virtual Document Management” proposed a tool to automatically generate documentation in various formats that captures the full configuration of a VI environment – “enough to rebuild the environment.” By introducing version control the tool could be used for change and configuration management.
  • “Access Control on Virtual Equipment” pointed out that VMware needs to provide the same degree of control over Networks and Datastores that it does for Virtual Machines and Hosts.
  • “Virtual Appliances as Templates in VirtualCenter” suggested that VI Client have consistent treatment (e.g. deployment wizards) for local templates and remote virtual appliances and that the virtual appliances available for download appear in the client similar to the way songs do in Apples iTunes.

The voting was secret ballot and I can report that it was very close. But a plurality of the crowd chose the “Virtual Document Management” tool. This is definitely a cool idea as it neatly links change and configuration management with a problem faced by every solutions consultant: the need to document what you build. The other ideas are also very important. In my opinion, if we had all the solution ideas available today, the ESX SMB Edition (which implies VI3 without traditional shared storage) would be responsible for the biggest change in our business.

While the votes were being counted we did another fun exercise with the audience. I proposed a series of questions and the audience members held up red or green papers to express their opinion. There were some interesting results. For example, by an estimated 70/30 split the audience felt that long term DR was a bigger market for VMware than VDI. And approximately 80% of the participants felt that within 18 months virtual appliances would be a good way to purchase, and not just evaluate, software. But an almost equal fraction felt that that is not the case today.

As with any product feedback, it is important to review who is giving it. And one of the best thing about the event for me is that fact that we were engaged with folks who are very hands on with the technology, a large percentage of them folks who consult on VMware technology for a living. In my opinion, VMware product management should miss no opportunity to engage with our technical channel. And in this case it was particularly special since the attendees were all from EMEA, folks obviously pretty far away from our base in Palo Alto.  The presenters were from Belgium, South Africa, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. That is awesome.