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VMworld 2008 kicks off with address from new CEO Paul Maritz

VMware's new CEO, Paul Maritz, gave his first keynote address at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas, discussing new technologies for desktop and cloud computing, corporate partnerships and competing against Microsoft.

LAS VEGAS -- VMware Inc. CEO Paul Maritz kicked off the massive VMworld 2008 show at the Venetian in Las Vegas by touching on new features for cloud computing, desktop virtualization and Virtual Datacenter Operating System (VDC-OS).

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This is the first VMworld show for Maritz, who took over the Palo, Alto, Calif.-based company a few months ago. It is also the largest VMworld show to date, with 14,000 attendees, and the company's 10-year anniversary.

Maritz gave a somewhat vanilla keynote, discussing corporate partnerships with Intel Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc., and touching on new VMware initiatives like VDC-OS OS and cloud computing efforts. Maritz also had a couple of VMware engineers demonstrate the new vCloud initiative and the new virtual desktop technology vClient.

Though user adoption of desktop virtualization has far from exploded, Maritz later said he expects Virtual Desktop Infrastructure offerings like vClient to catch on.

"VMware gives companies a framework to control their server swamps," Maritz said. "I expect to see adoption unfold over the next 12 to 24 months."

Users breathe sigh of relief
One VMworld attendee who works as an IT administrator for the Swedish government, Robert Johnsen, who has 600 VMware-based virtual machines in his data center, was concerned about the stability of VMware after Diane Greene was ousted by VMware board of directors this summer and her husband and co-founder, Mendel Rosenblum, left the company last week.

After Maritz's keynote, Johnsen felt at ease. "We have invested a lot of money in VMware, and we were wondering if we should continue," he said. "I am very impressed [with Maritz]."

Three years ago, Johnsen said, he looked at Microsoft when his group decided to go virtual, and it was no contest. Now, after investing heavily in VMware and seeing the benefits, he said he won't give Microsoft another shot.

Now I am reaping the benefits of my own sins.
Paul Maritz,
CEOVMware Inc.

Users like Johnsen are likely a breath of fresh air for Maritz, who has the pressure of keeping the VMware on top of the virtualization market in the face of competition from Microsoft.

But Maritz spent 15 years at Microsoft when the company was just establishing itself in the networking, browser and database spaces and claims to know how to beat Redmond. "I know that Microsoft is a formidable competitor, but it is not invincible," he said. "We have a lead … and will be very hard to catch, even for Microsoft."

"The key when it comes to [competing with] Microsoft … is to innovate, invest and keep increasing the customer value proposition, which we intend to do."

Echoing his previous comments about Microsoft's lag in the virtualization space, Maritz told attendees that Microsoft has entered the virtualization space late in the game, and the Hyper-V virtualization technology isn't anywhere akin to VMware's alternatives.

Q&A session with Maritz
Immediately following the keynote, Maritz held audience to executives and press for a 30-minute question-and-answer session, where he blamed Microsoft for the need for virtualization, because the company's software and applications have promoted server sprawl.

Admitting his own complicity in the problem, Maritz said he started his career in the 1970s as a mainframer and through the years was involved in the trend to decentralize CPUs, which ultimately led to the need for server consolidation through virtualization.

"Now I am reaping the benefits of my own sins," Maritz said.

In the post-keynote Q&A session, Maritz responded to many questions by telling people to get more information at upcoming sessions on the topic or by deferring technical questions to the two VMware representatives onstage with him.

Maritz did answer a question about future challenges and how he will address them. "We are trying to deepen and extend the value proposition of our software and extend it to the cloud, and we are also looking at how we provide desktop provisioning," Maritz said. "As with all things, there is the small issue of execution." VMware is working to ensure that its new technologies can be executed efficiently in data centers, he noted.

Maritz also said VMware will also extend its partnership ecosystem and will work hard to make sure the company offers value above and beyond what Microsoft can offer.

Another question was posed about open source: Will VMware ever offer ESX code to the open source community? "Open is a great phenomenon in many ways," Maritz responded, "and we thought about open-sourcing ESX. To address that, we brought the price of ESXi to zero."

And when asked whether VMware VirtualCenter will ever run on Linux, Maritz responded with a laugh and said, "I would love to, but it will take a few more steps to get there."

During his keynote, Maritz promoted the new Intel Xeon Processor series 7400, code-named Dunnington, because for the first time the chip permits VMotion between different chipset families. But, when it comes to legacy processors, there is still no resolution to the limitations of VMotion. A VMware engineer onstage with Maritz said Dunnington's VMotion support extends only to future offerings, because Intel can't change what is already out there.

Another VMotion-related concern is that there is still no interoperability between AMD and Intel processors. A VMware engineer said that VMware is working on it, but it has proved difficult.

To return to our VMworld 2008 coverage, click here.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Bridget Botelho, News Writer. And check out our Server Virtualization blog .

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