VMware's push into virtualized networking and storage are welcome news to one component of its customer base: members of VMware user group VMUG.
VMUG is an independent body, currently boasting 80,000 active members and comprising many regional VMware user groups from Maine to Hawaii. Over the last three years it's grown to become a worldwide organization, with members from Canada, Italy and Germany on the board of directors. The group was organized by volunteers and receives no direct financial assistance from VMware. To qualify for membership, a VMware customer needs only to register with the group and sign up for the VMUG Voice newsletter or for a Webcast or other content. There are no annual dues.
An indication of the group's commitment is the fact that 4,500 VMUG members attended the VMworld conference on August 26-29 in San Francisco, comprising about 20% of the event's attendees. The group also hosted a booth on the show floor, and in her opening remarks VMware's new chief marketing officer Robin Matlock urged attendees to stop by. According to Mariano Maluf, VMUG president and cloud ecosystem architecture lead at Coca-Cola, about 7,000 attendees did so.
Maluf is confident that some of those visitors will also become VMUG members. "We are by far the largest user group in the virtualization space," Maluf stated in an interview following VMworld. Next year, VMUG members might well make up 33% to 40% of VMworld attendees. The organization is in fact becoming a leading influence on the direction of VMware's product line and pricing strategy.
[ Want to learn more about VMware's introduction of its NSX networking virtualization platform? See VMware NSX May Transform Data Center Networks. ]
Describing VMware's NSX announcement as "top of mind," Maluf said there quite a bit of buzz going around as VMware made more details known about its network virtualization platform, which will be available by the end of the year. VMUG members were interested, he said, even though it has been clear since VMware acquired the software-defined networking startup Nicira for $1.26 billion that the company planned to move into virtual network provisioning and management. "It has the potential to be a game changer," Maluf noted.
VMUG members were also impressed by the NSX beta users VMware featured on opening day: Citi's CTO Greg Lavender, eBay's VP Sri Shivananda, and GE CTO appliances Lance Weaver. "The software-defined data center is a reality. Network virtualization is here," Shivananda told the VMworld crowd. It was powerful testimony to the VMUG membership, Maluf said. The vCloud Hybrid Service, VMware's version of the public cloud intended to serve as an extension of the virtualized data center, generated a lot of interest as well, Maluf said. VMUG members anticipated discussion around the service, which was first announced May 21.
VMware's addition of Savvis, a unit of CenturyLink, as a fully equipped vCloud Hybrid Service provider proved to VMUG members that VMware is serious about making the service available. Savvis operates 50 data centers around the world with both cloud and hosted services. That's larger than any previously announced public cloud partner, and VMware plans to guarantee customers the latest vCloud suite features by installing and operating the hybrid cloud service itself.
The addition of vCloud 5.5 with Automation Center and vSphere 5.5, Maluf said, indicate that "a steady cadence of innovation" is occurring at one of his company's primary vendors. "I'm not speaking for Coca-Cola," Maluf continued, noting that company policy doesn't allow him to comment on particular vendors. But the VMUG members that he spoke to want a path to future cloud operations with an outside party that can supplement their internal virtualized environments. "[The VMware announcements] give them assurance of a seamless way to accelerate that development," Maluf said.
Learn more about the future of network virtualization by attending the Interop conference track on Cloud Computing and Virtualization in New York from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4.