Readers Weigh In: For RIM, Against vSphere5

Get a reality check from IT pros on the front lines regarding RIM's pros and cons and VMware's future.
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I'm sure you've noticed, but we media folks have our flaws. We are easily mesmerized by the shiniest new jewel, and dazzled by passionate presenters. We race to controversy, we form our opinions and stubbornly clasp them, and when all else fails we follow the crowd. Alas, sometimes we are the crowd. Too often, we like the sound of our own voices.

Realizing these shortcomings, we fund our own reader research, and we pay close attention to the comments readers leave--although, in all honesty, we at haven't made this last part easy, thanks to a clunky, arduous, and flaw-ridden commenting system. We are replacing it in the next few weeks, and have been testing it on various parts of our site (see: The BrainYard and BYTE). But more mea culpa on that later.

Despite the hurdles we place in your way, many of you feel strongly enough to persevere.

A small, but vocal handful of you weighed in on the fate of RIM after my review of the company's latest three BlackBerry handsets and OS 7.

"RobertinHouston" put things in perspective for me: "RIM is a tragic story of a device designed for, and with the assistance of, corporate IT departments that has fallen so far behind it is beyond repair." He goes on to say:

"I am sure there are a handful of BlackBerry diehards out there but judging from the number of people on airplanes I see who carry a BlackBerry and an alternate smartphone, the moment IT departments stop foisting these things onto reluctant users I suspect they will quietly disappear. It is unfortunate because RIM had such great promise. But they forgot that while the IT department might be the 'Customer' in the short term, the end-user is the real customer and in the end IT will follow their demand."

Rookie987 responded, addressing RobertinHouston directly:

"... here in 2011, 4 years after Apple started shipping its iPhone, they still don't have the depth, complexity, and capability of security controls that RIM had in 2006. The Android marketplace is still too chaotic for those kinds of capabilities. ... Don't denigrate corporate IT shops for the oversights of the vendors."

Mbonuchi605 concurred: "Yes, the iPhones and Androids are cool, but I don't need 'cool' to make support my business communications. I don't need Facebook, cameras, or games. I need a reliable communications platform."

Typically readers respond when there is controversy, or when the stakes are high. Very few issues have captured IT's attention lately like VMWare's announcement of vSphere5, where the company made some jarring pricing changes--later amended, to ease the pain but not end it. Our own virtualization research, detailed by InformationWeek's Art Wittmann on Wednesday, and depicted in a series of virtualization research charts, shows that not only are more workloads being virtualized, but also that trend isn't slowing down. And while a majority of today's workloads won't be affected by the pricing changes, tomorrow's most certainly will.

As Wittmann notes: "Only 7% of our respondents said the new licensing policy was 'good' or 'great,' while 61% found it to be a deterrent to adoption." He added: "Seventy eight of the 410 respondents to our survey left comments--that's more than typically do, and is a good sign that the nerve is still raw."

In fact, one angry respondent said: "The new licensing is in direct conflict with VMware design philosophy. Over provisioning [of memory] was the big selling point, now it's costing you a fortune. Stupid decision."

Many IT shops told InformationWeek these changes would compel them to look elsewhere. Microsoft, not surprisingly, says it will be talking openly about Hyper-V's economic benefits soon, roughly about the time VMWare is holding its user conference.

Lesson learned: It pays to listen.

Of course, it's always nice when readers lavish us with kudos. We media folks have egos, too, but you knew that. Dr Dobb's Editor-in-chief Andrew Binstock wrote a melodically ironic column, called [Dude|Sir], That's Not Programming, in which he combated arguments on whether computer science was a real science, and whether software engineering was real engineering. His supposition: It's an art. It makes for excellent reading and thinking, and, based on reader feedback, I'm not the only one who felt that way.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

Fritz Nelson is the editorial director for InformationWeek and the Executive Producer of TechWebTV. Fritz writes about startups and established companies alike, but likes to exploit multiple forms of media into his writing.

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