VMworld 2014. No limits! Err, yes there are!

“NO LIMITS” shout the 10ft high ad boards around the vast conference centre.

At VMworld Europe in Barcelona the virtualisation giant is keen to stress how rapidly moving and changeable is the world in which we live. It’s a “liquid world”, says CEO Pat Gelsinger, one where we have moved from “rigid structures to liquid business” where the old adage “built to last” must become “built to change”.

In the world of IT this calls, says Gelsinger, for “agility, bravery, change”. That’s because IT is simply awash with barriers; between cloud and traditional applications, between on-premises and off-premises infrastructure etc etc. We must, said the Pennsylvania farm boy (his description) turned tech CEO, “conquer the silos” and change “or to and”.

VMware does its best to hammer the message home with speaker-straining basslines, dry ice and dancers at the 9am keynote, and backs it up with apparently supporting quotes from the likes of real geniuses Isaac Newton and Arthur C Clarke.

But in reality the world of VMware is all about limits. It’s not an open source community. It’s a commercial business whose bottom line is its, err, bottom line, and its modus operandi is all about making sure there are limits; that once you’re locked into the VMware ecosystem you’re more or less stuck there.

In the small corner of VMware that interests me as storage editor the limits are all too apparent. Its VSAN storage virtualisation tool, for example, only works with VMware’s vSphere platform (never mind other hypervisors or physical servers) and it only provides storage to VMware virtual machines via a proprietary protocol.

And in VMware’s recently announced EVO:Rail hyper-converged appliance we have a product that only works with VMware virtual machines and at present is constrained by very definite limits of scalability.

All of which leaves aside the big picture that once you’ve deployed VMware as a virtualisation environment you’re going to have to spend a lot of time and money to provide things like storage and backup for the new environment.

Why do companies like VMware try so hard to convince us they’re some kind of altruistic foundation, when we all know they exist to make profits and the best way they can do that is to lock people in? And really, why over-egg the pudding with the language of freedom and liberation?

Please, tell us how you think your products are the best at what they do but do drop the pretence that you’re providing IT without limits.

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