Why Does Microsoft exhibit at VMworld?

Why Does Microsoft exhibit at VMworld?

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I’ll be posting more this week about what you’ll see when you visit the Microsoft booth (#1431) at VMworld 2010 U.S. conference next week. You can read an overview at NetworkWorld.

But last week a virtualization industry insider and consultant who has followed Microsoft virtualization for 5+ years and has met with Microsoft at the last 5-6 VMworld conferences, wrote the following to me:

“I really don't get why you guys insist on exhibiting at VMworld. The number of people stopping by must be huge to justify it.”

His email made me pause. If this gentleman doesn’t know why we’re there, then many others must wonder the same. I/we answered that question lots of times the first few years at VMworld, but the questions have diminished in the last few years. So I reflected on why we participate at VMworld, and wanted to share our thinking. At the high level, VMworld attendees are Microsoft customers: 

·        Approximately 75% of VMworld attendees run Windows Server (estimate based on industry analyst data of virtualized OSes)

·        About 50% of VMworld attendees run Microsoft server applications, such as Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint (estimate based on market share data)

·        Nearly 90% of VMworld attendees run Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7 and MS Office (estimate based on market share data)

We first chose to exhibit at VMworld in 2005 because it was marketed as an industry event, and we wanted feedback on our virtualization solution from the early adopters. Since then, most booth visitors at VMworld have encouraged Microsoft’s participation at the event because they benefit from industry competition and they have questions for us. Here’s a summary of highlights from each year:

·        At VMworld 2005, attendees kicked the tires on Virtual Server, and Diane Greene stopped by the booth to thank us for being there. This was the only time a VMware executive came to our booth.

·        At VMworld 2006, the booth was so crowded we gave out 1,500 t-shirts in 150 minutes on Day 1; we handed out 4,600 t-shirts during the entire show. We generated 300+ sales leads. See a recap here.

·        At VMworld 2007, we had 200+ sales leads and a busy booth with people interested in “Viridian” and “SoftGrid.” See blog post here.

·        At VMworld 2008 Europe, we launched Windows Server 2008 and gave out 2,000 copies of the launch kit. It was the first time European customers saw us at VMworld, and we received over 200 sales leads. See Mike Neil’s interview here.

·        At VMworld 2008, we reached 3,800 attendees in less than 90 minutes, which translated into 175K visits in 7 days to a marketing website. We also co-presented with VMware about the Server Virtualization Validation Program, and met with representatives of 55 VMware partners.

·        At VMworld 2009 Europe, over 250 people attended our session. We handed out 500 copies of eval software, and met with representatives of 30 VMware partners.

·        At VMworld 2009, the first year of our 10x10 booth, we attracted 2,500 new followers to Microsoft via social media, and generated about 100 sales leads.

·        At VMworld 2010 and VMworld Europe 2010 … we shall see.

We get a ton of value from participating in the industry discussions at VMworld and, based on the feedback we get at the booth, conference attendees appreciate that we’re there.

I’m interested in your thoughts on our attendance at VMworld. Should we try to expand our presence at VMworld, or some other industry event? Should we opt out and focus on adding more virtualization content to Microsoft conferences (e.g., MS Management Summit, MS TechEd, Worldwide Partner conference)? Or should we just print lot, lots more Microsoft t-shirts?


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  • Mike Laverick - RTFM Education - www.rtfm-ed.co.uk

    I think you are MORE than welcome to attend VMworld. As vExpert I'm open minded enough to be interested in ALL forms of virtualization, even Microsofts. What sometimes irks people  is how in the past Microsoft have used their attendence to behave in what some would say in a unprofessional or childish manner. I'm thinking of the frankly embarrasing Las Vegas debacle, where your guys were handing out dollar chips with "VMware costs way to much" on them.

    I know there was a bit of bru-ha-ha concerning the size of booths last year. I guess that MSFT/CTXS have a fair gripe there, but given this restriction came after the Las Vegas fiasco, then I can kinda see VMware's position too. After all VMworld is VMware's party not an industry-neutral shindig, it costs them money to put it - on and when your a guest at party a certain level of polite behaviour should be expected....

    So here's  hoping that debate has become more sophisticated than "Use us were cheap"....

  • Mike - thanks for reading and the feedback. Your credentials preceed you, and as a vExpert it's good to hear we're on your radar. I rarely, if ever, hear that from vExperts.

    We aim to be professional and honest in our debates. Your feedback, and feedback from other customers and partners, keeps us focused on that aim. Let us know when we cross into the gray area.


  • All the major points were touched on. Vmware has always contended that they are vendor neutral and that their primary aim is to provide virtualization as an unbiased capability. Since a LARGE majority of vmware customers are vitualizing a microsoft application or os, Microsoft presence at vmworld is as valued as any. While I agree that the chips at the vegas show were probably just a bad idea, in the perspective of being open minded about virtualization the chips did represent a valid point. Advanced capabilities aside, one of the largest values to virtualization is the efficient utilization of assets. If that doesn't translate to cost reduction I dont know what does. In this space Microsoft has a valid yet competing virtualization platform. While I agree that it is not as flexible (or maybe a better way to say it is evolved) as vmware, the cost differences alone make it a required consideration from a budgetary perspective.

    In an environment where your customers are running %75 microsoft on the vm's, not only is the virtual platform cheaper, but the guest os software licensing is reduced also. In a vmware environment you must purchase licensing for each instance of microsoft server running as if it were a live host, on top of what you paid for the vmware licenses. In a hyper-v environment 5 virtual instances of windows per license is allowed. That equates to an %80 reduction in microsoft cost when compared to the same number of vm's in a vmware environment.

    When you consider the significant potential cost saving of a mixed environment, additional to the environment savings just from virtualizing, it just makes sense for there to be a mixed architecture. It should be considered at the least. Obviously the solution must still accomplish the objectives and be technically as simple as possible.

    To bring this back to point. The reason for Microsoft to be present at vmworld is that there is a common customer base with a common set of issues and interest addresses simultaneously by the technologies produced by these two companies. In the end it will only benefit the people who use and rely upon these solutions for both Microsoft and Vmware to continue to support the others technologies. The best (current) architectures I have seen rely on the strengths of both these products.

    As a personal note, I wish Microsoft would have bought VMWare and let them operate un-indentured or autonomously as they are now(or at least said to be).  Patrick, anything you can do to fix that? Also bring back Diane Green. lol.

  • @Brian T:  Your licensing information is incorrect.  Microsoft's server OS virtualization licensing rights are the same regardless of which hypervisor you are using.  If you license each VMware host with Datacenter Edition then you get to run as many Windows Server guests on those hosts as you want just the same as if you were running them on Hyper-V hosts instead.

  • @BrianT: Thanks for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts. For the people finding out booth this week (and it's not easy), they've expressed support for us paying the money and taking the time to attend. As I wrote in today's blog post, most people don't know much about Windows Azure. So it's been a good oppty for us to tell them about it, and how it's much different than vCloud. As for your personal note, that would be something. I have met the gent who evaludated them and Connectix back in the day (7+ yrs ago). I'll just say it's easy to play arm chair quarterback now.