Commodity Sux

28 08 2011

Everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock recently knows about HP’s impending exit from the consumer PC and tablet market. HP has come to the shocking conclusion that playing in a purely commodity market just isn’t much fun. In fact in a recent Wall Street Journal article, they were quoted as saying, “facing low margins and low growth in the PC businesses.”

HP’s Consumer Quandary

Many might say that it’s a natural progression of a mature market, this march toward pure commoditization. Some might also argue that such scenarios reward companies for doing things leaner, meaner, and more efficiently. Look, Wal-Mart has clearly been successful doing just that right? Well, that might be true, but I think that even Wal-Mart would admit if backed in the corner that it sees the storm clouds on the horizon. They are rapidly searching for profit expansion, new markets, and higher margins throughout their business. The reason for this dire search is fairly simple, and it’s what caused HP to want to exit the consumer market… The reason is, “once you finish the price/efficiency/speed race to the bottom and you look around and see others still alive…what then?” Well, you get stagnabusiness – (a state of business with faltering stock performance, uninteresting and uninspiring business growth, and a brain drain from the departure of more radical thinkers from the company)

Why would I write an article about this, with me being a virtualization geek? Well, it’s because I see VMware pushing hosting and service providers down this road at a rapid pace. Here at VMworld 2011, I’m hearing and seeing a lot written, spoke, and demoed about how end-users and stand-alone companies can freely move their resources in and out and between and with both Public and Private cloud infrastructures. This is a tremendous win for these consumers, but I also hear a great deal of troubling things about the technologies that will be forced upon service providers to allow for this ease of migration for these end users/companies. I can’t help but feel that this will be forcing an unprecedented level of commoditization among providers. I’m extremely concerned that the only differentiator between most providers will eventually become solely based upon pricing. I don’t want to participate or compete in such a market. There are no “real” winners in such a market…only various levels of starving survivors. I sort of feel that what VMware is doing is something akin to the following scenario:

“A fictitious state doesn’t want to build its own highway system so it sells a bond to a private company that allows the company to construct a highway and allow that company to then have the right to levy tolls against the users of the highway. Later after the road becomes increasingly popular and the company becomes profitable, the state decides that they want to encourage more users and grow the areas around the highway, so they force the company to construct on and off ramps that allow drivers to avoid the company’s tolled exits.”

This is close to my opinion about the direction that VMware is moving…and I don’t like it.

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VMworld 2009 Final Thoughts

29 10 2009

(Sorry for the extreme lateness of this content…I had some pretty serious career changing activities lately that precluded posting…)

I left my heart in San Francisco!… Ok…yeah…I had to resort to the corny reference…I just couldn’t resist. I actually did have a great time in San Fran, and being my first time there…I can understand some of the attraction to the area.

On a scale of 1 to 10…with 1 being the most worthless waste of time my life’s ever seen and 10 being time so well spent that I would have sold my first born for it…I give VMworld 2009 a…

6

It was a valuable few days. Perhaps not for all of the reasons that I would have wished…but in general…the things that I felt were lacking were somewhat made up for by gains in areas that I’d not fully planned for.

Best of show:

  • Solid, but not spectacular, instructor-led sessions.
    • I did not (nor did a HUGE number of other folks) get into all of the sessions that I wanted, but I got into quite a few. The sessions appeared generally well organized and for the most part hit on exactly what I expected out of them. I felt some of the sessions were a little light on high-level technical details even though they were listed as being for the advanced track, and many times they attempted to cover topics that they had no reason to believe could be given proper credence in the time allotted. You know…I can’t speak for everyone else…but I’d prefer if a conference would provide the option of letting you pick “quality” over “quantity” and would thereby offer “true” deep-dive type instruction on a few specific topics for once.
    • In the sessions that I attended, the stations were generally ready to go and there were not a lot of technical issues during the session, although I did hear from many other attendees about major issues in other sessions.
    • Marketing to Content ratio was hit and miss…some sessions were almost entirely marketing poo…while others were dead on technical. Generally speaking…the VMware-led sessions = Most Direct Content vs. the Third-party sessions = Majority Marketing Spin/Gibberish
  • Superb Networking Opportunities
    • Met some great folks that I know will become lifelong contacts.
    • Super opportunity to interact with others from industries outside of your own to share and develop ideas and possibilities.
    • Super parties, tweetups, and other extra-curricular activities…Mucho props to J Troyer and co. For setting up several of the tweetups.
  • Schwag, shcwag, and more schwag…
    • So many shirts…I think I could have flown into town with just shorts and slacks…and still come back with enough pairs to make the week plus some.
    • My kids greatly enjoyed the NetIQ flying monkey. I can’t say that I appreciated it much after listening to it for hours on end after I returned home…but at least it’s cheap entertainment right?

Overall, I had a good time and I felt it was a worthwhile experience. I agree with many other bloggers and commenters though…very anticlimactic in general and there was certainly no huge “Wow”-type moment. Oh well…here’s hoping next year will have enough of those types of moments to make this year’s VMworld a distant memory!