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El Reg's virtualisation desk pulls out the VMworld crystal ball

MARVIN musings and other Gelsinger Gang guessing games

VMware Monster VM

VMworld 2014 kicks off in a little over a week.

El Reg will be on the spot to report on the news, but our preparation for the show means that if we speculate about it next week there's a risk ninja lawyers will emerge and run us through.

Today, therefore, is the day for speculation about the show and what we'll see there.

The most-anticipated renouncement concerns MARVIN, VMware's is-it-hardware-or-isn't-it converged something.

Too much has been said about MARVIN emerging at VMworld to write it off as a rumour. But details remain sketchy. Sticking our neck out here, MARVIN is a server configuration with ESXi installed on bare metal, all the vSphere goodness needed to get a lot of workloads going in a hurry, all in a rackable pizza box and a “if one server breaks, slot another one in and keep going just like Google” modus operandi. In other words, VMware's web-scale play. Maybe derived from the kit it's cobbled together for its own cloud.

So not a Nutanix-killer or clone and not a competitor for VCE's vBlocks either. Server-makers will be able to call their boxes “Marvin-ready” in the same way they can call servers “VSAN ready nodes”.

It's public knowledge that VMware is conducting a beta of vSphere and word on the street is beta two of vSphere 6 is what's getting a workout. Participants are under non-disclosure agreements, so there's not a lot of news out about just what's in the release. We hear it is not a major release in terms of big new features, but improves reliability, scalability mobility for virtual machines and is being tested to destruction in order to make it a really, really, sound piece of kit that vAdmins are going to enjoy.

We know VMware would really, really like to find a way to charge run-of-the-mill vSphere customers a bit more for its software. Having been bitten, hard and long, by the vTax RAM-based pricing debacle, Virtzilla may look to find another way to package vSphere with this release.

We've no specifics to back the following guesses, but it seems sound to assume we'll hear more on AirWatch and its future contributions to the vWorld, advances to the Horizon range and a new partnership or two spreading vCHS into more corners of the world. And maybe some more direction in hybrid cloud, possibly hand-in-hand with EMC announcing more virtual versions of its products.

In our “conceivable surprise announcements” pile is revisions to VSAN and NSX and an extension of VMware's relationship with Google.

In the “loose ends to be tied” pile is a renewed phones strategy. VMware has gone very quiet on its partnerships with handset makers. While Horizon clients are available for iOS and Android, Samsung's Knox and the new IBM/Apple tie-up mean Virtzilla can use a better story about dual-persona phones.

One last prediction: a recent canned VMware statement used this turn of phrase:

"... old, rigid structures melt away and increasingly liquid businesses use technology in new and innovative ways to gain competitive advantage ..."

Let's hope "liquid business" is a one-off, but don't discount the possibility that going with the flow is the new "agility".

Have we missed anything, wither an omission or a mis-interpretation? The comments are down there and you know how to use them. ®

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