At this year's VMworld 2012 conference in San Francisco, VMware announced the release of their new vCloud Suite 5.1, as well as the next vSphere 5.1 release. With over 20,000 local attendees and 10,000 more online viewers, VMworld 2012 is the largest and most successful VMworld conference ever. To give you an idea of its scope, VMware CTO Steve Herrod stated that during this year's conference, VMworld would host more than 27,500 lab seat hours and that more than 200,000 VMs would be created in the labs themselves. Reflecting vSphere's global appeal, this year’s VMworld hosts a surprising contingent of international attendees with the keynote sessions being translated into both Chinese and Japanese.

Of course, the big news at VMworld 2012 is the release of the vCloud Suite 5.1. The vCloud Suite 5.1 is what VMware positions as the next evolution in virtualization—where virtualization moves beyond simple server virtualization into what VMware terms the "software-defined datacenter." The goal of the software-defined datacenter is to make IT infrastructure more efficient and agile by extending the concepts of  virtualization and abstraction to the storage and networking portions of the datacenter. Just as server virtualization abstracts physical compute and memory resources, the software-defined datacenter uses the same concepts of abstraction, resource pooling, and automation, and it applies them to the physical networking and storage infrastructure of the organization. Today, deploying new VMs is easy, but provisioning new storage and changing physical networking is much more time consuming. Virtualization of these critical components allows them to be abstracted into software entries, freeing applications from their dependence on the underlying physical infrastructure making it much faster and easier to deploy and move applications.

VMware also announced the release of vSphere 5.1. The new vSphere 5.1 is an incremental release that follows what Pat Gelsinger termed as the "tick-tock release cycle." The tick-tock release cycle is essentially what Microsoft has been following for the last few years—there's a major product release every other year, with a minor release in between. The new vSphere 5.1 represents a minor release. Some of the changes include support for 64 vCPUs , 1TB of RAM per VM, and more than one million IOPs per VM. Incoming VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger also announced the ending of VMware’s unpopular vRAM licensing scheme in favor of a far simpler CPU based model.