If anyone attending VMworld this year still holds onto doubts about virtualization being a vital and rapidly growing part of the IT infrastructure, those thoughts were likely erased by the sheer size and scope of the event this year. According to VMware, more than 10,000 attendees have descended on the Moscone Center for this year's event, compared to 7,000 last year. Even the number of exhibitors and sponsors has increased, jumping from 82 to 147 in number.

Windows IT Pro Technical Editor Mike Otey and I are attending VMworld this year, and I'll be documenting some of our vendors discussions and our own observations over the next day or so. If you have any questions you'd like us to ask virtualization vendors (or thing you'd like us to report on), let us know by adding comments to this blog post.

Kace, Pano Logic, and...Microsoft in a Tiny Booth?

My first appointment was an early morning meeting with Marty Kacin and Lubos Parobek of Kace, a provider of systems management appliances. Kace has been selling their Kace appliance for some time, but they've recently announced support for both virtual and physical machines.

During the demo, two features of the Kace system were notable: the first was a drag-and-drop provisioning feature that allows IT admins to simply click on and drag colored boxes--representing remote software installs--into a software distribution package. The other was a full-featured script editor that allows non-programmers to create powerful scripts using a mouse-driven interface.

Kace CTO & President Marty Kacin also came up with one of the most notable quotes of the day when he described the Kace system as a "jukebox for digital assets in the enterprise." Kace has other news related to virtualization coming down the road, but I've been sworn to secrecy until they're ready to release the news officially.

My next visit was with Pano Logic, a startup that has developed the ultimate thin client: the pano device, a gleaming cube that houses all of the ports and connectors for local peripherals, but doesn't have any RAM, CPU or local storage whatsoever. Clients run off virtualized desktop software that runs on a virtual machine running in the data center. Pano Logic Vice President of Product Management Michael Fodor held up the Pano device for the photo you see here, which shows the available ports on the underside of the gadget.

Fodor stressed that several recent developments helped make the pano device a possibility, ranging from the increasing reliability and predictability of networks, to the advent and adoption of virtualization in the data center. As a quick aside, the Pano Logic solution also can save enterprises significant energy costs: the pano device draws about 3 watts, compared to 15 watts for other thin clients and 150-300 watts for traditional PCs.

While VMworld is clearly an event that shines a bright spotlight on VMware, Microsoft managed to make an appearance at the event. Mike Otey and I met with Microsoft to have a chat with Larry Orecklin (General Manager, System Center Marketing) and Mike Neil (General Manager, Virtualization) about the latest from Microsoft in the virtualization space. Last week Microsoft released System Center Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM), which will be upgraded in the future to manage not only virtualized environments using Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server Virtualization (WSV), but also support for third-party hypervisors from Xen and VMware. Orecklin explained that this development will make it easier for customers to integrate their existing physical and virtualized assets in the future.

I'll have some additional Microsoft news in an upcoming post, but I couldn't help noticing how small Microsoft's presence was at the show. In addition to a modest booth (which was dwarfed by VMware's massive presence), Microsoft had a single meeting room stuck back in the corner of one of the show floors, next to the exit and maintenance equipment. Granted, this show is all about VMware, but I have to think that Microsoft isn't accustomed to occupying booth space in the convention trade equivalent of nose bleed seats.