Curtain Raiser: At VMworld, Cloud Will Be Center Stage

Things are about to get noisy in the cloud computing world, as this week marks VMworld San Francisco, VMware’s user conference. For VMware (s vmw), it represents a chance to show off its market position in virtualization, its ability to attract partners (and also potential competitors) to exhibit, and its roadmap to lead the IT industry to a world of private and public clouds. For the rest of the industry, it’s a chance to piggyback on the epicenter of buzz and hope to be heard above the noise of the crowded space.

Here are some product areas to watch:

Data Center and Management Products. vSphere and vCenter — mainstay products for VMware that provide the underlying platform and management for virtual compute environments — will see plenty of attention. The bulk of the lab sessions focus on these two products, ensuring more folks are trained on the stuff that sells today.

Collaboration. I’m personally looking forward to any additional Zimbra-related announcements. VMware already announced the Zimbra appliance, an intriguing twist likely to boost channel sales. See more at The Cloud Collaboration Wars Ramp Up.

Developer Tools. With Redhat (s RHT) leveraging JBoss as a Platform-as-a-Service foundation, VMware should have plenty to say about the software acquired from SpringSource, which now falls under VMware’s application development product category. SpringSource is at the core of VMware’s Open PaaS strategy, and we may see more along the lines of the partnerships VMware has already announced with Google (s goog) and (s crm).

Cloud Computing. Perhaps the most telling measure of success for VMware at this show will be its ability to draw attention to its new cloud software offering. For the last several years, Amazon (s amzn) has held the crown of cloud computing king, although its software isn’t shared, only accessed via an API. Microsoft (s msft) emerged with Azure, which will be great for Windows-centric customers. Then Rackspace (s rax) recently launched Open Stack to build a Linux and LAMP-stack like open source approach to cloud stacks. Along the way, smaller companies like Eucalyptus,, and more recently, Nimbula have emerged.

Now it’s VMware’s turn to remind us that it put virtualization into cloud computing to begin with, and that its integrated approach of empowering the data center for private clouds, the service providers for public clouds, and every hybrid flavor in between is the way to go.

VMware has a lot going for it, and its anticipated cloud computing stack offering dubbed “Project Redwood” could quickly emerge as a formidable player in the choice and evolution of cloud stacks. The company’s expertise across enterprises and service providers will be useful for implementing the hybrid cloud strategies so many companies envision.

VMware has not disappointed in terms of the breadth of its vision, and what was born as a provider of hypervisors has now grown into one of the most powerful infrastructure software companies on the planet. The company’s tentacles now reach far beyond hypervisors and into development frameworks, collaboration tools and the cloud. Let’s see what else it has in store.

Related GigaOM Research (sub req’d): VMware’s Cloudy Ambitions: Can It Repeat Hypervisor Success?

Gary Orenstein is Host of The Cloud Computing Show.