Last month I wrote an article describing what I perceived as VMware's challenges in the desktop space. While several people felt that the article too strong against VMware, the reality is that there are 28 comments that are generally in agreement with the concept of what was written. That carried on to BriForum 2009 Chicago a few weeks ago, where the overwhelming "theme" of the conversations I had with attendees was along the lines of, "Wow. That article was harsh, but it needed to be said."
Of course the "thanks for saying that" theme comes primarily from people outside of VMware. VMware employees (in general) are less enthusiastic of the article, with most of them feeling that my views are misguided and based on biased information. I also heard several VMware people say that I just write trash to pump up page views, and/or that I am a Citrix bigot and only love them and hate VMware. (Ironically Citrix employees think I bash them and accuse me of being in love with VMware!?!)
Anyway, I've got this meeting next week with a bunch of folks from the desktop team at VMware's campus in Palo Alto. They're going to brief me on where they are with everything and share their views about why they think I'm wrong about their stuff. I'll share my views with them about how they could be more effective with their products and positioning. Hopefully we'll end up with some understanding and we'll all be better for it! I'm really looking forward to my time with them. (Full disclosure: They are NOT paying for my time. I'm doing it because I want to understand them, and they're doing it because they want to understand my perspective.)
As a secondary goal, I'm hoping to convince them to implement a proper Microsoft MVP-like or Citrix CTP-like program where they have conversations like this with a broader audience (like the BriForum and VMworld presenters). I know a lot of people internally at VMware think their "vExpert" program is like that, but I can confirm that it's not at all the same. (And a lot of people are complaining about the same thing in the private vExpert forums.) I think there's a generally feeling that VMware is getting a bit arrogant, kind of like Citrix was five years ago, and I think a "VMware MVP" type program could go a long way. (Maybe it's time to resurrect the "Community Relations" plan that Ron Oglesby and I wrote for Citrix five years ago?)
To that end, what do you think I should ask VMware on Monday? What do you want to know about their products? What feedback can I give them? What can we ask them to do to better engage with the community?