Opinion VMware is making a play to wrest data centre control away from every other vendor and become the single door through which users and admin staff see data centre server, networking, and storage resources.
A data centre administrator will increasingly monitor, manage, and diagnose data centre resource problems through VMware APIs, using manufacturer-supplied plug-ins to link the VCenter server to supplier's boxes downstream in the stack.
Look at the raft of storage suppliers providing plug-ins at VMworld so that their arrays can be managed through VMware. Pretty soon it will make internal development resource sense for them to deploy their management software as a VMware virtual machine (VM) and simultaneous plug-in.
No storage vendor can withstand VMware. None appear to want to. If they gotta sell product into VMware shops that works with VMware then they will. They are already.
The storage suppliers are much farther along this road than the networking suppliers. Imagine what could happen with storage. All storage provisioning, monitoring, reporting, and management could be done through VMware. A VMware shop could, when looking to buy storage, say that it has to be managed through VMware and that it's simply not interested in any supplier-specific features outside of VMware.
Such supplier-specific features - read added value - means lock-in and extra expense and complexity. It will be simpler to go for the standard and that standard could be VMware-driven. All storage vendors could find themselves competing to deliver the best storage commodity that runs with VMware. Networking product vendors could look at this prospect and blanch.
Their boxes don't generally have X86-based controllers, which many storage suppliers use.
Networking vendors keen to avoid VMware-driven commoditisation should avoid using X86 controllers like the plague. Any X86 software can be likely turned into a VM and run in an ESX server. VMware's effect can be likened to taking server and network and storage box value-add and rendering it less and less relevant because everything is seen through a VMware admin's view and accessed through VMware.
VMware is becoming the new Microsoft.
Microsoft provided a good basic and cheap operating system for IBM PCs and as they became a standard, so too did Microsoft. All other PC operating systems fell twitching and screaming by the wayside. It's not a perfect comparison by any means, but why would any data centre operator, having adopted VMware, want to adopt anything else?