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VMware's Cloudy Future

VMware is clearly aiming for the cloud with vSphere, but that is not the allusion I intended in my headline. By cloudy I mean VMware's future is uncertain.

VMware, as I see it and reported recently, has two main problems: Microsoft and itself.

Microsoft, although late in the virtualization market, is taking direct aim at VMware. Redmond now has Hyper-V, which is getting better each day and is free, as well as a line of desktop and application virtualization tools. Microsoft also has a rather amazing partner in the form of Citrix. That's the technical challenge.

The bigger challenge is one of corporate philosophy. Now let me state for the record that I admire VMware greatly. They are a pleasure to work with, and their typical employee has double my measly brainpower. The only reason I am justified in offering advice is I talk to customers and virtualization third parties. And from these convos I see VMware making many of the same mistakes that doomed Netscape.

Netscape was simply not friendly to third parties. I've lunched with probably two dozen virtualization CEOs and at least 23 have told me Microsoft is far easier to work with. Now that may well change in the future, but it is today's reality.

The other issue is that VMware is building an elaborate and impressive cloud ecosystem around its core hypervisor. That may make technical sense, but IT fears this level of lock-in. VMware simply must be open to other virtualization technologies.

VMware has a massive lead, but it is shrinking fast. I want this company to make the right moves so we are talking about them 10 years from now, not wondering where they went.

Posted by Doug Barney on 11/12/2010 at 1:18 PM


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