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Will VMware Still Exist in Five Years?

Brian Madden's Blog

VMware deserves a lot of credit. Even though hardware virtualization has been around for decades in one form or another, we wouldn't have it in the x86 space without VMware. The hardware and OS vendors would have been happy to keep selling hardware that was only 20% utilized. VMware turned this industry on its head. But it has awoken the slumbering giant that is Microsoft...

[Note from the author: This wasn't an article I intended to write right now. But after Alex Barrett blogged about a conversation I had with her last week on this very topic, my inbox has been flooded with emails asking "Did Alex really quote you properly?" and "Are you crazy?" The answers to those two questions are "yes" and "quite possibly."]

VMware deserves a lot of credit. Even though hardware virtualization has been around for decades in one form or another, we wouldn't have it in the x86 space without VMware. The hardware and OS vendors would have been happy to keep selling hardware that was only 20% utilized. VMware turned this industry on its head. They deserve credit not only for the move towards virtual hardware, but also for the whole VDI concept. (Even though VMware did not initially embrace VDI, the early adopters / creators of the concept couldn't have done it without VMware.)

So kudos to VMware for doing some awesome stuff.

But VMware will face some tough times ahead:

VMware has awoken the slumbering giant that is Microsoft. Sure, there have been isolated cases of smaller companies successfully competing against Microsoft, or smaller companies partnering with them (e.g. Citrix), but in general, if you're a software vendor and Microsoft puts you in their crosshairs, you days are numbered. Microsoft will add many of VMware's core features into the base OS over the next several years without really increasing the price. And in addition to Microsoft, many other companies are entering the hypervisor space, including Citrix, Novell, Sun, Oracle, and even Phoenix Technologies (the BIOS makers).

Of course VMware has the first-mover advantage in the virtualization market, and conventional business wisdom suggests this can help a company win long-term. But history is full of wildly successful businesses who only entered a market after another "first mover" blazed the trail. Look at Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Starbucks, Microsoft--none of these was the first company in their sapce, and each of them dominates today.

I don't want to minimize the impact that VMware has had on the industry. But I think in five or ten years, VMware will be more significant for what they did in the 2000s, not what they're doing at that time.

I'll write another article tomorrow about what VMware could do to maintain their dominant position. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments today. Here are some points to kick-start the conversation:

VMware is doomed

VMware will continue, no problem

What does VMware need to do to survive?

This post appeared originally here and is republished in full with the kind permission of the author, who retains full copyright.

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