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VMware puffs its chest

Timothy Stammers | Sept. 24, 2008
Much of VMware's vision is still years from realisation.

Paul Maritz, President and Chief Executive Officer of VMware greeted more than 14,000 attendees at VMworld 2008.

At its user conference last week VMware painted a picture of itself as a major force driving data centre automation and federated cloud services. Much of that vision is still years from realisation. On more solid ground, VMware detailed products that will bolster it server virtualisation lead when they ship next year.

VMwares technical lead is assured for server virtualisation

Ovum logoVMwares most important near-term task is to grow its customer base in the fast-growing market for server virtualisation and management tools as quickly as it can before Microsoft and others muscle in on its act. That is why the most important developments that VMware talked about last week were new and enhanced server management tools.

In the virtual server management arena VMware is already significantly ahead of Microsoft and others. The new tools that will ship next year will maintain that lead in areas such as configuration, failover, chargeback, application monitoring and workflow.

Unlike those from Microsoft, VMwares tools do not work with rival v-word systems, and the company says there is not yet enough demand from its customers to make it worthwhile to change this situation. By some estimates VMware accounts for 80% of server virtualisation.

Around 14,000 people were at the conference in Las Vegas. That is an impressive number given the current squeeze on spending in the US. As a comparison, Microsofts Tech-Ed North America conference pulled in around 15,000 people this year.

VMware has no choice but to come from behind on the desktop

VMware CEO Paul Maritz said at the conference that rivals have followed VMware into server virtualisation because thats where the money was. Note the past tense. Now Maritz, like others, expects demand for desktop virtualisation to blossom over the next couple of years, and equal the demand for server v-word products.

So VMware stressed its commitment to desktop virtualisation. Maritzs keynote envisioned people using a variety of thin or thick clients PCs or handheld machines to access virtual desktops stored in the cloud. Stressing VMwares roots as a desktop player, Maritz said VMware is in a strong position to offer a great synthesis of desktop and server v-word systems. That statement appears to be a recognition that customers will want to buy desktop and server v-word systems from the same supplier.

This is where Microsoft and Citrix Systems, the third player in the virtualisation market, have an advantage over VMware. Citrix claims that its XenApp software powers a gigantic 100 million clients and is used by 99% of the Fortune 500. Microsoft for its part offers similar Terminal Services software and of course owns the Windows client.


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