Piecing together VMware's cloud strategy
By Steve Cimino, Associate Editor, SearchCloudComputing.com 18-Mar-2011
VMware has created its own cloud computing universe. It's even got its own complicated cloud language.
Through a variety of products, from its vSphere platform to its vCloud Director management software, VMware looks to virtualize and automate all applications in an amalgamation of public and private cloud services. But the company is up against a mighty group of competitors and already faces a litany of cloud challenges.
VMware is a big name, at least in server virtualization, so it is guaranteed to attract customers from its considerable base. But what will it really bring to cloud computing? How will the virtualization leader's cloud strategy pay off for IT pros in large organizations? Will VMware play a role in breaking cloud into the enterprise, or is it just another face in the crowd?
VMware's cloud acquisitions
One VMware strategy is to acquire other cloud-oriented companies and combine their specialties. In August of 2009, VMware spent US$362 million on application development framework provider SpringSource. The VMware/SpringSource combo then kicked off their partnership by buying UK-based Rabbit Technologies, an open source company that specializes in enterprise messaging software.
|Either by acquisition or affiliation, VMware wants to be all things cloud.|
And in early 2010, VMware purchased hosted email vendor Zimbra. VMware CTO Steve Herrod explained the Zimbra/SpringSource acquisitions by saying they'd "simplify IT for customers," and numerous executives noted that VMware was now focused on building out its cloud stack.
But did VMware overextend itself with all these purchases? Should the company focus on enterprise software and application development? Or is it all part of an emerging grand cloud plan?
Well, if VMware's cloud strategy involves building hype and gobbling up free press, the way the company handled its VMforce announcement would certainly qualify as a success. A website called VMforce.com quietly launched in early 2010, bringing about instant speculation that VMware and Salesforce.com would join forces on a new venture. This, of course, turned out to be the Platform-as-a-Service offering called VMforce.
VMware and Salesforce.com focus on different aspects of cloud, but VMforce was aimed not at traditional software developers but the more cloud-oriented Software-as-a-Service and Web services developers. For quite a while, the development platform was even touted as cloud computing's future.
Of course, it raised some eyebrows in December when Salesforce.com spent US$212 million on fellow cloud development platform Heroku. With a fully formed and popular platform in house, how can the still-in-beta VMforce grab any attention? Salesforce.com claims it'll receive full support, but VMware can't be too pleased at this turn of events.