VMware is bidding for a central role in a reorganized enterprise workplace by adding Socialcast to a growing list of end-user applications. VMware already is vital to how companies run their data centers. Now it's trying to become vital to companies' collaboration strategy.
In doing so, it's competing more and more directly with the Microsoft/Citrix alliance, the one force that can stall its march toward dominating the virtualized enterprise.
Virtualization competitor Citrix has an edge in certain aspects of its end-user virtualization technology: a broad base of existing virtualized users, via Presentation Manager (a product now known as XenApp); support from Windows Server for delivery of a high-definition end-user experience; and its broadly applicable multi-device Receiver client software. At its Synergy show May 23-26, it demonstrated how the Air Force and Defense Intelligence Agency had turned to its XenClient for secure operations, a potential trump card.
With its acquisitions, VMware shows it won't try only to chase Citrix on these fronts. Rather, it's trying to create a virtualized end-user experience that includes advanced collaboration applications. In addition to owning Zimbra email, it recently acquired SlideRocket presentation systems, and recently launched Horizon App Manager for provisioning end users in the enterprise cloud. VMware shops that buy the latter message are banking on VMware to deliver a full technical suite in due time.
No price was mentioned in the acquisition, but the swiftness with which Socialcast was acquired on the heels of the launch of Horizon App Management on May 17, and the acquisition of SlideRocket at the end of April, indicates there was probably little haggling over price.
VMware, with revenue growing at 33% at the end of the first quarter, is using its $1.3 billion in cash to broaden its appeal to end users and establish itself as the premier supplier of cloud collaboration apps in the enterprise. It's not enough for VMware to dominate data center server virtualization; the next frontier is the detached and mobile desktop, virtualized via VMware.
"We see strong customer demand for a new way of working," said Brian Byun, VP and general manager of VMware cloud applications, in an interview. In other words, virtualization software opens new possibilities in the workplace that VMware will drive forward. New forms of communication, collaboration, and shared creativity will displace the old way of doing things. With VMware's virtualized applications, "you won't be tethered to one desktop or one device," said Byun. Microsoft Office and SharePoint, by the way, are toast.