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6/5/2006
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VMware CEO Worries About Open Interfaces, Not Microsoft

As Microsoft is making its bid for the virtualization market, established player VMware is more concerned that the interfaces between operating system and related software pieces remain open, according to VMware's CEO.

VMware President Diane Greene said Monday that the virtualization software company isn’t worried about battling Microsoft and Linux distributors but will fight to ensure that the interfaces between the operating system and hypervisor are open.

At VMware's Virtual Infrastructure 3 launch in Cambridge, Mass., Greene said VMware won't fall victim to Microsoft or Linux distributors that incorporate the Xen hypervisor because VMware's platform is far too mature and advanced for rivals to catch up and because customers value virtualization's independence from the operating system.

Unlike rivals’ planned offerings, VMware's Virtual Infrastructure 3 virtualizes an entire infrastructure--not just one server--and offers support for mixed workloads, multiple operating systems and open standards.

Microsoft's planned hypervisor won't be available for another two years, but Greene said VMware vows that Microsoft will not be permitted to use its integration strategy with the operating system to lock customers into its proprietary virtualization API or technology.

"We all want to make sure that is open and freely available to anyone and is not used as a way to get proprietary advantage," Greene said. "It would be a real shame for this industry to go in that direction."

VMware launched its third-generation platform as the virtualization battleground shifts from stand-alone offerings to the operating system layer.

This year, Novell and Red Hat are expected to ship Linux OS upgrades with Xen hypervisor built in. And two weeks ago, Microsoft--which currently sells its stand-alone Virtual Server 2005 R2 product--announced plans to speed up development of a native virtualization hypervisor for the Windows server operating system as well as a management platform within two years.

At the VMware launch, one VMware customer said he’s not ruling out the possibility of cost benefits associated with having a hypervisor in the operating system but noted that he’s pleased with the return on investment he’s now getting from VMware.

"We've done a lot of Windows, some Linux, and now we'll do Solaris," said Jeff Hunter, a system engineer at Nationwide Insurance, Columbus, Ohio. “We looked at Microsoft Virtual Server and decided to stay with VMware. It was easy to figure out because VMware's VMotion is a key feature and the infrastructure is decoupled from the operating system, [which] makes it more efficient, secure and easier to manage."

VMware pioneered virtualization on the Intel platform and will lobby to ensure that the interface between the hardware and the hypervisor--as well as file formats and management interfaces--are open and standards-based.

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