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9/9/2009
09:53 PM
Charles Babcock
Charles Babcock
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VMware Feels Growing Pains Of Being A $1 Billion Firm

In a relatively brief period, VMware has gone from a small company to 2008 revenues of $1.9 billion. At VMworld in San Francisco, I got a sense of how that rapid growth leads to growing pains. For one thing, some of your best customers prefer your little competitors to you.

In a relatively brief period, VMware has gone from a small company to 2008 revenues of $1.9 billion. At VMworld in San Francisco, I got a sense of how that rapid growth leads to growing pains. For one thing, some of your best customers prefer your little competitors to you.A virtualization systems engineer, the person responsible for planning and implementing virtual servers at a major defense contractor, recounted: "Paul Maritz says virtualization makes things less complex. But virtualization brings its own set of complexities into the mix." We were sitting in the big hall of the Moscone Center where attendees sit down to eat breakfast. He didn't want to be identified because his company's legal department hates employees commenting on vendor's products.

Migrating a Linux application from its physical server to a virtual machine remains a tricky process, even though VMware has a P2V converter tool to help. The problem is there are 5 or 6 ways to do it, and VMware's converter may or may not make the kind of decisions you want to see in the resulting virtual machine.

The systems engineer praised Platespin for its ability to convert Linux P2V. Once a startup, Platespin was acquired by Novell in March 2008 for $205 million, and Platespin gets good reviews at this engineer's shop for its ability to create a virtual machines from Linux physical servers.

He also praised Vkernel's capacity planning and chargeback products. If you are looking to optimize your VMware environment, then some of the small third parties have been able to move faster than VMware on certain aspects of managing it.

Next, I ran into a representative of a major company, one that might have cause to be vexed at Cisco Systems barging into the blade market. This vendor wanted to cooperate with VMware, recommend its products and integrate its own management offerings with the VMware environment, but it was hard to get necessary integration information out of the company, he said. That is, his company wanted to move ahead of the crowd but VMware wasn't able to keep pace. Or it had reached a point of growth and confidence where it heeded its own priorities more than those of its heavyweight partners, to their dismay and chagrin.

Finally, I talked to Ratmir Timashev, the interesting Russian entrepreneur who works out of St. Petersburg and is CEO of Veeam, a producer of backup and replication software for VMware environments. His firm had offered advanced capabilities on VMware's embedded hypervisor, ESXi, and had gotten into a dispute with VMware when the company asked his firm to back off.

That is, not every third party is marching in step with VMware. In some cases they do things on their own that VMware would prefer they not do. The sense I got is that things on the virtualization front were moving so fast that VMware wants to tweak some products before other companies step in and start managing them. As VMware grows up, I'm sure, it will learn more about these tensions and disputes as the price of success.

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