VMware’s president looks at the competitive landscape

Quoting from Computer World:

VMware Inc. has dominated the virtualization market for some time. But the company is scrambling to stay ahead of an increasingly competitive landscape that includes Microsoft Corp. and Linux vendors. In an interview with Computerworld, VMware President Diane Greene talked about how working with the open-source community could help her company stay ahead.

ComputerWorld: Where would you like to see improvement, or new direction, in your core technology, ESX?
Diane Greene: We’re looking forward to having our core technology go out with the VT [Intel Corp.’s Virtualization Technology] and Pacifica [from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.].

CW: What will Pacifica and VT technology do for your virtualization technology?
DG: It will reduce the [performance] overhead of CPU virtualization. They will make the CPU virtualization run even better, thus opening up the market even more.

CW: As Microsoft and Linux vendors start shipping virtualization within their products, how are you going to keep your customers from switching?
DG: We are working well with the open-source community. We see ourselves as complementary in working together. We have a pretty phenomenal track record of bringing out major new functionality on a regular basis. And we have a very big road map of more things to do along that way. We are going to continue moving our stuff forward. We are going to continue our partnerships with the community at large. We announced this community source [program] to allow our partners to participate more fully, and we have resell arrangements with all the x86 hardware vendors. … Customers are going to have the broadest array of choice and flexibility.

CW: People wonder whether Microsoft will have the an impact on VMware similar to what happened to Netscape in the browser battle. Are there any lessons learned in what happened to Netscape?
DG: We see some differences between us and Netscape. One, the technology involved is much deeper. There’s a lot more complexity and robustness requirements on it as well. No one cared if a browser crashed. And we have very strong partnerships with the hardware community, which Netscape was not able to do. We continually try to work with Microsoft because we think we are bringing them a lot of value. We’re helping move Windows into the data center, which we think is a very good thing for them.

CW: What are you trying to do with the open-source community?
DG: We are making sure that Linux runs really well with our products. And we regularly contribute to the open-source community, too.

CW: While XenSource has not yet released a product, do you see them as a potential competitor?
DG: I don’t know where they are going to play, because we haven’t seen the robustness, performance and functionality of their products. We are certainly saving our customers huge amounts of money today … and will continue to lead. We also launched an initiative around APIs to standardize some things around virtual machines, like how the OS runs in the virtual machine or what the disc format of the virtual machine is. And we certainly want to partner with XenSource and Microsoft in those areas.

CW: What are you doing with Sun Microsystems?
DG: We are supporting Solaris x86 in a virtual machine. We have had a lot of customers show a great deal of interest in that.

CW: Are there any other operating systems you would like to support?
DG: We would love to support a Mac OS. They’ve announced that they are going to move to the Intel platform — that’s the only reason I say that.

CW: How important is R&D for you – what percentage of your revenue is being spent there?
DG: It’s a huge investment for us. I can say we spend well above the norm. We plow our money back into R&D.

CW: What’s your relationship with EMC? What difference has it made to VMware’s life?
DG: We operate as a completely independent subsidiary. We’re not integrated. And this has been very important for us to do, because we’re all about heterogeneity within the x86 ecosystem. Having a parent like EMC has allowed us to be comfortable to continue to do bold things.