Dan's Take

VMware Is No Longer 'Hot,' but It's Still Important

It's now "the wiring in the wall," but that isn't a bad thing.

My firm considers an analysis of vendor briefings as part of our research -- not just what's being announced and by whom -- but a meta analysis of what topics the majority of vendors touch upon. While this type of research can't be considered a scientific survey, the results often correctly shine a spotlight on where the market is heading.

If the majority of briefings touch on a topic and the vendors are investing in working with that technology, it's pretty likely that customers are also considering an investment in that technology. After all, all vendors, regardless of size, have limited engineering budgets and are trying to invest only in efforts that will result in products that will produce large streams of revenue and, of course, greater market penetration.

If vendor briefings shine a light on industry trends, I've spotted an interesting VMware-oriented trend. It seems that VMware has slipped down from the mountaintop into the "checkbox" category. This means that vendors see some other technology as interesting and "sexy," and VMware is now considered the "wiring in the wall"; that is, it's in the environment and their products must work with it, but it isn't exciting anymore.

From one point of view, that doesn't pose a problem for VMware. It shows how successful the company has been in persuading enterprises to adopt its viewpoint and, subsequently, its products. VMware's platform is mentioned, if only obliquely, in nearly all the vendor presentations I attend. If VMware's products aren't in the slides, the vendor usually points out that they support VMware's products.

The contrary point of view is that other suppliers have captured VMware's mojo; they now represent the "sexy new technology" vendors are rushing to support.

Dan's Take: Losing the Sex Appeal
At one point in time, nearly every vendor I had a chance to speak with, including companies such as Citrix and Microsoft that were "frienemies" of VMware, made it a point to mention that their newest products either worked in a VMware-centric computing environment or were integrated into VMware's management, storage or security frameworks. Many times, in fact, this message was the point of the briefing. This meant that nearly every presentation I heard, regardless of whether it was focused on access, application, processing, storage or network virtualization, was really a VMware presentation.

As the industry conversation moved from various forms of virtualization to the related, but different, discussions of cloud infrastructure and Internet of Things, I observed the same thing. Nearly every presentation about cloud or some form of "XYZ as a Service" highlighted VMware and its products somewhere in the presentation.

VMware was at the top of the mountain, and everyone else was climbing up in the hopes of reaching its perch. I suspect that most vendors really wanted to push VMware over the pinnacle and down the other side to replace it at the top.

In the last quarter, nearly every briefing focused on how vendors are supporting Microsoft Azure, or containers that largely operate in a Linux-based computing environment. This implies that those two software environments are perceived, by the suppliers in question, to be where the market is heading. They, of course, want to be there in the hopes of capturing their share of the customer's money.

This analysis doesn't lead to the conclusion that VMware is no longer relevant. It has become the "wiring in the wall" for many enterprises. What is does indicate is that the buzz and excitement has moved elsewhere in the industry.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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