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VMware's Maritz Plays the Bad Cop

(Blogging from San Francisco) VMware CEO Paul Maritz had a very interesting press conference at VMworld earlier this week, giving insight into his (and by extension, his company's) thinking on various topics.

First, I wouldn't expect vCenter to support Hyper-V or XenServer -- ever. When asked whether that would happen (and the questioner noted that Microsoft's System Center Virtual Machine Manager can manage ESX), Maritz danced a little, talking about how VMware's challenge is to support its own product. Then he tacked on a "if we have enough customer demand, we'll consider supporting Hyper-V in the future" phrase. What that says to me is that it ain't happening.

Maritz also said some harsh things about competitors, and even one of VMware's own partners. In answers to separate questions, he said that Microsoft, with live migration added to Hyper-V R2, "is now where we were three years ago."

It's clear, however, that Maritz sees Redmond as a major threat, because he didn't dismiss it the way he did Citrix. He basically said the XenServer platform and suite of products built on top are a non-factor in the industry. Citrix, he said, "has tiny marketshare" in the virtual space today, basically laughing it off.

Maritz may want to check that attitude at the door next time, though. Given that Burton Group analyst Chris Wolf recently listed XenServer 5.5 alongside vSphere as one of only two virtualization solutions that are enterprise production-ready today -- and it's cheaper than vSphere -- Maritz may be laughing too soon.

What was more strange was what he said about chip maker AMD. Asked about being able to move VMs between disparate (i.e. Intel and AMD) processors between clouds, which isn't possible, Maritz said "nobody's building clouds on [AMD] architecture ... it's all on x86 ... that war's over." Wow. I wonder what the folks in the large AMD booth on the show floor thought of that.

(Update: I erred on my characterization of Maritz' comment about AMD. He did not knock AMD. What he said was that the cloud will be built on the x86 platform and none other. He did not imply that AMD's x86 chips aren't in use; they are. The "war" he referred to was x86 vs. non-x86 architecture. The fault here is totally my own, and I wanted to apologize for the misunderstanding on my part. -- KW.)

One other comment that struck me at the press conference: Maritz said that there have been about half a million downloads of ESXi, the free, lightweight version of ESX. He said VMware "would like to know what they're doing" with it. Hold on a minute -- you release a product, get tons of downloads of that product, and have no idea what the users are doing with it? Shocking. Yeah, maybe it's time for some e-mailing and phone calls, VMware. When ESXi was released, VMware called it the future direction of ESX. I wonder if it still holds to that position, given that it doesn't seem real interested in seeing how it's being used in the real world.

Posted by Keith Ward on 09/03/2009 at 12:48 PM


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