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Looking Back at Issue No. 1: Would VMware Become the 'New Netscape'?

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Earlier this week I stumbled across the very first issue of Virtualization Review magazine. It was the March/April 2008 issue, and it was a new thing in the industry: the first print publication to cover the emerging field of virtualization.

What's a Hypervisor?
When I was first asked about being editor of a magazine covering virtualization (in 2007, many months before we produced the first issue), I remember thinking "OK, but first let me find out what the heck that is." I knew the word "hypervisor," and knew that it sort of had something to do with abstraction. I was also familiar with Parallels software, which I had on a MacBook Pro. I figured it was similar technology.

If it sounds like I was pretty clueless about virtualization, you're right. I still thought the "one server, one app" paradigm would dominate for years going forward. I knew that such an arrangement was an inefficient way to operate, but hey, it had worked for a long time; why mess with a good thing?

Yep, things have changed in the seven years since that first issue went out the door. Looking through the magazine brought back a lot of memories, and has also given me a strong sense of how far the industry's come since then. So I thought it would be fun to go through the issue with you, making some observations and comments about the past, present and future of virtualization, using that first issue as a guide.

Taking Aim at VMware
Let's start with the lead story in the UpFront section, which was dedicated to news and analysis. Here's the headline: Analysis: Taking Aim at VMware. The deck reads: With the release of Hyper-V, is VMware in danger of becoming the new Netscape? With the benefit of hindsight, that seems like a pretty silly question to ask.

At the time, though, it wasn't silly at all. Microsoft was just a few months away from including the first version of Hyper-V in Windows Server 2008. Hyper-V would be a free offering, and more than a few people were wondering if we were about to see Netscape 2.0 play out all over again: Would Microsoft's bundling of a new technology for free in Windows push aside the current market leader in that space?

As Analyst Al Gillen of IDC said in the article, "Microsoft has to be careful about how it bundles products together to not run afoul of antitrust regulations."

Still Leader of the Pack
Of course, that didn't happen, and over the years, VMware has remained comfortably the leader in virtualization, even though Microsoft has made some inroads. In the article, Gillen made a statement that's proven to be prophetic: "Eventually, the hypervisor will be kind of generic, so that's not where the battles are going to be fought," he said, and he was right. VMware has maintained its leadership, and keeps making vSphere better and better -- witness upgrades in vSphere 6.0 like Virtual Volumes, long-distance vMotion and improved Fault Tolerance. It's staying ahead of Hyper-V, although Hyper-V has also been substantially upgraded over the years.

However, while VMware remains in the lead when it comes to server virtualization, it hasn't fared as well in the current big-growth category, that of cloud computing. Although its vCloud Air product is well regarded, it hasn't moved much beyond the private cloud realm, while Microsoft Azure is firmly ensconced in the No. 2 spot behind Amazon Web Services (AWS), and is even challenging AWS in some circles.

More to come in future installments, as we continue our stroll down virtual memory lane.

Posted by Keith Ward on 06/26/2015 at 9:17 AM


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