VMWare appears to be positioning itself to provide the virtualized or cloud-based alternative to Oracle, Microsoft and IBM. This is a very interesting approach, and it will be interesting to see it play out over time. With Oracle and IBM taking a more systems-centric approach, meaning they are both providing the storage, computing and software stacks in the form of a system, this leaves Oracle’s traditional hardware partners out in the cold (HP, Dell, EMC, Netapp, etc.) along with budding potential partner Cisco. VMWare may envision themselves providing the Linux-based alternative to Microsoft in this game of strategic positioning. VMWare’s strategic advantage is that their entire stack is virtualization- and cloud-friendly. That would make sense given Maritz's Microsoft experience.
This diagram compares the various stacks from VMWare's perspective (e.g. they are all on top of VMWare instead of their own respective virtualization offerings). It compares Microsoft (orange), Oracle (red), VMWare (green) and IBM (wait or it....blue).
If that is the case, there are some open holes and some questions.
1. Does VMWare need their own flavor of Linux (a la Novell’s Suse)?
2. What database does VMWare include? There are open source alternatives such as MySQL, Postgres and the recently wounded Ingres. The problem is that these all employ a shared-nothing architecture which doesn’t fit the virtualization model. They could look at some of the NoSQL alternatives, but NoSQL = NoEnterprise and the enterprise is where VMWare makes their money. (shameless plug) They could look at using ScaleDB’s shared-disk storage engine for MySQL, which is virtualization friendly.
3. Does VMWare go after higher-level applications like Zoho, SugarCRM, etc.?
4. Does VMWare partner with SAP to provide the applications layer and would that work in a virtualized stack? Certainly the proximity of their Menlo Park campi is convenient.
The opportunity for VMWare to partner with HP, Dell, Cisco, and obviously EMC but probably not Netapp, seems very compelling. Combine this with a built-in cloud play for these potential partners and it makes a lot of sense. Oracle is enamored with Sun and their systems strategy. They are walking away from HP and Dell. It would be interesting to see VMWare walk into those companies with the grand partnering strategy and a complete cloud stack ready to go. It would then increase the stakes for Oracle’s systems play, because it would cut-off their fallback position.
It is always interesting to watch the industry giants try to out flank each other.
16 hours ago