VMware's Biggest Threat: It's Not Microsoft

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by: Gregory Ness

The tech industry loves great battles between rivals, and it is often tempting to frame challenges within the context of specific competitive battles. Many see the entrance of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) or even Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) into virtualization as VMware’s (NYSE:VMW) biggest threat. I beg to differ.

VMware’s biggest threat is virtualization-lite, or the confinement of the virtualization business case to within hypervisor VLANS. VMware needs to get enterprises to the bigger picture, the full realization of the benefits of virtualization in the data center, including VMotion. If it cannot, then its sheer share of the data center market will be many times smaller than otherwise, with or without Microsoft or Citrix.

Getting beyond virtualization-lite should be VMware’s number one goal. That would involve unprecedented work with related IT eco-system elements. VMsafe was a great step forward, but it didn’t deliver dynamic security solutions capable of protecting moving VMs.

Another area directly impacted and often overlooked is the network itself. That is, can a static network infrastructure manage, protect, maintain and/or deliver dynamic systems and endpoints? If it cannot, then that is a problem for VMware and an opportunity for the network solutions players.

That is why I think the biggest VMware requirement for success is dynamic infrastructure, or Infrastructure 2.0.

There are substantial virtualization and cloud computing initiatives that will also depend upon dynamic infrastructure. We’ve talked about this issue at Archimedius from both the standpoint of virtualization security and cloud computing. Yet I’m discovering that the issue is much bigger than that. Some enterprises get this and are moving to more dynamic infrastructure; yet others are trying to figure it out.

I think this issue is bigger for IT and networking than a weak global economy. It promises to produce an explosion of breakthroughs in network, endpoint and application intelligence.

Disclosure: Long Cisco.