Thursday, January 18, 2007

VMware: Tales of a true MarketBuster!



PS: I am too eager to post it, typos and corrections will follow. consider this a "beta" and devour it!

Businesses all over the world have had to deal with high-risk and explosive growth. It really does not matter if it comes from within your organization or from a low-cost rival. Most of the firms have a low-risk/low-cost model and phase their activities through incremental changes and work their way up. Then they start gaining critical mass and having reached an inflection point, moving into a more aggressive mode. Almost killer-mode, you would say. Take an example of parallels, they started out small and deceptively went on to whack the apple market with their product. It came out and we all didn't notice. It made products like desktop virtualization for Win/Lin and who would have thunk it that VMware would have had to come out to pick on this "little guy". Sure you would say Apple has a relatively small market share but look around yourself. You just can't deny the fact the Apple is coming up like a big tsunami. iPhone is and can really change the desktop market (again it is pretty deceptive move. Very low key but sooner or later you'd be wondering why the heck you were sitting behind that desk all your life), and I'm pretty much sure of the Gaming too. Anyways coming back to the topic of creating solid, explosive and exceptional business growth, we will just go down this article/blog post and try to examine the virtualization arena.

Yet again we'll pick VMware as in totality of its products , I still believe they are leading on innovation and providing technologies that are relevant to the current business needs of the community. I will try to work around the great tips that "Rita Gunther/Ian MacMillan" gave in their book. We will try to drill down to the details and see what VMware can do to kick back in action. I say kick back as I think they still have some great talent up their sleeve and a massive potential to pull it off (yet again!).

VMware started off as a little firm seeking investors (like our Avastu today), they broke out of the mainstream when they did the "running an OS within an OS". Who would have thought thought about it! I among the others were so excited about it. (I still remember that I had a DELL Latitude with NT on it and had a Redhat 8 with Oracle 8i running on it. It was such a cool feeling) "A Linux company", screamed the media. Today they have a suite of products that is built around with massive support for almost all industry leaders in hardware and software. Today they are on top of the things and obviously also prey to the low-cost rivals who are waiting in the alley. (I'm sorry, next time I'll use another term, it's not like everyone is waiting in the alley OR like alley is the place for some slick and slew rivals to toil and sweat till they can finally get out and show their stuff)

There has got to be a way to better our business!

Sure there is and there are a lot of them. But first lets take a look at what you have in your hands. You current intellectual property and what can you really do about it.
Lets look at some of those tips/advices.

  1. Change your offerings (and game plan)
  2. Reinvent/redesign your existing game/offerings
  3. Do a "Gordon Ramsey" but without the F- word (meaning quietly)
  4. Do the "Jamie Oliver" more aggressively (Use the F- word to F- friendly folks)
  5. Improve your cash flow dramatically
  6. Improve your customers cash-flow dramatically
  7. Improve your productivity by improving on the customers productivity
  8. Benchmark yours and your rivals products
  9. Run rivals marketbusting techniques in your isolated labs
  10. Market and communicate vigorously
  11. Improve your asset utilization
  12. Do the Hannibal and the Gandhi to implement the OFCM (Optimal Flexible Change Model) (E- and O Theory within your business units)



I'll try to keep it short and make a different version on a PDF.



1. Change the name of the game: As a little kid (and even now actually) I have always wondered what will happen when we are done consuming here on this planet. Where should we go? How are we going to get there? Well the same applies to firms (established and startups alike). The move of VMware to unleash the VMware Server to go out and fight the other offerings was a pretty smart one. We have spoken about it at large in our other articles. Now without going crazy all over the place you can still do a good job if you differentiate the strategy per geographical units. I would say if you don’t want to go below the price then offer your free VMware Server with a yearly support and a free VMware Console. This is perfect for a small client/ISV who does not need to hire or rent. Looking at countries like China, India, S. America, the infrastructure is pretty lagging. It will take quite some time before the economies will pull up and when the mushrooming firms will start growing. Think of the smooth and slow transition into the solution model. Look at Google, they have everything for free and still the model is amazingly refreshing and generating cash (don't forget you are there to make money for yoursel and your families). Reinvent the business model and innovate on it continuously. Who says that in the coming future software industry is going to be the way it is today? Who says that future IT will be the IT that we see today? Who says that we won't treat IT like gas, water and electricity. Commoditization is forcing a lot of major firms to rethink and reconfigure their business model. In the coming years we will see firms getting out of this transitive mode and emerging as totally different providers. Look at Apple, its not Apple Computers Inc anymore but just Apple Inc. The game plan is already changing! They are into the telecom, OS, computers but as you see the underlying platforms/hardware is irrelevant. and when I say that I must say that VMware has the leading position (and also as a market leader) in this game and can transform their strategy to get into the next plane. Think of changing your game plan as a urgent need for survival, like designing a spaceship and planning to move over to a different planet or even a different solar system!

2. Reinvent/Redesign: The next is a pretty cool idea too. Its not just sales and marketing (although these are extremely important) but also on your products/offerings strategy. Think and compare Europe vs Africa or Asia. The kind of infrastructure we have here is nothing compared to that of these countries. But they are growing rapidly. As an example, after talking to a few telecom firms I got to know that they are busy laying fiber across Uganda all the way via Kenya and then into the sea. This will dramatically increase the bandwidths. The advent of WiMAX is also being noticed and pretty soon the technology is going to be commoditized there. OK I know , analysts will say that pretty soon is not possible. Here too the product strategy could be differentiated through innovating products for mature client segments Vs developing/upcoming client segments.

As an example: VMware converter is a good example of redesign (It combined both Importer as well as P2V all-in-one) . This could mean that a CIO could have the power and the authority to run a TCO/ROI online (running couple of inbuilt tests against its server monitoring tools OR VMware provided tools) – this he would have been doing for quite sometime , then supplying details of certain chosen machines converting the machines online and then provisioning them to their newly built remote site.

3. Do the Gordon Ramsey: Call it a Vertical/Zigzag penetration. I really love this guy. What he does is very thought provoking. Customers are not exposed to the real realities , exposing them to the realities by showing them the dangers and pulling them out of the trance is sometimes needed (with or without the F- word is something for you to judge) but you get my point, its getting the message across. But anyways I really don’t think that he really means it. A healthy arrogance is never a problem. Send these dawgs (dogs) and tell them to tell the world about how you deploy new and cool solutions to your customers. Do remember that you have a cool product which also does a great job at it. Don’t be shy to let one of those blokes out and blow the trumpet!

4. Do the Jamie Oliver: Actually this is exactly the opposite of the above example. And here I mean the horizontal penetration into the market segment via the CSR model. Jamie goes on the roads and has tremendously helped the schools in UK to start thinking before just cooking (actually they barely cooked, they just fried up ready made stuff in oil). Call the above two measures (Gordon and Jamie) the awareness campaigns. But these go a lot further than just awareness campaigns, they force your existing customers to think and help the new customer/consumer segment to position themselves or even prepare themselves for bad sloppy food. Get into TV, get into entertainment. Do the TV, get the folks to see your products doing good things. The community is doing it for you but you too ought to get out and talk about several things. A live demo and sneak peek into current running projects would be great.

5. Improve your cash flow momentum dramatically. Working faster and quicker will astonish the competition and will send them packing. If you’re bringing in major releases of ESX , just start doing the nightly builds and hot fixes way. No need to think up some massive strategy for you think of developing yet another migration tool for such operations. Play with the money and keep executing the little new strategies. Don’t think up big strategies, think of deployability in terms of weeks not months. Quick and speedy installations, migrations, backups and deployments will enhance the productivity of your client/customer.

6. Improve your customers cash flow/productivity (Not every customer is motivated around money but I mean cash as a metaphor here) Like above if your products sync and bring all loosely coupled components like Network, OS, Apps, Hardware all together, bring them tightly together and continue to make the integration tighter and develop our products to be “intelligent” to sense and gauge the available infrastructure to do a optimal “hyper-compression provisioning” of the resources.

Think of a simple example: A typical Oracle RAC Virtual Farm hosted on a ESX 4.0 Virtual Global Delivery Farm (with HQ in India). With increasing internet speeds and WiMAX around the bend and HSDPA making mobile devices only more "real-time connected", we will have a model like this. VMware has a definitive market lead and can surely play the role of a market leader by getting off with this GDM.

Bottom line is that the client really gets to notice the changes in his environment and can extract maximum productivity out of its resources without having to shut down its business or services temporarily. They will enormously appreciate the benefits. You can show a CIO about how it will dramatically affect their environments, trust me they will be compelled to take the decision in your favor.

7. Envision and put a Collective Productivity Model in place. Your productivity is dependent on your customers productivity. A productive and a successful client has a very successful solutions provider behind him. Stay in the background and do it vigorously, rapaciously and yet quietly. Here productivity of a client could be show cased to new customers by letting them in to this highly configurable productivity way of life!

8. Metrics are essential: And Benchmark is the best way to gauge your progress against others. VMmark is moving in the right direction. There are enough vendors who have a lot to sell, but ask yourself these questions: do their products perform as well as ours? Can we take their product on a test drive and run it against our products? Can we learn something from them? Key metrics are very essential.

9. Bust the competition with his own dust!: The competitor has equally provoking marketbusting tricks up its sleeve. Use it (like aikido) to dethrone them from their platform without losing on your own steam. VMware has taken a couple of counter measures and I am pretty sure they will do that in the coming months as well. Think in terms of pricing, solutions offerings, more free and support products. These are the best ways to keep the lead and still be the final winner in the game.

10. Marketing and Communication: TV, News, Blogger Interviews (Go get Bloggers involved and/or have your own entrepreneurial employees start lashing back at the competition), Charity, CSR just about anything and anywhere. There are better ways of telling your customers and consumers of the great product that you have. And there are so many ways to do that. Every little bit helps.

11. Improving on Asset Utilization : Well I'm sure this is spoken enough in boardrooms. But lets get on to doing it effectively!

12. Cross breed between Hannibal (E-champion) and Gandhi (O- Mahatma): Having an amalgam of E- and O theories is a very cocky mixture to start with BUT it is a sure shot way to make solid decisions about the firm. Both the Economy and Organizational driven models need to be mixed and matched in order to drive the forces to develop and work on that “balancing act”. We need both, that’s for sure. Good leadership plays a very crucial role.

So these a a few of the marketbusting techniques that I think will help a firm kick back and stay in the lead for a long time. There is no crystal ball and you know why? Because the future you want to see is the one you keep thinking and dreaming of, so in a way you are already seeing it!

Good luck!

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