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Open Source: VMware has it all wrong?!

This (check link below) is an eye opener (both for VMware and the community). People often relate to this blog as a VMware blog but I think its time to open up and talk about some real things here. So I'll play the devil's advocate for a while here.

VMware may very well be looking like what Microsoft was in the 90s. We all loved Microsoft for what it could do. We got the GUI! Wasn't that cool? VMware is today's hero when it comes to providing us with a "next level" stuff.

Ask yourself these serious questions, and no they are not based on my reading of Tom's book "World is flat" on that Flattener #2 netscape analogy, although there is a question that may make you think what VMware can do to avoid the downfall :

  • What is it really that VMware actually does for you besides jamming in loads of files into a physical server?
  • What is it that VMware does for you that an Open Source virtualization can't?
Now the idea is not to scare you as a client about what VMware is doing or where it's going. The whole idea is to look at the future. Investing not in the future may be a "big mistake", as Arnold Schwarzenegger would say. Some areas where I think VMware can look at, are:
  • Proprietary Danger Zone: Netscape went down not (only) because Microsoft went a bit monopolistic but because it could not contain its massive growth, and they went down because they banked a lot on the proprietary nature, IMHO. What is the chance that VMware next year may just be at crossroads when some smart-ass firm, does not have to be Microsoft, comes up with a yet faster means of "converting" back your data center by doing "intelligent discovery and online hot conversion" to its format, relinquishing the client totally of the licensing and support by making the "software and licensing management tool" to arrange all that to be taken care of "automatically" and reporting to the C-level folks with a message on their big TFT screens in the board rooms: "Your data center has been converted and as of 12 Aug 2008 your licensing contracts ends with VMware. Thank you for choosing XYZ Data Center Transition Inc". The value-add lies not in the Data Center but somewhere in between!
  • Open Source Initiative: So if VMware would have gone a path of having some open source customers, who move according to their own business speed and use the easy2use and subscription based "pas-as-you-go" models, it will still have some clients left. We are moving towards an open world, believe it or not but the bets have already been placed. I was talking to Matt, the developer of the openQRM, the open source data center management tool. I asked: "How on earth are you ever going to make (loads of) money?" and before he could answer I was seeing it myself, I had asked the wrong question! We are moving towards a totally different world, while firms like IBM, who has and is learning its hard lesson the hard way, et al are trying hard to work on Storage Management with Aperi, Vyatta folks are working their asses off to make a great and yet simple easy to deploy tool, proprietary closed source folks like Microsoft, Cisco, VMware etc may just be sitting ducks! If you look into the future with me, the world would look like this in the new age of "Make-Tear-Remake-LOB": You need to start your business of "Real-Time Voice Translation Services", you have a small clientele since you are working on a big project for a European-Indian-Chinese operation. The team is of 30 people divided in a pool of 10 developers, 10 Managers, 2 Independent Consultancy firms, 5 VPs and 3 C-level people. This can all be arranged with several options from several parties. So it is not really a very high performing stuff, fortunately you have some independent consultants who are guarding it like "ferocious watch dogs" to monitor the "procurement activities". A tight situation means: we don't have loads of money to spend! A good and robust solution with Vyatta, Aperi, openQRM and other components will help you get that open source SaaS option faster, cheaper and high performing like you need it. After you are done, you can tear down that subset of your data center like it never happened. You need it again, you can build it as you move.
  • Microsoft's Interop Initiative: Microsoft is going parallel to its 2nd mover's advantage but creating a stage for just this operation. It is opening its Interop shops all over the world, it has a strategy and it is..Interoperability! The guy who is standing somewhere in between and , OMG, its Microsoft! But seriously Microsoft knows very well that it needs that open source component very bad. It is a greatest position for Microsoft to be in. Before VMware will attempt to make Microsoft's OS irrelevant, Microsoft is going to do that itself! So do you think that Microsoft won't build its Appliance Market place by 2008? And with that huge community, it'll take just those little awards and you'll have it all "Microsoft Certified Appliances" in no time, no charge for OS or App, just the SaaS charges, that's it!
I think open source has more value-add that just making loads of money. Its time to make some real hard earned money this time. I look forward to live my life more like my friend, Matt, who in my opinion lives in the future ( by working from home, influencing the technology and applying it effectively) the way we all will actually be working someday!

I was tempted to write about it by this CNet's post by Matt Asay:

Wow. I guess for those who have yet to be forced to compete with open source, it's permissible to come out with grossly inaccurate comments about open source. Even Microsoft would never say something like this, which Diane Greene (VMware's CEO) said to The Register:

There is still a lot of innovation going into our hypervisor. As long as there is a lot of innovation going in, (open source) is not the right model.

What we want to do is fund ourselves to be able to build new stuff. If you're purely open source, there is no way you can do new stuff. That is completely false. It's not even a little, teensie weensie bit true. In fact, it's when one is in the midst of innovation that open source makes the most sense. Ms. Greene seems to be suggesting that open source makes sense when you're ready to put code out to pasture because it has passed its prime. Quite the opposite is true, if you're hoping to derive value from community, which is the whole point of open sourcing code.

Community-influenced innovation.

Funny, reminds me (reading about) of the great talent of William Shockley and the fall, which eventually lead to the "real" innovation when Intel and AMD were born. Innovation is really a funny thing, you really have to understand what makes it happen, how it happens and when. Consumerism, Aspirational Computing, Social awareness etc is making it happen and Open Source innovation is the one that can satisfy that need today, but when is the really big question.

It happened in the past when you were on top of it, it happens today and catches you totally unaware. Are we seeing real innovation today? Are we bounded by our "bounded awareness"?
For now, read this post...
Check out the rest at c|net!


  1. *****
    Before VMware will attempt to make Microsoft's OS irrelevant, Microsoft is going to do that itself!
    can you please elaborate a bit more on how VMWare can make MS OS irrelevent??

    my understanding is that VMware makes you run multiple machines on a single hardware.

    but you are still going to run windows, if you were using windows in the past.

    are you saying people will switch to a different OS in future??

    but how will they run MS-exhange or SQL server or IIS etc

  2. Ramu,

    Virtualization as a whole is fast approaching trends that will make OS take a backseat. Trends such as SaaS (Software as a service) where you rent software (Eg. on a monthly basis. Companies will in the same way rent Virtual Machines, call it VaaS, VM as a service, or more simply said, Virtual Appliances as a service.

    When Virtual appliances come in place, then you are looking at a totally packaged solution that is fulyl ready to eb deployed such as an Exchange Appliance or a Network Appliance such as Vyatta router or a Database Appliance like Mysql.

    so that way, you don't have to bother about installing Applications on top of an OS, whatever that it may be.

    When I say OS gets irrelevant does not mean that it becomes obsolete since applications are built/developed on top of the OSs. The only difference will be that the delivery and maintenance of such appliances will be more like "pressing the button and you can reset it to last know good situation".

    Hope that helps.



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