VMware, the company that mainstreamed virtualization on commodity hardware in the enterprise, is in the midst of trying to transform itself into a cloud company—yes, a cloud company.
Part of the problem for the virtualization giant is market saturation. Companies bought into virtualization in a big way and VMware boasts over 500,000 customers today. In fact, IT found being able to make more efficient use of its server resources was something they wanted to do, but now just about every company has done it and VMware has been forced to look in new directions.
Helping to build hybrid cloud solutions
It's hard to believe that a 17 year old company is under disruptive pressure, but that's what's happening as companies turn to the cloud and other technologies. Virtualization is so 2010 apparently. Companies want to build hybrid cloud solutions and VMware wants to help.
In addition, customers are turning to containerization as startups like Docker are developing solutions for small, discrete, controllable application pieces. What's more, Mesosphere wants to move virtualization beyond the server level to the entire datacenter, providing a single pool of resources that enables IT administrators to use the entire set of resources more efficiently.
Against this aggressive competitive landscape, VMware cannot afford to simply sit still. It needs to provide some sort of market response and that appears to be embracing what the competitors are offering including containerization and hybrid cloud computing, all of which is designed to work with VMware virtualized machines, of course.
In fact, you might not be aware of this, but VMware offers its own Infrastructure as a Service product called VMware vCloud Air, and it believes that as a trusted enterprise company, it has a leg up on AWS, Google, and Azure (although to be fair Microsoft is also a trusted enterprise company).
Standing out in the market
Yet for all their bravado, VMware faces the same uphill battle as everyone else trying to break AWS's stronghold on the cloud infrastructure market. In fact, if anything, it probably splinters the lower end of the market even more with IBM, Rackspace, and the telcos all trying to get a piece of this action. Now VMware has thrown its hat into the ring, and let's not forget that Alibaba also entered the market recently with oodles of money to throw at the problem.
Even though it's clearly a difficult space to break into, you can't expect VMware to simply sit still while the market passes it by. It needs to do something or it risks being left behind as the industry shifts and changes. These moves make sense in that context, but it doesn't mean it's going to be any easier for VMware, then it is for the myriad of other competitors out there.
VMware may have the enterprise credentials, but that doesn't guarantee it success by any means in a highly competitive market. It needs to step up like everyone else and make its pitch and hope for the best.
It's not going to be easy.