VMware is now officially 20+ years old…. Wow, that’s older than many of my students! In a March 2018 press release, VMware publicized that it had attained more than 500,000 customers and 75,000 partners as well as generated over 7.9 billion in revenue to date. So, let’s make a toast “Here’s to VMware for being a leader the last 20 years and still growing in today’s rapidly changing, cloud-based environment.”
But what does the future look like? In this article I would like to celebrate VMware’s accomplishments and then in later articles we can look ahead to see how the company is Hyperconverging into the future…
It was back in 1998 when a few enterprising individuals lead by Dianne Greene (President and CEO), formed VMware. In 1999, VMware’s first virtualization software product, VMware Workstation, began to revolutionize the desktop by bringing virtualization into the Intel x86 world. VMware Workstation (now in its 15th release) is still an important product today and one of the only workstation virtualization products that still has a purchased license agreement.
In 2001 the company made the leap into data center virtualization with the release of its ESX hypervisor. ESX was a type-1 (bare metal) hypervisor based on the Linux kernel. Because ESX runs directly on the computer hardware and has its own specialized file storage system, the ESX hypervisors are much more efficient at running virtual servers in the data center than VMware Workstation.
In 2004, VMware was acquired by the EMC (Egan, Marino, and Curly) corporation, and during the first decade of the new century, VMware and EMC were very successful at leveraging their products to gain the lion’s share of the workstation and data center virtualization market. According to Gary Chen, software research manager at International Data Corp, “VMware was an innovator, their ESX product saved IT lots of money and made data center technicians’ lives a lot easier, so it is still the foundation for many enterprise data centers today.”
Despite VMware’s financial success it was not immune to the financial problems of 2008. During this difficult time president and co-founder Diane Greene was replaced by Paul Maritz, a retired 14-year Microsoft veteran who was heading EMC's cloud computing business unit. The good news is that Paul brought a new cloud based perspective into VMware products and in 2009 VMware released vSphere 4.0 which contains an enhanced suite of tools for cloud computing. With vSphere, the ESX hypervisor was upgraded and renamed to ESXi (ESX integrated) and the GUI was replaced with a Web based console. The vSphere suite also included a vCenter Server component that allowed multiple ESXi hosts to be managed from a single console. vCenter server’s enhanced virtualization features included clustering, high availability, load balancing, and virtual machine migration (vMotion) services. During this time period VMware also introduced several other products including Horizon for the burgeoning Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) market. Our current textbook, Hands-on Virtual Computing, provides students with hands on experience using all these VMware data center virtualization products.
In the last several years changes have taken place at what seems near lightspeed. In the past VMware’s emphasis has been the on-premise data center, but to survive in the future they will need to reach for the clouds. A recent study by Forrester consulting shows that IT organizations are investing in cloud technologies to reduce costs and achieve their operational goals (see chart below).
In the past few years, VMware has been making major strides toward cloud computing through such products as vRealize to manage private cloud services, vCloud Director to connect private vSphere data centers to the public cloud, and Cloud Foundry which uses Linux Container technology for application mobility between computing environments.
Based on their success with Linux Container technology, in 2012 VMware/EMC spun off Pivotal Software, which was at the forefront of the container development. Paul Maritz became CEO of the new Pivotal Software company and Pat Gelsinger, also formally a CEO at EMC, was appointed VMware CEO in place of Paul. During his tenure, Pat has continued to move VMware into the public cloud environment and in 2013 VMware launched vCloud Air as their IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) cloud offering. Given a rather lackluster acceptance, in 2017 VMware sold vCloud Air to OVH, a French cloud supplier. Since that time VMware has been working with AWS (Amazon Web Services) and IBM to leverage their vSphere technology onto these popular public cloud platforms.
In 2016 EMC and VMware were acquired by Dell Inc. Since the acquisition VMware has made major strides in the Public and Hybrid cloud environments coming out with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud on IBM, VMware Cloud Foundation, and VMware Cross Cloud Architecture to name a few. To add even more excitement, VMware and Pivotal Software have recently come back together, and at VMworld 2017 they unveiled Pivotal Container Service (PKS). PKS enables organizations to use the popular open source Kubernetes system for deployment, scaling, and management of container-based applications.
In summary, as I raise my toast to the success VMware has had over the last 20 years in virtualizing the on-premises data center, I also realize that a technology company cannot sit back and enjoy their success for long, they must keep moving. The good news is that VMware is on the move and they are making some exciting progress toward building new cloud-based solutions. In my next posts we will look at some of the exciting new VMware products and how they may impact data center administrators as well as the VMware company. I also want to show you how we at Cengage can help you keep current on these new technologies as they develop.
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