Maritz/Gelsinger – Virtualization and the Cloud Diverging?

So far we know this much for sure. Pat Gelsinger from EMC is going to replace Paul Maritz as CEO of VMware, and Paul Maritz is going to become Chief Strategist at EMC. It is also fairly likely that there is much that we do not know, and in fact it is likely that we cannot even firmly list thing things that we do not know (we do not know what we do not know (and you thought only the government had that problem)).

There have also been some other moves that have been speculated upon the press. It has been speculated by GigaOm that CloudFoundry, the Greenplum big data assets, and an IaaS offering named Project Rubicon may be spun out into a separate company. Now to connect the dots.

Leaders in Virtualization and Cloud Computing

Based upon actual accomplishments with actual customers here is the state of the world as it exists today:

  • VMware is the clear market leader in Data Center Virtualization, with the largest number of customers, the largest number of large customers, and the deepest penetration of virtualization in those customers of any vendor.
  • VMware vSphere has become a tremendous success because it brought the benefits of virtualization to existing data center workloads while providing excellent backwards compatibility with the software architecture supporting those workloads – allowing them to be virtualized without requiring changes to operating systems, middleware and applications.
  • Microsoft has made great progress with Hyper-V in SMB/SME accounts (particularly those that are 100% Windows), and is starting to eat VMware from below in some larger enterprise accounts.
  • Amazon AWS is the clear market leader in IaaS public cloud computing. But both Microsoft has recently announced impressive new IaaS features in Azure, and Google is rumored to be readying the Google Compute Cloud, its own IaaS offerings.

The Relationship between Virtualization and Cloud Computing

The relationship between on-premise data center virtualization, a server provider focused cloud partner program, and a vendor provided public cloud was explored in this post which outlined “Microsoft’s Three-Pronged Window Azure Strategy“, and the potential problems that it could create for Amazon and VMware. The issues revolve around the fact that both Amazon and Microsoft started with the public cloud as their design point. Microsoft looks to be extending Azure beyond just the public cloud into service provider clouds, and most likely also on premise clouds by adding Azure features to Windows Server 8 and Hyper V 3.0.

VMware on the other hand started with data center virtualization as its design point and has done a fantastic job with addressing this use case. The problems for VMware started when vSphere and its cloud computing derivative vCloud starting getting compared to public cloud computing platforms. These problems are rooted in the fact that the public cloud vendors all “started over” when they built their infrastructure, and made it highly modular an infinitely scalable. There is little that is modular and nothing that is infinitely scaleable about the typical enterprise data center.

This dichotomy is recognized in the press release from VMware which announced the most recent management changes, “Gelsinger said, “The next generation of software defined-datacenters will be built by combining software with standardized hardware building blocks. VMware is uniquely positioned to be the leader in this endeavor and deliver a whole new level of value to customers and its existing important ecosystem partners. For more than ten years I have interacted with the team at VMware and have developed a deep appreciation for the people and technology of this remarkable company. I am really excited about the mission and becoming part of the team.

Data Center Virtualization and the Cloud Diverging?

While it may have been VMware’s original vision for the standard for how things get virtualized to get set in the data center, and for this standard to influence what kind of clouds server providers set up, and for this standard to eventually overwhelm public cloud computing, the success of Amazon, the recent aggressive moves by Microsoft with IaaS Azure, and the forthcoming aggressive moves by Google with their Compute Cloud are going to get in the way.

Maritz at VMware clearly understood this, which was why CloudFoundry was developed. Both VMware and EMC clearly understood this, which was most likely why they started project Rubicon.  Therefore, where we most likely stand at this point is that from somewhere within EMC will come in some to be specified manner in the future, a completely separate service provider and public cloud offering. This has been leaked in the press as to consist of CloudFoundry, Rubicon, and Greenplum, but this has not been confirmed, and it is likely not the complete picture.

What we do know now then is this. Unless Microsoft takes over the world and gets Azure to be everywhere – on premise, at service providers and in its own cloud and becomes a high market share player in all three arenas, we are not going to see much in the way of standardization or cohesiveness between enterprise data center virtualization and public cloud computing. And this is probably a good thing. Enterprise data center virtualization has a set of requirements that need to be met and those are separate and distinct from the requirements of infinitely scaleable IaaS public cloud computing.

Who Is Going to Manage This Mess?

If these platforms are going to diverge in order to meet the needs of their respective use cases and users, it is going to raise a very important question. While they may be designed for different users and use cases, many enterprises will find that they have both sets of users and use cases in their companies. This will create the need for Cloud Management offerings that can elegantly manage both private clouds built on data center virtualization platforms like vSphere, and public cloud platforms like Amazon AWS.

This is where the Cloud Management ecosystem will come into play, and what might explain why VMware acquired DynamicOps when they did. DynamicOps along with enterprise competent cloud management offerings like RightScale, Cloupia, FluidOps, VirtuStream, and Clickqr represent the next generation of cloud management offerings – those that can deal with both multiple virtualization platforms, as well as managing workloads across private and public clouds.


These management changes at VMware most likely mean that VMware and EMC are in the process of increasing their focus on both data center virtualization and public cloud computing – by recognizing that virtualization and cloud computing are diverging. Having Paul Maritz as Chief Strategist at EMC means that his vision will continue to permeate both efforts, while their operational separation will mean that each can succeed without being encumbered by the other.