VMware's Next Move

By Amy Newman (Send Email)
Posted Aug 19, 2009

Typically, when the calendar page flips to August, languid summer days lead to slower news cycle. With VMworld coming at the close of the month, VMware is taking advantage of the non-obvious lull and keeping wheels spinning fast and furious.

Virtually Speaking: As VMworld '09 comes closer, VMware annouces its intent to acquire two companies for the price of one, raising some questions about its latest directional shift.

VMworld is VMware's time to strut its stuff. Last year, it used the opportunity to introduce vCloud. In February, at VMworld Europe, it unveiled vSphere.

In two weeks, when VMware and its projected thousands of customers, analysts and press will descend on the Moscone Center in San Francisco, it is sure to introduce if not a major strategy shift, then at least the next stop on its cloud journey.

No doubt its pending acquisition of SpringSource will play a major role. Last week, VMware revealed plans to spend close to $400 million to purchase the vendor behind the open source Spring Framework. Many Java middleware vendors, including Red Hat JBoss and IBM WebSphere, use Spring Framework. When the acquisition closes, it will be VMware's largest to date.

It will also, as many analysts noted, position VMware to expand its reach and moves it beyond the traditional virtualization realm. VMware will now have the skill sets to compete with the traditional middleware vendors as well as those established in the nascent cloud space.

Even more interesting, on Wednesday, a little more than a week after the SpringSource acquisition was announced, SpringSource revealed it had made a purchase of its own: It has acquired Cloud Foundry and relaunched as SpringSource Cloud Foundry.

Cloud Foundry is built on the open source Cloud Tools project. It is the user friendly face in front of SpringSource's solutions, helping facilitate the building, deployment and management of Java applications for cloud computing.

It will be interesting to see how Cloud Foundry integrates with Terremark, a company in which VMware invested a 5 percent stake this past spring.

It's clear that applications are prominent in VMware's future. This is a significant shift in focus, and perhaps that's where this year's Big Announcement will come from. However, one thing VMware has done little to address is where its partner ecosystem will reside. As it goes forward to fry bigger fish and shifts its focus from the virtual data center to where the virtual data center fits within the cloud, many of its traditional partners are on the ground. Will VMware continue to depend on them? Many them are not tightly tied to VMware, and either rely more on relationships with OEMs or are environment agnostic. Those that aren't will likely need to consider being so to succeed.

What these vendors have to say at VMworld will just as critical as what VMware offers up.

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