VMworld Draws Out the Daggers


As the market leader, VMware can be excused for mounting its own trade show every now and again, although it may start to rethink that strategy considering it tends to draw out the knives from the rest of the industry.

It's no coincidence that Citrix, Red Hat, Microsoft and others all announced VMware-beating technology this week, during VMworld Europe. What better way to steal the thunder from the inevitable product introductions from both VMware and its growing legion of third-party supporters? It's classic counter-marketing strategy.

To recap: The week kicked off with the announcement from Red Hat that it was coming out with its own hypervisor called Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. The software would include versions of the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) OS for both servers and desktops and would be based largely on technology acquired from Qumranet last year that uses a kernel-based virtual machine (KVM) that was bred for high performance and high stability.

While the system shifts Red Hat away from the Xen-based hypervisor developed by Citrix Systems, which is closely tied to Microsoft's Hyper-V hypervisor, Windows users will still have a means to tap into virtual Linux environments by virtue of an interoperability agreement that allows both companies to launch virtual servers within the other's host environment.

And speaking of Citrix, the company took a bold step this week in announcing that its XenServer system will be available free of charge, shifting the revenue stream to adjacent technologies such as the new Citrix Essentials management system and StorageLink networking software. It's a similar move to VMware's decision last fall to start issuing free versions of the ESX system, albeit with more advanced features that include virtual machine motion, resource pooling and multinode management.

Not everyone is ganging up on VMware, however. Novell just entered a collaboration deal that has VMware using its VMware Studio to let ISVs design virtual appliances for SuSE Linux Enterprise. The idea is to develop a single turnkey system that can be easily configured on the ESX platform that lets providers deliver all manner of advanced enterprise features over the cloud. The pair has already received backing from Zmanda, which plans to develop backup devices using VMware's Virtual Appliance Marketplace.

Having your own trade show is a great way to focus customers' and potential customers' attention on what you're all about and where you plan to take your platform, ideally so deployments and integration can follow a roughly orderly course to a more effective and efficient environment.

Unfortunately, they also have a way of focusing your competitors' desire to disrupt your plans.