Here's How VMware Will Own The Next Wave In IT

Mathew Lodge VMwareMathew Lodge VMware

Photo: VMware

If you haven’t given much thought to IT software company VMware it really is time to start.More than any other company founded in the late 1990’s, VMware has changed everything about enterprise data centres. Nearly every enterprise on the planet uses it (it has 350,000 customers). And it’s not done yet.

Although VMware is a public company, most of its shares are owned by storage giant EMC. However, VMware is arguably the most important asset EMC has. So much so that its CEO, Paul Maritz will become EMC’s chief strategist on September 1 while EMC’s COO Pat Gelsinger will become the CEO of VMware. The move is seen as a step up for both of them with Maritz becoming heir to the EMC CEO throne.

We got VMware vice president of Cloud Services, Mathew Lodge, on the phone this week — to talk about it all. He explained how …

  • The company’s huge $1.26 billion purchase of 100-person startup Nicira showed off VMware’s ambitions. It wants to own software that powers the cloud and also disrupt the network industry.
  • That acquisition is another step in a journey that began in earnest about a year ago. That’s when VMware started a program to get service providers to use its cloud software, vCloud.
  • vCloud is a cloud operating system that competes with Amazon AWS, open source projects OpenStack (Championed by Rackspace and HP) and CloudStack (championed by Citrix) — and a few others, including Microsoft’s Azure, Red Hat’s CloudForms and startup Piston Computing

BI: At a high level, what exactly is VMware is doing with cloud computing?

There is no shortage of companies that can get you to the cloud as long as you forget everything you already have. You built an application for Amazon web services for example. It can’t run anywhere else and that sort of boxed organisations into technical decisions and a path and that doesn’t give them the flexibility. We felt that making the choice of the cloud should not be a technical decision. It should be a business decision

We announced the vCloud service provider program last year and in February of last year and we started to onboard the first partners in the second quarter of last year. Today in the service provider space we have over 140 clouds built on vCloud in 26 countries where we had zero this time last year.

BI: VMware already had its own software technology similar to what Nicira does — software defined networking. How is Nicira’s tech going to fit into vCloud?

ML: We bought Nicira because we believe that software defined networking is the future of how networking is going to be done. What Nicira lets us do is accelerate that process, so we have hired a world-class team in Nicira, roughly 100 folks [joining] our organisation and that is going to let us accelerate that.

BI:  rumour has it that VMware will stop Nicira from participating in the OpenStack project. That true?

ML: No, that is not the plan. The Nicira team leads the Quantum project in OpenStack, which is the network component for OpenStack and that will continue. You will hear more from us on what are plans are for continuing to support OpenStack networking. But we have no plans to abandon that or change that direction.

BI:  Who do you consider your biggest competitor? Amazon?

ML:  We don’t have our own cloud infrastructure service. So, our service providers compete with AWS. In terms of the software stack, OpenStack and Cloud Stack from Citrix and then there is the various different cloud orchestrations platforms from the likes of CA and BMC and HP and, of course, Microsoft.

BI: You guys just got a new CEO? What does that mean for the company?

ML: I am very excited, personally. Paul has been great and he has really laid a very solid foundation and Pat is just an incredibly seasoned executive with amazing accomplishments in the industry. I feel incredibly honored that we have been able to get someone of the calibre of Pat to run the VMware. At the same time, we don’t lose Paul. He is still involved. He still has an office here in Palo Alto. He is helping us out with strategy around new applications and where that market place is going. We get the best of both worlds.

[Editors note: Both executives were named to our list of The 50 Most Powerful People In Enterprise Tech]

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