VMware Needs to Take Open Source Virtualization Seriously

by Sam Dean - Aug. 05, 2011Comments (1)

If you follow VMware, you may have also followed the recent brouhaha over its release of vSphere 5, its virtualization and cloud computing suite. Specifically, VMware sought to institute a licensing model based on VRAM usage and the number of virtual machines used by an enterprise or organization, rather than a model based on the number of CPUs. Some sites dubbed it "the VMware tax." VMware has since made changes to the licensing model, as detailed by Savio Rodrigues here. Despite the changes, Rodrigues correctly notes that VMware's actions leave the door wide open for deployment of open source hypervisors that can mean big cost savings and flexibility.

In early July of 2008, I said the following, in a post titled "Open Source and the Fall of VMware":

 "VMware is not a one-product company, but its huge market capitalization was largely built on efforts in one arena: virtualization. Unfortunately, that red hot technology is increasingly being encroached on by open source offerings, and it is always a precarious proposition for tech companies to depend on one product category as heavily as VMware has. Just ask the former employees of Netscape or Lotus about that."

VMware is still encroached on by open source virtualization offerings, but I admit that the company has done a good job of making the case to key enterprise customers that virtualization is a tough nut to crack, and that support and experience from VMware count for something. It has also embraced many open source technologies, and launched its Cloud Foundry effort. However, its latest move to increase licensing fees for the vSphere suite is exactly the wrong direction to go in.

As Savio Rodrigues writes:

"Although VMware backed off somewhat from its original fee structure, the new licensing may change in the future, after customers are heavily reliant on VMware for even their Tier 1 applications. So it's good to evaluate options, especially as open source hypervisors become more mature."

We recently completed a series of interviews with movers and shakers on the cloud and virtualization fronts, and they made very clear that open source virtualization is here to stay. VMware has to find a way to compete and grow without introducing steep licensing fee increases. Diversifying its core products and its business model would be a much wiser strategy, given all the open source competition, than simply raising fees.


Randy Clark uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Enterprises wanting a stable, easier to use and maintain virtualization platform will always end up on Vmware. Those organizations that can afford to have larger IT staffs and developers within their group may consider open source hypervisors, but if you are looking for the best platform you will end up on Vmware, the others just don't stack up.

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