There has been some talk recently about the possibility of VMware becoming the next Novell and fading away into obscurity due to Microsoft entering the virtualization arena. But has anyone noticed that Google is slowly invading many of Microsoft’s territories and doing it better than Microsoft at a cheaper price?
The recent announcement that Google is developing its own Google Chrome operating system to go along with the Google Chrome Web browser is a direct threat to Microsoft’s core business. Google is competing with more and more Microsoft products and most of its products are available to consumers for free. Google has email, a Web browser, documents, mapping, photo and drawing applications and much more. Will Google eventually topple Microsoft and beat them at Microsoft’s game, forcing Microsoft into obscurity as Microsoft has with companies like Novell and Netscape? Probably not anytime soon, but Microsoft’s reaction to this threat could determine its own fate — which brings us back to the possibility of VMware becoming the next Novell.
If VMware is smart and plays its cards right it can maintain its dominance in the virtualization arena. VMware is currently the market leader in virtualization and is in control of its own destiny, much like a football team that is ahead and has the ball. If the team keeps scoring it can win the game, but if it fumbles too many times it can lose.
History does not always repeat itself and smart companies learn from the mistakes of other companies, just like football coaches who watch tapes of previous games to learn as much as they can about their opponents. One advantage VMware has it that it has an ex-Microsoft executive at the helm who knows the inner-workings of Microsoft and how to compete against them.
Will VMware’s market share remain where it is at today? Probably not as Microsoft’s Hyper-V product matures and more companies adopt it. However there is no reason that there cannot be two dominate virtualization products similar to the way that Lotus Domino and Microsoft Exchange coexist today. VMware has a great product, it’s a very innovative company, it has very loyal customers and has the backing of a larger company (EMC). In my opinion here are some things VMware needs to do to ensure its continued success:
- Continue to innovate – VMware seems to have no problems doing this, vSphere is a great example. Microsoft lacks comparitive innovation and seems to be trying to duplicate VMware’s products.
- More marketing – you may have a great product but you need to go after customers and not wait for them to come to you, otherwise potential VMware customers may choose Microsoft’s product instead.
- Provide top quality customer service and support – this is critical, good service and support is what makes for happy, loyal customers, bad service and support leads to disgruntled customers who will go to your competition.
- Work on pricing – I know VMware is a business and needs to make money, but Microsoft keeps hammering VMware on this. VMware should get creative and try to make its pricing look more attractive to customers.
Only time will determine VMware’s fate. I believe it has a long and bright future ahead and will continue to be a major player in virtualization as long as VMware makes smart decisions and continues to produce great products.