Diane Greene is the president, CEO and co-founder of VMware, a pioneer of x86 server virtualization and one of the most innovative companies to hit the IT world in the past decade. Greene was in Boston last week with her VMware team, briefing analysts on new technologies that haven't been made public yet. She took some time out to speak with Network World's Jon Brodkin about a range of topics.
Microsoft is entering the market with Hyper-V. How are you preparing for that?
We've got our hypervisor, which is the world's best, the most reliable, the most secure, the most functional, the smallest footprint. Then we have this broad portfolio of 21 products that make this hypervisor powerful. We've been expecting competition for years. We got ready for it. We knew what they would do, they would come in and say 'the hypervisor is free.' And we have shifted our revenue, we have shifted our value to the software that makes that hypervisor so valuable.
VMware does charge a lot more than its competitors. Are you feeling any pressure to lower your prices?
We're the only company with a price point for every kind of use of virtualization starting with just the hypervisor. ESXi is available from our Web site for [US]$495. We have a free VMware Server that is very actively used, if you look at the discussion groups.
The portfolio of software for managing and automating the applications for running virtual machines, giving them quality of service, is where we increasingly charge, but that's completely separate from the base platform, the hypervisor layer.
What really differentiates the VMware hypervisor from Microsoft and Xen server virtualization software?
VMware's hypervisor is incredibly robust. We have a [big pharmaceuticals] customer that has run one with no reboots for over four years. No restarts. It's the only hypervisor that has no dependence on an operating system. It can be much more secure because a hypervisor is only as secure as its weakest link. We have this architecture that can be embedded in the hardware with this small, very secure footprint [under 32MB]. And the functionality our hypervisor supports, such as memory overcommit and so forth is the broadest. Not to mention that it's in use in production by over 100,000 customers.
IBM virtualized the mainframe several decades ago. How is VMware's technology modeled after mainframe virtualization?
VMware was founded with the notion that if you revisited this concept of virtualization that IBM had done and modernized it, and brought it to industry-standard systems, that where hardware had come in terms of fast CPUs, and cheap memory and cheap disk and networking support was going to make it phenomenally valuable. We had taken it to a much broader applicability than was originally done on the mainframe, but the concept of virtualization and a lot of the value proposition that IBM saw in the late '60s hasn't changed at all.
There were some rumors about EMC selling VMware, which seem to have fizzled out. How much attention do you pay to that kind of thing?
As CEO of VMware my job is to keep the company executing and fulfilling our potential, and that's really what I focus on and lead the company to focus on.