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VMware's hypervisor dominance the foundation to its success

VMware began as a small startup in 1998 with an idea for a commercial hypervisor to virtualize servers. The company now looks to build on its reputation by branching out into the end-user computing and cloud markets.

Since its inception, VMware has been a company on the move, trying to address the shifting demands of the business world.

Back in 1998, its five founding members developed a hypervisor for wide commercial use. At the time, running a single application required a dedicated server. Processors had grown so powerful that they were sitting idle much of the time, wasting electricity and space in the data center. VMware's hypervisor allowed multiple operating systems to run on a single server. This revolutionized the technological and economic landscape in the data center. As processing power increased, companies could consolidate further. VMware continued to refine its products and strengthen its position by releasing management tools through the vSphere platform.

Enterprises grew less fearful of putting their production workloads into a virtualized setting when premium features such as High Availability and Fault Tolerance arrived. With those security assurances, VMware became the de facto hypervisor vendor of choice.

Looking to capitalize on VMware's success, other companies have released their own hypervisors. Pressure has been mounting, most notably from Microsoft, for VMware to continue to innovate and improve vSphere's management tools.

But the arrival of cheap cloud computing and more abundant bandwidth has changed the corporate dynamic. The world has evolved from a server-centric data center to a more mobile one. Enterprises are demanding more flexibility, giving rise to self-service portals and transforming IT from a department to a service.

VMware addressed this changing model at VMworld 2012 with its vision of a software-defined data center. VMware wants to virtualize everything -- through its vSphere platform -- to be one-stop shopping for IT.

As part of this quest, the company has set out to reinvent itself and be all things to all companies, both by developing more advanced features and products through its army of engineers and by making key acquisitions. VMware is betting that its network virtualization and storage innovations, packaged in the EVO product line with hardware partners, will bring in new customers -- and solidify its relationship with its current base. In 2013, VMware launched its own cloud effort through vCloud Air for infrastructure-as-a-service needs and has been rolling out additional services, such as disaster recovery as a service, on a routine basis to meet market demands.

VMware is making bold moves to adapt and prosper in a world where the business demands are constant and voracious. Will the company survive the transition from servers to the cloud?

VMware's software-defined data center vision


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