You have to give Paul Maritz props for chutzpah.
Long before VMworld opened this week it was clear Maritz would have to do more than just lead the faithful in cheers for the benefits of virtualization in general and VMware's take on it in particular.
In the months before VMware's Big Event Microsoft managed to turn itself from an erstwhile competitor into the real thing and the economy turned sharply south, putting even more pressure on a company that holds the technological and market-share lead in virtualization, but whose prices suddenly look like an unreasonable premium compared to Microsoft's deliberately lowball costs.
Oh, and Maritz fired VMware founder and CEO Diane Green, putting himself in the position of having to redefine the company and its strategy himself, an effort that might actually be helped by the crowd of top-level execs who followed green (willingly or not) out the door.
I figured VMware would have to go upscale, pitching itself as the uber-manager of all virtualization technology in a data center and the focus of IT services that go far beyond virtualization, probably in concert with parent company EMC, whose strengths in data-center management and storage could complement VMware's.
Readers dinged me for that, pointing out quite accurately that if VMware were to align itself too closely with EMC it risked losing the partnership of IBM, HP and other hardware vendor/service providers who compete more directly with VMware's parent company than with VMware. In that they were probably right.
Maritz passed us both by, though, by declaring not only that VMware would continue as the high-end virtualization vendor of choice, but that the entire IT ecosystem was evolving past its dependence on the operating system into a kind of mesh world in which applications, data, servers and security are all handled behind the scenes and IT departments would have godlike powers of integration and management based on cloud computing, virtualization and a firm reliance on VMware management technology.
That's a bold claim no matter how often it's been made (by Novell, IBM, Microsoft, HP and others, under various buzzwords and in various guises over the years). Microsoft, in fact, is making the same claim again (though its recent PR-fest was, if anything, less credible than VMware's).
VMware will replace the current patchwork of desktop, handheld and server operating systems-not to mention the variety of management, integration, DR and backup software that keeps most current data centers running- with the Virtual Data Center Operating System.
The VDC OS will function as a kind of internal-cloud computing model, Maritz says, allowing users to access data from anywhere, with anything, and virtualizing applications, data, hardware, software, storage and, presumably, the vast supplies of coffee and pizza consumed by the army of IT people trying to make a VDC OS function.