Eighty-five percent of data centers utilize virtualization management, according to a recent InformationWeek survey. A majority of these facilities (53%) have deployed a VMware virtualization product. Estimates of VMware’s share of the overall virtualization market range from slightly over 50% to 80%. Because cloud computing depends on virtualization, one could argue that 50-80% of the cloud computing also relies on VMware. But despite the company’s Windows-like market domination of an increasingly widespread and instrumental technology, VMware remains a little-known and seldom-discussed organization to most of the general public.
VMware was founded in 1998. Its first product was the VMware Workstation, a desktop virtualization program that allowed users to run additional operating systems from within Windows or Linux. In 2001 the company introduced its flagship ESX server virtualization product, which allowed data center managers to divide individual physical servers into multiple computing environments (virtual servers). Previously, a single physical server could only support a single application or process. Gartner estimates that, as a result, non-virtualized servers only utilize 10% of their total computing capacity. But with the multiple computing environments of VMware ESX, servers have the ability to exhaust 100% of their capacity. VMware’s program also permits multi-tenancy—the ability of separate users to share a server without sacrificing performance, security, or privacy.
EMC acquired VMware for $625 million in 2004, giving it a certain amount of leeway and independence before ousting the VMware founder and CEO Diane Greene in 2008. According to this article from InformationWeek’s Charles Babcock, experts had begun predicting the failure of the company towards the end of Greene’s tenure due to intense competition from Microsoft. Babcock credits the company’s turnaround with the subsequent hiring of EMC’s head of Cloud Computing, Paul Maritz, whom he says appreciated the reciprocal and long-term relationships involved with data center technology: “Maritz instinctively understood the trust that CIOs were investing in VMware. As long as VMware drew an ambitious road map, told customers what it would bring to their data centers via virtualization, and delivered, CIOs would continue to look to VMware for their future data center software…Companies would be reluctant to rip out their VMware deployments that were installed and working in their data centers.” Maritz expanded VMware from a $1.3 billion middling company to a $4.6 billion industry mainstay.
On July 16 of this year, EMC promoted Maritz to Chief Strategist and named EMC President Pat Gelsinger the new VMware CEO. This article (also by Mr. Babcock) interprets the switch as a step in the evolution towards a “software-defined data center,” which can be described as “a data center that can be organized more flexibly, with resources commissioned, reconfigured, or decommissioned through a software management layer. Administrators are able to make changes in such a data center continuously without disrupting users.” VMware’s commitment to innovation and its critical role in creating the fully-integrated software-managed data centers of the future were further reinforced by its $1.26 billion acquisition of the network virtualization company Nicira on July 24.
The resource-distributing, server-maximizing, and multi-tenant features of the VMware ESX hypervisor make it an integral part of most cloud computing services, including many of the private clouds of IronOrbit. Specifically, we utilize the lightweight ESXi hypervisor, whose small footprint limits its “attack surface” and significantly reduces the likelihood of a security breach. IronOrbit employs industry-best technologies (such as ESXi) and maintains partnerships with industry-leading IT vendors and developers (such as VMware) in order to continually provide our customers with the most secure, reliable, and powerful private clouds.