Since several months VMware started adopting a very untraditional marketing strategy.
In December 2005 the company released for free a stripped down version of their worldwide awarded Workstation product, called Player, able to run single virtual machine at a time on any Windows and Linux computer around.
In February 2006 they transformed one of their 2 enterprise products, GSX Server, in a free solution too, ready to be released free as in beer as soon as it gets out of beta with the name of Server. It will provide a hosted environment able to run several virtual machines at a time, blowing away any competition on the virtualization market.
This a la Google way of doing business climaxes today, when VMware launches the greatest challenge an Internet citizen could ever receive: the VMware Ultimate Virtual Appliance Challenge is a 3-months open challenge to everybody around able to create the most useful, creative and smallest virtual machine ever.
The company uses the Virtual Appliance term meaning an open source distribution (no matter if Linux, BSD or Solaris based) with a pre-installed application onboard, able to run within the VMware Player without further intervention.
Why an Internet citizen should get excited of this very glamorous way of doing viral marketing? Cause VMware is giving away 3 prized for a total amount of $200,000, half of them for the first prize.
And who will choose what is the most revolutionary virtual machine ever? A judging panel formed by very special members:
- Mendel Rosenblum (VMware Chief Scientist)
- Tim O’Reilly (O’Reilly Media Founder)
- Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu Linux Founder)
- Dave Parsons (ALG Software Vice President)
- Stephen Elliott (IDC Research Manager)
- Roger Howorth (IT Week Enterprise Editor)
- Jason Brooks (eWeek Senior Analyst)
These men will have the final word choosing winners (which will be announced 14th August) but will be influenced by the whole VMNT Forums community, called in action to try and comment submitted Virtual Appliances, in a massive committment to create and release something real impressive.