No, VMware doesn’t really want to compete with Google, but with what Google represents today: a major vendor that believes in a web-centric IT.
At this point of its history, the VMware ambition goes well beyond leading the virtualization space.
VMware wants to be the mandatory platform that customers need to offer and consume business services. Something that is not just what the industry calls today cloud computing.
VMware wants to be inside the data center, inside the home and business workstations and thin clients, and even inside portable devices like smartphones, tablets and netbooks.
When the industry will be ready, VMware will probably want to be inside home appliances too.
Maybe this was the original plan since the beginning. Maybe it became the new mission once VMware recognized that, because of Microsoft and others, its hypervisor would become a commodity in a few years.
For sure such plan (partially) explains the acquisition of SpringSource.
The problem is that the IT world already has a platform that it’s used to deliver business services and that is available in every computing device the users have access to. It’s the Web.
So if VMware wants to become the definitive platform for service delivery, then it has to fight the ongoing, global effort of the IT industry to turn any piece of software into a web application. And has to compete, in the long run, against those vendors that lead this effort, like Google.
Of course it’s not cheap and not desirable to turn all the existing applications into web apps. And this is where the VMware mantra is focusing right now and will focus more and more over time.
But what will happen ten years from now if the whole industry will follow the Google example and embrace the web development 100%?
Will VMware be confined to the role of a platform provider that allows to run legacy software in a way that it seems a brand new web application? This is exactly how server virtualization was sold at the beginning of the VMware history, well before everybody started to recognize its value for server consolidation.
And what will happen to VMware when next generation web applications will be about to replace everything?
It VMware really envisions its virtualization platform as the best way to deliver business services, then Google is the one to fight, not Microsoft.
And maybe this explains why the company CEO didn’t waste time to criticize the Google approach to cloud computing.