VMware’s Greene: A Virtual Success Story

If virtualization is the one of the hot technologies to watch for in 2007, then VMware President Diane Greene may have the best seat in the house.

Greene, who along with her husband and three other engineers, founded VMware in 1998 as a company that could take the concept of virtualization-the ability to run multiple applications and operating systems on a single server or PC-and develop the technology for a much wider audience.

Virtualization as a practical way to manage data center assets has been in use since the late 1960s, when IBM offered a version of the technology for its legacy mainframe systems.

What VMware did, however, is take the technology and deliver it to the mainstream, first for desktops and then later for x86 servers. Now in its ninth year, VMware, which is owned by EMC, dominates the virtualization field and had a record year in 2006, including an 83 percent increase in revenue over the previous year.

VMware announced earlier this year that it would sell 10 percent of the company in an initial public offering, which means that its customers will likely see more in the way of virtualization innovation in the coming years.

In an interview with eWEEK, Greene, who placed tenth on Ziff Davis Media’s Top 100 Most Influential People in IT list, said that the next great wave of virtualization innovation will help bring the technology out of the data center by combining security and manageability.

“I think there is a real desire out there now to host desktops on a server,” said Greene, who holds degrees from MIT, the University of Vermont and the University of California at Berkeley. “I think you’re going to see the ability to run more desktops on servers and companies investing more in thin clients. This is going to allow companies to have PCs with instant restart, no booting and have a lot more control over the management of the data.”

You must see beyond the trends to become an influential IT person, writes Eric Lundquist. Read his column here.

Another key innovation is creating a mobile virtual environment. Greene’s company has already starting addressing some of those issues with the March 5 beta release of ACE (assured computing environment) 2 software. The beta offers new security features for virtual environments on laptops, such as the ability for IT administrators to utilize or lock down USB ports within these virtual environments. Within the data center, Greene said the company is working on perfecting the migration of virtual environments from one machine to another without interruption.

Outside of traditional virtualization vendors, Greene said she has been impressed with the offerings from both Intel and its rival, Advanced Micro Devices, and what the two companies have done to add hardware support for CPU memory and I/O virtualization. Greene has also been impressed with the innovations coming from Web 2.0 companies, such as Google, Amazon and eBay.

As for the future of VMware, Greene remains optimistic that the company will not only grow, but thrive. “The demand for computing will not decline,” Greene said. “VMware is on 5 percent of the servers out there and there are a lot of places for us to go with virtualization and we have a very rich road map.”

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