Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thank you, Diane Greene

“Hello, this is Diane Greene.” Such was my introduction to Diane back in 1998 when she joined a conference call with me and Matthew Szulik. I had just reviewed the VMware technology with one of VMware's business development managers, Reza Malekzadeh, as part of a partnership opportunity between Red Hat and VMware. Red Hat, although still a very small company with only 70 employees and about $12M in revenue, was a hot target for alliances, and VMware wanted us to distribute their product with our Red Hat Linux product as part of the “extras” CD. Our engineers thought the technology was “very cool,” so shipping it as part of the CD made sense because it would create more demand for our product. I also thought it was cool, but at the time I was very skeptical of the business model.

Reza had shown me a diagram of the different permutations of how someone might use VMware. He indicated that it would be used immediately as a host environment atop an existing OS (such as Windows or Linux) to enable developers to rapidly develop and test for many platforms atop their workstations. But, he indicated to me that the big vision was for VMware to be the bottom layer, right against the hardware, with multiple other OS implementations running as guests atop that layer. My response: “I don't understand why anyone would ever want to do that.” Now we understand why Diane got SDForum's visionary award a few weeks back and Billy Marshall was lucky to be on the guest list.

Not one to be left behind, it only took me 6 years to determine that this new approach indeed represents one of the biggest opportunities to improve the efficiency and capability of information technology. As the hypervisor replaces the general purpose OS as the layer that exposes the hardware, the applications that ride atop that layer become much more portable and the datacenter resources become much more efficient. As Diane leaves VMware to explore her next opportunity, I owe her a big debt of gratitude for shining so much bright light on this revolutionary approach to computing. Thank you, Diane Greene, for giving all of us that play in this market an opportunity to do something wonderful for our customers.


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