VMware, which pioneered the software virtualization market with VMware Workstation, ESX Server, and GSX Server, announced this week that it will open its technology in a bid to make it an industry standard. VMware's move comes in the wake of increased competition from Microsoft, which recently unveiled its own software virtualization products and has hinted that it will include virtualization services in Windows Vista, its next-generation OS.
"Virtualization is gaining widespread adoption due to its indisputable customer benefits," VMware President Diane Greene said. "It is an area rich in opportunities, and the ecosystem will develop most fully with open standards. VMware is thus taking our industry-leading products, opening up the APIs, and providing shared governance and source access to them. We look forward to this next phase of increased partner collaboration and believe it is the best possible way to give customers the ability to realize the full potential of the x86 virtualization layer."
To spread the use of its virtualization technology, VMware is sharing its source code with partners such as AMD, Computer Associates (CA), Cisco Systems, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Novell, and Red Hat. These companies will modify VMware's virtualization software and use it in their own products, creating an expansive market of compatible virtual machine environments. Virtual machines are similar to software-based PCs; each environment can host its own OS and applications, and a PC can run multiple virtual environments simultaneously.
Microsoft tried to purchase VMware 2 years ago but was rebuffed. Instead, Microsoft purchased virtualization technology rights from Connectix, maker of Virtual PC. Microsoft now sells Virtual PC and a virtual server product and will allegedly add Virtual PC-like services to at least one edition of Vista, which is due in 2006. EMC purchased VMware in 2004.