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Betting on Virtualization
Christo Jacob
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
The major milestone in the history of the $1.3 billion virtualization solutions provider VMware was its IPO. Since then the fortune of the fourth largest publicly traded software company has been remarkably bright. Diane Greene, President, CEO, and co-founder of VMware weaved every fabric of the Palo Alto based developer of the software that is credited with starting the move to virtualize x86-based servers since its beginning. Founded in 1998 by Daine and her husband Mendel Rosenblum, VMware’s virtualization software helps companies cut costs by grouping the work of multiple computer servers onto a single machine. Today, VMware continues to own more than 80 percent of the emerging virtualization market. During her recent visit to India to inaugurate VMware’s new Bangalore R&D facility, Diane shared her experiences to The Smart Techie on how she built the billion-dollar company.

On the secret of success...
Envisioning to work on this space with a lot of consideration and concentration, much before people really thought of it, has helped us to take a lead in this space. I think one of the benefits that we offer our customers is that we never tried to lock people into any new technology where we create an opportunity for the choices of application, operating system, and software. VMware’s technology did not depend on the heavyweights like Microsoft, Oracle, and others and its independent strategy has allowed it to rack up significant partners and corporate customers.

Recruiting challenges...
We never compromised on quality during the growth phase. While recruiting also we insisted on handpicking the best engineers, which is fundamental for the development of great products. The IPO was helpful to pool in the best talent, as the techies would like to work in growth potential environment and niche technology that is focused and creative. VMware poached Richard Sarwal from Oracle, to become its Executive Vice-President for research and development, overseeing all of VMware’s R&D and Kate Hutchison from Citrix Systems to become its chief marketing officer.

Challenges as a woman leader...
In the early stage of VMware’s operation, as we did not raise any funds from VCs, I did not have to prove myself to anyone. As I was pretty different from the rest of the executives, I had to turn my way to work smartly.

Growth opportunity in India...
In India, virtualization is still in a nascent stage as it has entered Indian market only in 2004. With more than 160 channel partners in the country, presently VMware has 300 customers –Helix Finance, Chitale Diary, Bharath Peteroleum, i2 Technoilogies, HPCL, Mahindra & Mahindra, FirstSource amongst others. With over 500 developers now, we are targeting a 50 percent growth. We see a lot of growth opportunity in Asia, though there is still a need for awareness to adopt virtualization. Even in many parts of the U.S. and Europe, though many companies have been around for a while, only 50 percent of them have been virtualized, and the majority of the virtualized ones are relatively small.
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