Monday, December 25, 2006

VMware - the real rocket scientists

VMware is not just an extremely successful business, but also a great technology company that has solved some of the toughest problems in Systems Engineering. Consider the following -

1. Checkpointing and Restarts - VMware has long had the capacity to take snapshots of a VM, save it and restore from snapshots. The ease with which snapshots can be taken and retrieved makes this operation look extremely simple, but until VMware introduced this elegant feature, "checkpointing and restarting" was considered one of the holy grails of Systems Engineering. Some of the best researchers in Universities and Industry tried to solve this puzzle for the last 20+ years with different levels of success, but never came close to building an easy-to-use and complete solution for a mainstream operating system.

2. VMotion - With the latest versions of their server software, VMs can be moved to a different server on the LAN with sub-second latencies. Migration of snapshots is a considerably tougher problem than just taking snapshots and restarting from them. Of course, VMotion is made possible only because of many advances in technology like high-speed networking and storage, but in supporting this feature, VMware has clearly proven that they have attained THE holy grail.

I remember using VMware in Grad school in 2001 and recall it being a touch immature. However, their products have come a long way since then and are now used for mission-critical applications. Clearly, VMware's great innovation and product development has helped take their product to this level of maturity. And before I forget, let me add that their competitor's products are nowhere near as mature or feature-rich. Great innovation and product development is possible only when you hire smart people. If you thought Google hired smart people, wait until you meet the real rocket scientists who work at VMware!

So, VMware has great technology and great people, but will I buy their stock? Watch this space :)

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