VMware won – handily – the battle for leadership in server virtualization. The company attained broad acceptance within companies looking to bridge the gap between growth in compute demand and contraction in CAPEX budgets, and then drove penetration within these accounts, to the point where virtualization is the default approach to servers, and VMware is the de facto standard for virtualization within the data center.
The issue for VMware now is – what next? There is still some opportunity for growth in server virtualization, but customers are starting to hedge their virtualization bets by moving to multi-hypervisor strategies, including Hyper-V, Xen, and/or KVM within their environments. While successfully competing in its core market is essential, the “next big thing” for VMware isn’t found in beating back smaller server competitors – it’s expanding into the two big adjacent markets, client virtualization and cloud infrastructure management.
The client virtualization space poses some interesting challenges and opportunities, especially in the SMB market. Mobility has become a “must have” capability in today’s IT portfolio, but there’s no single, well-established path to deploying it: the visible hardware vendors (Apple, Samsung) don’t provide enterprise-grade solutions, and there is no existing standard for the various software components required to seamlessly support corporate and BYOD devices in an enterprise network. At the virtualization layer, Citrix is the current and clear leader, but anticipated growth provides enough opportunity for multiple competitors and strategies.
With its Horizon portfolio, VMware is attempting to position itself as an enterprise-grade answer to mobility requirements. The approach is interesting – but will it resonate with the channel serving the millions of SMB customers that fueled VMware’s success in server virtualization?
Last week’s VMworld was a showcase for messaging about execution. Bite-sized announcements centered around three key areas – end-user computing, hybrid cloud services and software-defined data centers. End-user computing is perhaps the most exciting for small and mid-market businesses as it directly feeds into their voracious appetite for mobility.
Techaisle study shows that the worldwide SMB Mobile Workforce will grow to 298 million by 2016 at 6.3 percent CAGR from 2013. Nearly 150 million SMB employees will be telecommuting and 120 million will be traveling on business. We are in a mobility cycle now that is characterized by intense competition for hardware, system software and applications leadership. The wave is young enough to offer margins on hardware, software and services, but as de facto standards become more entrenched this market will consolidate, and reseller focus will move to recurring service revenue as the margins erode in the hardware space.
With rapid increase in number of mobile workers, there are five main concerns that are percolating to the top of SMB's concerns: Cost of solutions that support mobile workers, security from theft and data privacy, mobile data pricing, transaction security and mobile device pricing. Recognizing some of these issues, Sanjay Poonen, VMware EVP & General Manager, End-User Computing said, “Mobility is a management and security problem”.
To cover its bases, VMware is currently betting on its Horizon Suite consisting of three products:
- Horizon View: VMware’s Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering powered by View
- Horizon Mirage: VMware’s physical desktop management tool based on its Wanova acquisition
- Horizon Workspace: VMware’s mobility management solution enabling mobile users to access corporate data, applications and virtual desktops from different endpoint devices
As Ben Goodman, Lead Evangelist, End-User Computing told Techaisle, “Workspace is a single space for getting your stuff”. It will include MDM (Mobile Device Management), MAM (Mobile Application Management) and plans are afoot to develop MIM (Mobile Information Management) and MCM (Mobile Content Management).
VMware is slightly late into the SMB mobility space as most SMB-focused channel partners are offering Citrix solutions and a plethora of niche MDM solutions for SMBs. But Sanjay Poonen’s aggressiveness was palpable. He plans to invest heavily to drive growth in VDI. VMware is bullish on the potential for its installed base of 500,000 customers, many of them SMBs, to become customers for its mobility solutions. It plans to focus on IT (not just end-users) who are open to centralized policy management and who agree with VMware’s vision that mobility is part of a larger platform. This strategy has its advantages and disadvantages. By VMware’s own admission, Horizon Suite lies in the chasm between Innovators and Early Adopters along the adoption curve. For VMware, Early Majority to Laggards is a big white space. But this highly fragmented, disjoined white space within the SMBs is getting filled with its competitors. To achieve success, VMware must:
- Target its customers that have yet to adopt mobility management solutions
- Target its customers who are willing to rip and replace
- Target SMBs that are still investigating viable mobility management solutions
MDM and MAM are by far the most prominent top-of-mind issues for SMBs across different geographies. Surveys conducted by Techaisle reveal that SMBs worry about these issues a lot, but fail to protect themselves adequately. A Techaisle survey of 9,500 SMBs across different geographies found that accidental loss of device followed by imminent danger of mobile viruses are the top concerns of SMBs while using mobile applications. This clearly demonstrates the need for remote mobile device management, authentication, and remote erasure of data.
For a vendor like VMware, the route to these SMBs is through channel partners, who are themselves increasingly turning towards their vendor suppliers as their trusted advisors. Techaisle’s channel partner study shows that on the technology side of the business, 50 percent of channel partners want training on mobility solutions including VDI, DaaS and BYOD. Partners are also looking for help in marketing: to help position these solutions to customers, 42 percent of channel partners are looking for case studies that are relevant to their own client base. In addition, channels want to acquire capabilities to be able to customize mobility solutions for their SMB client base. Affordable maintenance and support, ease of use and features and functionalities suitable for SMB needs are top sales messaging that are being used by channel partners to sell end-user computing solutions.
Clearly, VMware has to use every trick it has in its arsenal to address these issues if it is to make end-user computing market segment the “next step” in its overall growth strategy.