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By | Ashlee Vance 2nd November 2007 08:02

VMware douses open source with waterfall of nonsense

Peace, love and lack of innovation

With groin stimulating IPOs comes great responsibility.

Ah, let's be serious. With ludicrous IPOs, comes great nonsense.

For example, our recent interview with VMware CEO Diane Greene took place in the company's new waterfall room. This magical room is just like your average conference room except it has a large glass plate at one end with water constantly rushing down its face. This is the kind of thing you put in a conference room after you've spent millions on a new headquarters and conquered Wall Street.

The waterfall, however, is so damned loud that VMware has to turn it off when they have conference calls. It also trampled all over our audio collection of Greene's thoughts.

This is all a long way of saying that VMware tolerates nonsense in its offices but not in its code. Greene flat out dismissed our proposal that the company fly the freak flag by open sourcing its flagship code.

"There is still a lot of innovation going into our hypervisor," Greene told us. "As long as there is a lot of innovation going in, (open source) is not the right model.

"What we want to do is fund ourselves to be able to build new stuff. If you're purely open source, there is no way you can do new stuff."

Greene also added that VMware readily shares its APIs with partners and gives away free versions of its best-selling server virtualization software.

We've long thought VMware's position as a proprietary software maker will hurt it eventually. Part of VMware's charm comes from adding flexibility in the data center and routing around Microsoft's locks. But should VMware's popularity and dominance only grow, the company would seem to resemble Microsoft more and more.

In addition, VMware has an aura of serious computer science around it. The majority of people we talk to in the computer science field tend to have open source leanings. This is why Xen jumped out of nowhere to receive so much press and praise before its products let everyone down. Why fight against this crowd when you could be a shining example of open competition?

Greene, of course, has the luxury of playing things exactly how she prefers at the moment. VMware does not need to inspire interest in its products or tolerate the open source bandwagon nonsense.

We're quite sure that a company such as Sun Microsystems and maybe even Red Hat would take umbrage at Greene's suggestions that innovation cannot happen under the open source model. Both Sun and Red Hat "build new stuff" and hope to profit from it.

And with Sun you find an open source company that hopes its new stuff will be the very code that pulls people away from Linux's new stuff.

So, will VMware open source its code before it gets rid of the waterfall? Er, we doubt it. ®


We'll be discussing VMware's open source plans and much, more more on the upcoming edition of Open Season. Sponsors welcome. Also, in case you haven't noticed, we're having a virtualization e-Symposium next week. Do yourself a favor and attend. Click on any of the, oh, 200 ads around this story.

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