STRUCTURE 08: VMware Cofounder Mendel Rosenblum

VMware’s co-founder and chief scientist Mendel Rosenblum is on the couch, getting grilled by Om and Arnie Berman, chief technology strategist, Cowen and Company.

Mendel Rosenblum at Structure 08 with Om Malik and Arnie BermanRosenblum says:

Virtualization is a wide term. What we’re seeing is, at some level, decoupling software from hardware is a just a better way of doing it. That is only a piece of what virtualization can do.

Om: You’re already thinking beyond plain vanilla virtualization. Are we at the stage where virtualization gets commoditized?

Rosenblum: You can buy your machines from Dell and just check a box to have this included. Our vision is this plugs into the distributed system that manages the whole data center. I agree with you that bits of code that come bundled with the hardware are becoming commoditized. But the value proposition of really smart software that moves things around has fortunately not been commoditized yet.

Berman: Is PC virtualization an opportunity that is ready for prime time?

Rosenblum: We started as a desktop virtualization company. It’s still a business for us. The question is when will it become mainstream? On the server side you can virtualize with virtually no overhead, but the desktop side is trailing that.

Om: Let’s talk about role of virtualization in the data center.

Rosenblum: The whole data center is virtualized and controlled by a virtual layer. The current versions of our software will be highly optimized for power management. Second thing is we’re looking to make it as reliable as possible. Even if the computer you’re running on dies, the software will continue to run. The goal is to build a computing environment on a virtualized machine because of availability and reliability.

Berman: VMware is like the Kleenex of virtualization. But the competition is coming, what do you do?

Rosenblum: The bar to entering is getting fairly low. VMware’s value is managing the data center and reliability, etc. The hope is that this continues to have value.

Berman: What’s the most important thing about your work that is under appreciated?

Rosenblum: We spent a lot of the early times telling people that virtualiztion is a good thing, and we don’t have to do that anymore. I’m really interested in cloud computing; maybe someone else is managing those virtual machines, and the virtual layer I can maybe decide if I want to manage that in house or not.