Eco Octopi

If you want to suffocate your competitors, wrap the market with a set of tentacles and squeeze.

Like VMWare.

With the introduction of vSphere, VMWare initiated a strategy for the next evolution of IT infrastructure management, namely the cloud. At product launch VMWare showed it already paid attention to a whole product strategy. By engineering APIs and other bolt-in points, partnering software vendors could complete the cloud whole product definition. For example, VMWare is not a security software vendor and never should be. But virus and intrusion protection are on ITs worry list. So VMWare had to facilitate cloud-ready options for security. They designed their product so other vendors could become part of VMWare’s whole product definition.

Whole products are one aspect of dominating markets. The other essential elements to inviting FTC scrutiny include establishing partnerships with the top players in target segments and convincing the media that the race is over.

Whole product, whole ecosystem, whole mindshare.

Let’s put ourselves into the buyer’s cubicle for a moment. When evaluating any products – especially in new markets for complex technologies – you worry about three things: will it do everything I need, does it work with other stuff I use, and will the primary vendor have the strength to support me?

Whole product, whole ecosystem, whole mindshare.

VMWare’s whole product angle we covered, but it is worth noting that vendors are gleefully announcing participation. Via VMWorld, we see CA offering current and future software support within the vSphere framework. IBM, BMC and a long string of second tier players made announcements as well. No other virtualization or cloud management vendor has shown partner participation as broad or as deep. None of this is accidental. VMWare designed vSphere so others could profit by participating, and in doing so attracted said participation.

The media was perhaps the easiest to encourage due in no small part to the utter lack of competitive threat from Microsoft and Citrix, the only other virtualization solution with bucks and traction. Reporters live to “tell interesting stories” (that, by the way, is a copyrighted phrase, so be sure to cite Silicon Strategies Marketing if you repeat it). In the trade press, interesting stories mainly revolve around hot new concepts or who is flexing the most muscle. Since VMWare had established a cloud-focused whole product and was showing runaway strength for whole ecosystem, the press pretty much had to tell their story, the unwritten headline being “VMWare has taken the early and impenetrable lead in cloud management.”

Whole product, whole ecosystem, whole mindshare.

In short, with malice and forethought, VMWare wrapped tentacles around the market. The squeezing has begun. Red Hat almost did this in the early part of this century, but made one fatal mistake which Silicon Strategies Marketing capitalized upon while running SuSE Linux’s marketing strategy. Red Hat failed to think ahead. Part of our strategy for SuSE was to have them talking about the next item on the CxO’s forward planning list while Red Hat was talking about the previous one. While Red Hat was babbling to bitheads about Linux being cheaper, SuSE was chatting with CIOs about Linux leading to skill set consolidation. When Red Hat was touting a more efficient kernel, SuSE was talking to CIOs about strategic partnerships with IBM and Oracle. SuSE may still be #2, but can you name the “also ran” Linux distro vendors in 2001?

VMWare is not doing a Red Hat. While their tentacles are just beginning to wrap fully around the market, and when Citrix and Microsoft feebly toss out press releases to annoy the media, VMWare started talking about the next steps. They brought forth solutions to fill open holes in the market – cloud management application suites and SMB freebes. vCenter was introduced to automate cloud application management, capacity planning, recovery, charge backs and a rack full of other common infrastructure management issues. They also offered-up VMWare Go to seed SMB markets, providing a fast, easy and free way for smaller organizations to begin virtualizing. In the long run this will secure market wide mindshare and cause anyone moving up the IT admin food chain to have brand preference and experience with VMWare technologies.

I wax on and on about this not because I own VMWare stock and have some insane scheme to bump up the price (I do own some shares, and would appreciate it if you bought tons of it yourself). I bring all this up because it is extremely rare to see a company define, organize and instantly dominate a new market. vSphere and its tentacles are so well orchestrated as to be scary. VMWare knows the opportunity ahead in cloud computing and made sure they secured the three things necessary to dominate their new market.

Whole product, whole ecosystem, whole mindshare.


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