VMware's acquisition of Zimbra from Yahoo points to a new form of partnership in the tech word. It's one that could define the big winners in the battle for a major piece of the enterprise market.
The acquisition shows how VMware is seeking to do more than provide virtualization technology. By packaging Zimbra's popular, open-source collaboration software, VMware can provide a more enhanced service, one that combines virtualization technology with email and calendar applications.
It rings similar to Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard's alliance announced today that will package Microsoft technology on HP servers.
These new alliances point to the undeniable trend that the enterprise is moving full-throttle into cloud computing and virtualization.
It could not be more exemplified than in the news from Gartner, which predicts that by 2012, 20% of businesses will not own any IT assets at all, relying entirely on cloud computing services. The shift will cause a major change in how an IT group is managed, what hardware is purchased and the type of staff a company will require to manage its cloud environment.
With virtualization, the enterprise can be more efficient in how it doles out IT resources. For example, an IT manager can define with much greater precision what software is used in the enterprise. Server loads can be reduced as one server can be partitioned into multiple virtual ones.
By itself, VMWare provides a robust service, and Zimbra has an established market position in the Linux and Mac OS communities. With the acquisition, VMWare can provide customers an alternative to Microsoft Exchange.
For Microsoft's part, the partnership with HP means that Microsoft Office can be packaged with Windows Azure, the cloud service offering from Microsoft. That can provide a reason for enterprise customers to stay with Microsoft and its ever-popular productivity software.
VMWare and Microsoft are becoming major competitors. With such a huge market at stake, we expect that more services will be packaged into cloud computing and virtualization environments.