While not exactly a household name, virtualization development company VMWare has made great progress in terms of both consumer-based and commercial server and desktop virtualization; the technology that allows for multiple operating systems to run simultaneously in a shared “host” and “guest” infrastructure.  For many day-to-day users, this type of application allows one to run a copy of their favorite Linux distribution within their comfortable Windows or Mac OS X session.

However the value of this functionality is exponentially greater when it comes to server virtualization in large companies, as products like VMWare Server make it viable for IT departments to better utilize resources and ensure better stability by sand-boxing different services in their own virtual operating system environments.

Needless to say, in their thirteen years of experience VMWare has earned a fantastic reputation for innovating server infrastructures, ultimately helping to create extremely dynamic, scalable, and rock solid systems.  What does that concept sound like to you?  If your mindset is in-tune with mine, you’re thinking the cloud.  Cloud computing has, after all, utilized many of the same concepts that VMWare has been working to develop for years.  The only sizable difference is the fact that cloud-computing typically refers to when companies outsource their server infrastructures to outside providers who handle all of the overhead and headaches.  Recent moves on the part of VMWare are now suggesting that the company is looking to expand beyond their current stature of providing the framework for cloud-based applications in order to become the source of the applications and products that people use on the cloud.

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Yesterday VMWare announced that they had successfully acquired a company by the name of Socialcast.  But don’t let the name fool you; Socialcast is far from your run of the mill social network.  Rather, Socialcast is really like any other collaboration platform out there.  Much like Google Apps and Microsoft’s more recently unveiled Office 365 suite.  Simply put, it allows for employees to communicate and share information with one-another – be it in across the hall or across the world – all in a clean and streamlined interface that mimics that of “microblogging” websites like Facebook and Twitter.  And like Google Apps and Office 365 Socialcast implements their services on a hosted platform, meaning that companies of all sizes and industries can take advantage of their offerings without having to worry about the feat of implementing it on their own.

But as amazing as this new hosted venture sounds for VMWare, the fact of the matter is that the company has been working this angle for a while now.  Prior to the Socialcast acquisition, VMWare recently gobbled up a service called SlideRocket that allows for users within companies to create, collaborate on, and share stunning PowerPoint-like presentations.  While the service doesn’t offer the word-processing or spreadsheet features that one can find in Google Docs, my understanding is that it does a really good job at making corporate-quality presentations simple and efficient for businesses.  Am I the only one who can see where this is starting to make sense?

If you’re not catching my drift already, look at another one of their recent purchases.  In 2010 VMWare purchased Zimbra; a company that develops an open-source email and collaboration platform, available as a self-hosted product with both a freely available open-source tier and more feature-rich corporate-focused products.

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What do all of these products and services have in common?  They’re focused on business, and they’re developed for the cloud.  So what is VMWare up to?  While the thought crossed my mind that the company could potentially migrate all of their new acquisitions into one large super collaboration platform, I really don’t see where this would be a reasonable task.  Having said this, even though all three acquisitions are somewhat similar in focus they all service a very specific need in an organizational structure.  With this in mind, I honestly think that VMWare is looking to create a monopoly of the niche cloud-computing industry in order to become a “big player” in the cloud.


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