Case | HBS Case Collection | September 2008 (Revised August 2009)

VMware, Inc., 2008

by David B. Yoffie, Andrei Hagiu and Michael Slind

Abstract

Paul Maritz took the helm of VMware in July 2008, just as the company confronted a radically new competitive environment. Since its founding in 1998, VMware had been the leading provider of virtualization software. Now it faced the kind of threat that every software company dreaded most: Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, was taking direct aim at its core market. As of June 2008, buyers of Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 operating system received a free, bundled version of Hyper-V, an advanced virtualization platform product. Looming over the impending competition between these two companies was the story of the "browser wars," in which Microsoft overwhelmed browser maker Netscape Communications by bundling the Internet Explorer browser with the Windows operating system. Did a similar fate await VMware? Maritz moved quickly and boldly to respond to the Microsoft threat-by deciding to offer a version of VMware's own virtualization platform product for free. But he still had to determine whether VMware's overall strategy was the right one. The case offers an overview of virtualization technology, a brief history of VMware, including descriptions of its acquisition by computer storage giant EMC, its August 2007 IPO, and Maritz's arrival as CEO; a summary of its product lines; a discussion of the ecosystem in which the company operates; and a survey of key competitors, including not only Microsoft, but also Citrix Systems and other providers that use the Xen virtualization platform. Finally, the case offers a description and analysis of several strategic options available to VMware.

Keywords: History; Technology Platform; Competition; Decision Choices and Conditions; Software; Business Strategy;

Citation:

Yoffie, David B., Andrei Hagiu, and Michael Slind. "VMware, Inc., 2008." Harvard Business School Case 709-435, September 2008. (Revised August 2009.)