back to article VMware boss: we rise as Windows falls

Update: This story has been updated with additional statements from Maritz and additional commentary to flesh out and clarify Maritz's comments. VMware CEO Paul Maritz has questioned the relevance of the operating system. According to data lifted from research outfit IDC, more applications were deployed on virtual servers …


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  1. Adair Silver badge

    Pardon my cynicism...

    1. He may be right, but he would say that wouldn't he;

    2. All your datas are belonging to us.

    and 3. We are the cloud and you will be assimilated.

    They can prise my hard drive from my cold dead hand, but no one is owning my 'stuff' before then.

  2. Prodigal Rebel

    vmware wins as windows loses

    hmmmm and can vmware operate on its own? no it cannot

    Can vm ware run as a client os on a bare system? no it cannot

    Vmware is no more and no less than a host application that runs on another host... without the original host vmware doesnt run either...

    1. Matthew Barker


      Yes they can run on the bare metal. It's been called ESX and is running in a lot of data centres.

      1. Lou Gosselin

        Re: Ummm

        "Yes they can run on the bare metal."

        Yes, however I can't help but think vmware's paul maritz is stretching the truth about eliminating the OS. By running on bare hardware, isn't vmware a kind of operating system itself?

        It needs it's own hardware drivers*, provides it's own hardware abstractions, manages resources (cpu, interrupts, ram, disk, network, etc), enforces security policy, etc. These are all things an OS is expected to do. Instead of a win32 or linux syscall API, vmware has it's own.

        Emulating hardware is slow, which is why vmware has "virtual" accelerated devices that don't even emulate real hardware, they have become a genuine software API. This is a good thing, since it increases performance, but it is looking and behaving more like an ordinary OS.

        Actually I think it's pretty sly that they've been able to sell customers an OS without a UI, think of how many technical and political problems they avoid this way.

        * a recent article discusses vmware's lack of bare medal support:

  3. Even Jelical


    "The traditional operating system is not only less relevant when it comes to orchestrating server hardware, but also when it comes to providing access to applications. Increasingly, apps are handled by online services."

    Presumably these on-line services are delivered by applications, running on O/S's on top of a box? (P/V does not matter which).The V bit does not reduce the number or the dependancy of the OS surely?, if so I think I've missed a serious piece of IT development...................

  4. pan2008

    so why do I still need windows?

    VMware will ride the tide while it can still charge 10K for their hypervisor. Not for too long though, Windows 2008 and their hypervisor is now credible and others are catching up. The OS is here to stay and charge for license (windows) or support Linux. What I see slowly disappearing from new implementations is Solaris and other expensive variants etc...

    1. Power Pentode

      VMWare for way less than 10K a pop.

      If you're running a multi-million dollar/pound datacenter, 10K a pop is not that big a deal. If you are an SMB or running a test lab you can download and install ESXi and run it for free. The free license gives you the ability to run ESXi on some number (10? 50?) of servers indefinitely. Unlike the free VMWare Server product, with ESXi you can create and maintain multiple snapshots of your various guests, configure VLANs and such on the fancy included soft switch, pass through up to four CPU cores to a guest, connect multiple ESXi servers to your SAN using iSCSI, etc. I have four of them in my lab right now, hosting from one to four guests each. It's a brilliant solution for testing. The ESXi hypervisor installs and configures in all of roughly five or six minutes. I'm using 4.1 and it is a nice improvement over 4.0 in terms of reduced network latency and jitter on the guests. You can run a lot of less disk intensive guests straight off a low-end SAN if you wish (Openfiler, anyone?).

      What you don't get with the free ESXi is the ability to run VCenter (I think that's what its called) and manage all of your ESX(i) servers simultaneously with one tool, move running guests seamlessly from one host to another, etc.

      1. The Original Steve

        True to a point

        However ESXi, Hyper-V and Xen are all technically free. The cost is the management tools and in VMWare's case the nice things like DRS and HA. (They are extra's!)

        A SMB is likely to have heard that VMWare is a big VM company that they haven't ever dealt with before and runs "datacentre". However the same SMB probably has a couple of Windows or Linux server already in use... which they know how to use and operate, know how to get support best, know that it works etc.

        Microsoft is pretty much there with 2008 R2 as a hypervisor (does most of what ESX does already including live migration / VMotion), plus the SMB market already have ACCESS To it.

        Same with Linux shops - it does the job and they know the stack. Why look elsewhere?

        Well done VMWare - it was nice and you pushed a decent product. Question in the next 5 years is "why am I refreshing on VMWare again when we're a Microsoft shop?"

        P.S. I'm using VSphere 4.1 currently after a upgrade/refresh just last month. However it was 50/50 if we were going to stick with VMWare or go MS. We've brought MS Virtual Machine Manager and will be managing ESX with that as a test alongside a single Hyper-V install. If it all goes OK we'll migrate rather than renew with VMWare in the next few years...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Right in the long term, wrong in the short

    Maritz' statements are partially true, but not the whole truth - pretty much standard for marketing I suppose.

    He is correct that we are rapidly approaching the time when x86 hardware offers a type 1 hypervisor. That will obviate the need to run a host OS like Windows or Linux purely to offer a copntainer to a set of VMs.

    He is incorrect that the VMs themselves will not need to run a guest OS. I can't see us getting away from that anytime soon. If I want to run some line of business app it'll have been developed for some OS and that OS will have to run as a guest in the container. Or is Maritz thinking that somehow developers will code to a set of OS APIs that VMWare will provide? That is a huge undertaking. Even IBM, with all their experience in OS development on S/390, never went that far. I'd like to see him try and sell that to his shareholders.

  6. Eddie Johnson

    I Think He Skipped Something

    What fits between his VMware and the applications running in this proverial cloud? Some sort of shim that handles basic input, output and file system maintenance? And what's the common term for that shim? Oh right, it's called an operating system.

    1. nuxul

      Software frameworks

      New development frameworks like the one from SpringSource (division of VMware) are increasing the platform of choice for new applications.

  7. David 141


    The air must be pretty thin up at the top.

    Even machines running a bare metal hypervisor need OS's under them.

    1. Goat Jam



      The bare metal hypervisor IS the OS

  8. Justin Maxwell

    The question is what is the best guest OS

    As we move further and further towards one-'app'-per-server thinking, it makes less and less sense to have a fat, all purpose OS sitting between the VM provider and the app. Windows as a server OS was always a marketing driven success story (with the technical success slowly coming along behind); but if you're going to run app X on leased server X, and app Y on leased server Y, you want the bare minimum of OS management hassle in the middle. If whoever you're leasing from is handling all the networking and storage etc etc etc, and the virtualisation - what do you care what the OS is between your DB and the hardware, etc, so long as it performs.

    So yes, of course a guest OS is required - but the criteria for choosing which is changing - and thinner will come to dominate, at least in the leased 'server as a service' space.


    Novell had it right before they got it all wrong

    Welcome to the world of Bureau Computing 2.0

  9. Glen Turner 666


    "Even IBM, with all their experience in OS development on S/390, never went that far."

    Let me introduce you to IBM's VM-CMS.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depends on what you want from your OS

    Yes, "the cloud" has taken off and as a buzzword is hugely successful, for now. Whether it'll have staying power remains to be seen. Its building blocks aren't the most solid ones. In casu windows never was much good for the datacentre; it's too focused on "user inferface", and specifically targeted at "the DAU" at that, supporting only one at a time, to be any good at scaling WRT management.

    But that by no means implies that windows related observations scale to other operating systems and their environments. Point in case: Big Iron. Just look at all the virtualisation features built into various unix systems, say solaris on a big enterprise box, or IBM's zSeries. That's just the top of the ice berg and there are all sorts of interesting free things available too.

    Further, AS400/iSeries is a system that "virtualises" on the application level and provides excellent longevity for the business logic applications running on it, with even better migration paths than apple ever could.

    Or take VMS and its clustering features. VMware can trumpet all it wants, but in a sense they're just reinventing the wheel for an inferior architecture. Or have they outgrown x86 yet?

  11. tony trolle

    as soon as it runs

    Freecell or Stars! I'll take note. lol

  12. Mikel

    All the food on the table is Microsoft's

    At least, if you ask them it is. When a software product becomes popular enough, it's time for them to harvest your market and eat your lunch.

    Adobe, are you paying attention at all?

    Yes, Hyper-V is a hypervisor and once you pay for the Windows Datacenter, it's free. If you cared about that you'ld be running Linux KVM on Debian since it's free from the very beginning before you enter into the prerequisite and definitely Non-Free Software Assurance agreement. Or you'ld be running ESXi or XenServer, both of which are free (but not Free). Saying that Hyper-V is cheaper isn't really so. The license terms include things like failover, but if you read carefully the terms you can't fail back in under 30 days. That's to give them an "in" for your BSA audit where you pay far more than VMWare could ever cost. The whole thing with Hyper-V is a mess and while a highly paid team of IP lawyers can sort out whether or not they believe a given configuration is legal, they can't guarantee it.

    If you want free, use application servers that run on a Free OS and cluster them for HA under a Free hypervisor, and pay for support from one of the many vendors who offer that, or hire somebody for goshsakes.

    If price is no object, and frankly per VM on the right hardware VMWare doesn't cost much, go with VMWare. Or XenServer.

    If you want to be sure you're violating the terms of some license somewhere, Hyper-V is a good choice.

    1. David Bond

      RE: All the food on the table is Microsoft's

      "Saying that Hyper-V is cheaper isn't really so. The license terms include things like failover, but if you read carefully the terms you can't fail back in under 30 days"

      I think you are confusing the licensing requirements for windows server with the windows server hyper v licensing requirements. You can only transfer a single windows license from one server to another once every 30 days. If you have datacenter like you suggested at the start (dont need datacenter for hyper-v, its free), and you have a license for each cpu in your servers, you can fail over as much as you like, as you have unlimited vm licenses per server. same with enterprise, but you only get 4 vm licenses per license. if you arent using all on each server, you have a free license for a fail over and fail back, as you arent moving you license from one server to another. Or if you have another hardware failure after the transfer it isnt breaking the license agreement.

      1. Mikel

        RE: All the food on the table is Microsoft's

        @David Bond: Well that was clear as mud.

  13. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    hypervisors and OSes

    @Lou Gosselin, just so, on two counts. VMWare ESX is an OS -- this specialized class of OS has been around since the late 1960s or early 1970s (I don't know when the term hypervisor was coined) -- but it's an OS nevertheless. Also, the hypervisor won't do a thing without an OS running on top of it.

    @KingZongo re "Or is Maritz thinking that somehow developers will code to a set of OS APIs that VMWare will provide? That is a huge undertaking. Even IBM, with all their experience in OS development on S/390, never went that far."

    Yeah they did. It's called an OS. As Glen Turner 666 says, they had VM-CMS -- VM's the virtual machine, CMS is a simple single-user OS. They also has DOS/360 and OS/360 (which is now Z/OS) both running virtualized (and VM can run virtualized on top of VM as well.)

    Anyway, I do think these VMWare guys.. well, I won't be surprised if Windows is on the decline, but VMWare won't have anything to do if there isn't SOMETHING running underneath it, so I disagree that OSes in general are on the decline.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    VMWare and Hyper-V have together resulted in a dramatic INCREASE in the number of OS instances. It's so easy to replicate complete client & server installs, make and distroy UAT environments, dev setups and hot-sites that from what I can see in the REAL world is that people are using more OS instances then ever before. And ESX may be the way to go, but - ESX is a barebones OS anyway and people with limited budgets are using the workstation edition - which requires a Windows OS.

    He is right that other OSes are becoming popular... and long term we will see a re-definition of an OS as a portable file system + API container + process handler + GUI +, wait that is exactly what an OS currently is.

    ...was Maritz drinking heavily when he made these comments?

    AC because I really should be programming something right now

    1. Daniel 1

      A GUI? Why does it need a GUI?

      I think the inference is, that 'operating system' instances, will dissolve down into sockets for a specific service. Yes, at the moment, lost of people are running dozens and dozens of operating system instances, simply to obtain the services of a web server, say... but that's because they're dorks.

      Windows is doomed, in this context, because its not he least bit modular. He's implying that there's no room in the datacentre, for a 'server' operating system that requires you to keep its media player patched.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    Well I get it. Windows and other OS's do not need to be a big piece of bloatware. Just a stripped down kernel with just enough smarts to run the app and no more.

  16. Geoff Campbell

    Actually, I think he has a point

    Although I also think he is expressing it stunningly badly.

    What an OS does is to provide a consistent, known environment for an application to run in, smoothing over all the variations of hardware, especially in the PC market. So it is certainly true that as VM servers become more prevalent, the need for an all-encompassing OS such as Windows goes away, because the VM presents a single, consistent set of "hardware" to the system within the VM. Also, given that VMs generally work best if you have a larger number of smaller VMs, allowing the hypervisor to schedule resources, an OS that is expensive per machine such as Windows is going to lose out.

    Now, you still need an OS of some sort, to present an API to the app and generally housekeep around the machine, but it is easy to envisage an explosion in small, targetted OSs designed to run on server VMs, taking advantage of the well-defined environment and limited requirements of server apps to be small, fast, and cheap or, more likely, free. A very constrained subset of Linux, for example.

    We shall see....


    1. Goat Jam
      Thumb Up

      Agree 100 percent

      Canonical have a clue about this, see ubuntu jeos. I never understood the whole idea of virtualizing windows. Apart from the incredible inefficiency involved with running multiple instances of windows bloat with its full gui interface you have the additional headaches of trying to keep abreast of ms byzantine licencing requirements when moving instances around between physical servers.

      So, I dont think Maritz is pulling such a long bow suggesting that as virtualisation grows the relevance of windows will be trending downwards unless ms can do the impossible and liberalise their licensing structures as well as the even more difficult challenge of removing all the superfluous gui crap from their server os.

      If they do infact succeed in turning windows server into unix you will see a sudden influx of point and drool mcse weilding "system admins" onto the job market.

      Ps. Sorry if there are some typos in this but i typed the whole lot in on my phone

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      The statement provided is plain _false_ or is at least meant to misslead many poor souls. And succesfully so.

      "....more applications were deployed on virtual servers than physical in 2009...." -- does not say that _less servers_ have been deployed.

      Basically, it says that customers have purchased less server hardware (possibly for equal cost).

      For Windows, for example, it does not matter what you run it on, as long as you pay for the license. You may standardise "hardware platform" as much as you like. But to run for example Domain Controllers (AD), Terminal Servers, Office applications, Exchange, Print Servers, Share Point etc. -- all which are standard in the industry today (whether you like it or not), you need to run OS and you need to run Windows OS.

      As soon as you come up with some scheme to get around it, Microsoft will change their license scheme and you are back where you have started.

      Remember the CItrix Published Applications story some 10 years back?

      It is my firm opinion that "Vm-ware boss" is an idiot and should be fired. You do not make false and un-educated statements like these in such a position.

  17. Joc

    Dont need an OS....

    A future where all you need is a browser???

    SHOOT ME (and my quad core cpu) NOW and put us out of our javascript misery !

  18. Adam White
    Thumb Up

    Long Live The New Infrastructure

    Death to Windeodrome!

    In other news, you've really got to look at what an Operating System is. The classical definition, something which manages memory, storage and scheduling is what Hypervisors now do, quite well. But they don't provide user-grade APIs, security, dev tools, essential services like messaging, DS, file/web/print server, notepad.exe etc etc. All that stuff we used to called "bloat" is now the only selling point Operating Systems have. In the medium term, VMware is going to get into the business of making these things, or are people (Microsoft? Maybe, maybe not..) going to start producing neo-OSes designed to benefit from running on a HV rather than HW?

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