So as the big boys play catch-up, it is the buzzing of smaller companies VMware hears most often. A significant number of VMware solution providers offer technology from Virtual Iron, Parallels and Citrix Systems Inc., the latter of which acquired the developer of the Xen hypervisor. The only real barrier to working with alternatives is the mind share that comes with VMware's market share.
Larger companies focused on the management of virtual environments will find VMware to be the right choice, said Zeki Yasar, CTO of Intellistore, a Mountain View, Calif.-based VMware and Virtual Iron solution provider. But, Yasar said, the choice often comes down to budgets. "If the customer has no experience with one or another vendor, and a limited budget for implementation on a small scale where they don't need all the management features, a vendor like Virtual Iron is a good choice," he said."But for smaller companies with smaller bureaucracies with a technical manager who are willing to take a risk because they know the rewards, they're open to working with alternatives."
VMware doesn't care if partners work with alternatives, said Francis Poeta, president of P & M Computers, a Cliffside Park, N.J.-based Citrix and VMware partner. And that is important to P & M. "We have to look at what a customer wants from virtualization. What works in a company with 5,000 people and 500 servers doesn't work in a 500-person company with 50 servers," Poeta said.