VMware CTO creates a vast virtualization portfolio

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards: Stephen Herrod

2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Awards

Stephen Herrod


Surely no technology company has had as great an impact on datacenters in recent years as EMC's VMware subsidiary, as IT organizations everywhere have embraced virtualization to consolidate servers and reduce power and space requirements. VMware boasts the most advanced and most widely adopted server virtualization platform by far, and it has deftly used this leadership to form a vast network of technology partnerships and to push for open virtualization standards. At the same time, the company is working to tap new markets for virtualization, including the desktop, smartphones, and cloud computing.

The man at the nexus of all of these initiatives is CTO Stephen Herrod. Helping to steer VMware's development efforts both to addressing current customer needs and to seizing future market opportunities, Herrod has a central role in shaping VMware's product road map, leading technical collaborations with partners and standards groups, and determining the company's overall technical strategy. Today, that strategy involves laying the groundwork for cloud computing, and Herrod has put significant time and energy into advocating the role of virtualization in the cloud. "Virtual machines are the perfect atomic unit for cloud computing," Herrod says.

[ Discover how the lessons learned from the 2009 InfoWorld CTO 25 Award winners can help your IT efforts. ]

In Herrod's vision of cloud computing, virtual machines migrate dynamically from datacenter to datacenter, even across the globe, to follow users when they travel, to tap additional hardware resources when usage spikes, and even to take advantage of lower electricity costs as they become available. For the VMware CTO, standards such as OVF (Open Virtualization Format), which Herrod hammered out with technical representatives from Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and XenSource (now Citrix), are key to making this vision a reality. Moving the industry toward standards such as OVF will "enable a rich ecosystem of interoperable cloud computing choices," he says.

In the meantime, Herrod and VMware have other markets to vanquish. Launched late last year, the VMware Mobile Virtualization Platform initiative promises to bring familiar virtualization benefits to the smartphone space -- including faster development cycles for handset makers, easier device management for businesses, and easier device upgrades for consumers -- starting in 2010. In December 2008, VMware View arrived, the company's first big step toward fulfilling the promise of virtual desktop infrastructure. And just two weeks ago, VMware vSphere 4 was released, further extending VMware's lead in server virtualization.

And then there's the VMware vCloud initiative, in which Herrod is working with hosting and cloud computing partners to enable the provisioning and management of virtual machines across private and public VMware-based clouds. How soon will VMware get vCloud off the ground? Herrod's not saying. But given his track record and the speed at which VMware is moving, no doubt it will happen more quickly than we expect.