Summary:

VMware has acquired IT management provider Shavlik Technologies in an attempt to simplify for small- and medium-sized business the process of managing their machines. Shavlik brings an interesting set of new capabilities to VMware, including the ability to manage physical machines and a SaaS delivery model.

vmware

Paul Maritz of VMware

Paul Maritz of VMware

VMware has acquired IT management provider Shavlik Technologies in an attempt to simplify for small- and medium-sized business the process of managing their machines. Shavlik brings an interesting set of new capabilities to VMware, including the ability to manage physical machines and the option of buying VMware software as a service. As VMware looks to add value beyond providing hypervisors and the software for managing them, it must go both up the stack and across the stack.

It has been going up the stack via its SpringSource application-platform business, and acquisitions such as Shavlik represent a move across the stack to help customers manage all the underlying infrastructure for all their applications. Shavlik provides antivirus tools as well as patch and configuration management for desktop, physical servers and virtual servers, and is targeted at small-to-medium-sized businesses. In the press release announcing the acquisition, in fact, VMware cites the popularity of Shavlik in the VMware Go program, which targets SMB users with tools that provide them the features they need absent the complexity of high-end enterprise software. Shavlik itself claims more than 3,500 customers.

Because Shavlik also can be delivered as a SaaS offering, one might view the acquisition as an attempt by VMware to stem the tide of startup systems management vendors such as ScaleXtreme. That company, specifically, aims to simplify the delivery, process and billing of systems management for SMBs by utilizing cloud-computing delivery and usability principles.

However, some think VMware has ambitions beyond simply getting more deeply entrenched into SMBs’ IT strategies. Security analyst Mike Rothman tweeted this morning that VMware “[p]ositioned [the acqusition] as SMB play to not antagonize Big IT management partners.” Robin Wauters wrote at Virtualization.com that “[s]ome view this acquisition as a way for VMware to ‘shield’ their customers from popular configuration management and deployment tools, such as Puppet, supported by Puppet Labs (see disclosure), Opscode’s Chef, and even Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager.”

To the degree that Shavlik will help SMBs configure and manage machines without utilizing the aforementioned products or traditional software from BMC, HP or CA Technologies, then the acquisition certainly will help VMware accomplish those perceived goals. Regardless, though, with 3,500 customers already in tow, many of them presumably also VMware users, Shavlik at the very least advances VMware’s goal of becoming an integral IT vendor at every layer of every customer’s stack or, as Gary Orenstein put it over the weekend, of becoming Microsoft without an OS. We will learn more about VMWare’s strategies when Om chats with VMware CEO Paul Maritz at our Structure 2011 event on June 22 and 23 in San Francisco.

Disclosure: Puppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user cote.

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