Om's Q&A with VMWare cofounder, Rosenblum

Shortly before Christmas, Om sat down with VMWare cofounder, Dr. Mendel Rosenblum, also the virtualization software company’s chief scientist. Diane Greene, whom we wrote about earlier, is VMWare’s current CEO, and the person largely responsible for driving the 9-year-old company to its blockbuster IPO in August.

Greene wouldn’t have had any company to take public if it weren’t for Dr. Rosenblum and his colleagues. As Om notes, Rosenblum is an associate professor of computer science at Stanford University. During his research in operating systems, and together with three of his graduate students — Scott Devine, Edouard Bugnion and Dr. Edward Wang — Rosenblum came up with the idea that led to VMWare (VMW), which was founded in 1998.

Founders can learn a thing or two from Om’s chat with Rosenblum. The company struggled through a slow start, Rosenblum tells Om. (Rosenblum’s wife handled the business side until Greene came along!) VMWare ultimately came through, by offering a solution to a very big infrastructure problem plaguing the computing industry.

Dr. Rosenblum lays out the problem, and its solution (= VMWare’s reason for being) very clearly in this excerpt from Om’s interview:

We went down a rat hole on how we built the data centers. I am not surprised with all the problems we are having with data centers. In my opinion, the architecture has problems because it was built with inferior solutions. What you had was people placing services on servers in a way that led to lightly loaded machines that were idle most of the time. The whole thing was built for peak performance (and not maximum utilization.) Well, idle machines use as much energy as fully utilized machines. The way out of this is to put more on the machines, and get them to be more efficient and take on the work load that will, to some extent, lower the power consumption….

With VMWare’s virtualization software, Dr. Roseblum explains, “What we are doing is basically coming up with a new way to run the datacenter.”

Not least because of its wildly successful IPO, VMWare now has lots of competition — from Microsoft and Oracle, for example. Read more of Om’s interview for Dr. Rosenblum’s response to how VMWare will handle it, and his 2008 forecast for the industry, at large.

For more on what you can learn from VMWare, see Tortoise or Hare?