Posted by: Greg Ness | June 17, 2011

The Next Microsoft

Last summer I suggested that VMware could be the next Microsoft.  A few weeks ago I saw Gary Orenstein’s VMware is the New Microsoft (just without an OS) and his point was triggered this AM when I read a blog on data centers comment from Fabio Violante (EMEA CTO at BMC):

If I may add something to your picture, I personally think that in addition to DC infrastructural innovation, a powerful (cloud) management software layer is also crucial to enable any enterprise achieve or ( at least aim at achieving) the efficiency of “Well-capitalized tech companies”.

It took me back to my days at IPAM leader Infoblox, when we were promoting the infrastructure 2.0 meme along with F5, Cisco, Arista Networks and others.  I think the next Microsoft is the company that can deliver on the promise of an intercloud management platform that could allow an enterprise to deploy workloads across data centers at a moment’s notice, based on weather, potential disasters, off peak power, etc.

Many IT powerhouses once enmeshed in alliances of necessity are now making alliances of convenience in an effort to position themselves for short term advantages.  Perhaps they are not nimble enough, or forward-thinking enough to deliver on the promise of reaching the clouds.  Some may be so steeped in channel and sales issues that they cannot market out of the boxes (categories) that they helped to build.

I think more has to happen between the virtualization players and the network and storage automation players.  All are wrestling with tech and business case tradeoffs as they make their numbers; that is to say that they’re placing multiple outcome bets, straddling the present and future like Detroit watching Tesla and the first hybrids roll off assembly lines. Yet Napoleon advised generals to divide and conquer their enemies, and this multiple bet scenario has been the downfall of many a tech company that had lost its way.

As a Roman citizen once uttered: “Fortune goes to the bold.”



  1. Greg:

    Oh where to begin – this entire thread just gets me going as I can’t agree with you more. And funny enough, I was just lamenting the downfall of Cassatt as a pioneer in the datacenter infrastructure automation space – sadly, though, it was just too early and the internal changes required to existing companies “policies” too great to overcome (see: – however, the first step of Cassatt would naturally, I think, lead it to becoming that next great Microsoft you speak of.

    I see the Internet collapsing down to two practical layers: Infrastructure & Content/Applications. The latter is where the world will continue to evolve into perpetuity, however the former is where “one ring can rule them all” – this “holy grail” of centralized mgmt has been sought after ever since the “centralized computer” of the 1960’s gave way to decentralized computing and now we are returning to our technical foundation of centralization again as the “masses” only really care about content and don’t really care how it is delivered.

    What can bind them all?? In my opinion, this HUGE business opportunity will be ushered in thru the adoption of the IPv6 protocol and the ability, now, to put everything “on net” with a unique IP address – this is step one on the path towards a centralized mgmt nexus and for those willing to think that big and broad, present an opportunity that is larger than Microsoft. This new entity will be more akin to the billing platform developed by Cincinnati Bell and then adopted by all telcos.

    As you begin to look at the emerging and heretofore non-existent space of network automation with respect to IPv6, there is a bottoms up approach one can see to get to the mgmt nexus of the future which is the opposite approach of the top down approach seen by most “cloud” offerings today and a strategy, if taken by the bold (I think I may know a firm doing this now) that can catch everyone by surprise.

  2. Richard:

    I think you’re correct that IPv6 may be a necessary precursor to network automation because it allows clouds to discover and orchestrate across larger populations of devices, etc. It seems like the lower layer complexity (seen as tactical historically or even “roll your own IPAM, etc) is now becoming strategic because of more demands, processes, change.Then its all about the linkages between these layers and how well they can be managed, from visualization to control, security and optimization policies and so on.

    When virtualization rolled into production the network and security players were rife with virtualization-related announcements and alliances only to be slow to roll out product. Heard from many that it had to do with both tech and business case issues or innovators dilemmas. Maybe we’re seeing the same thing with the network and the cloud?


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