Every executive who addresses a large audience at a technology conference likes to think theirs is the most important announcement. Sanjay Poonen who heads VMWare's mobile division is no exception. In an effort to play up the importance of the announced partnership between VMWare and Microsoft, Poonen used VMWare 2015 as the stage to liken the current detente as akin to Gorbachev and Reagan kissing and making up at the end of the Cold War. The reality is different.
There have been persistent rumors that sales of AirWatch - the technical infrastructure that helps large organizations manage mobile devices - have stalled. In a pre-session briefing, Poonen flat out denied that, claiming that AirWatch grew over 60% in the last quarter, and all of end-user computing grew over 30% last quarter, targeting a $10B total available market.
Microsoft's launch of Windows 10 represents a massive opportunity for VMWare to drive itself further into the enterprise as the device agnostic management solution of choice. Previously, VMWare went direct to telcos that have franchises to sell mobile devices.
Poonen was (rightly) proud of the fact that his unit has managed to ink a deal that *should* provide opportunities for greater traction but these are early days. Reports say that Windows 10 was downloaded 75 million times in its first month. Those numbers are calibrated against Windows 8 users. A big part of the allure was Microsoft offering the upgrade for free to consumers, a radical departure from the past. I understand that companies with the right licensing agreement will also get Windows 10 for free.
However, there are still large numbers of enterprise on Windows XP and the much vilified Vista so how this all works out in the reality of the corporate world remains to be seen. These companies move much more slowly than the consumer. My view is that favorable reports coming out of the consumer world will act as a force multiplier in enterprise. I can also argue (as Microsoft would likely do) that Windows 10 is a modern operating system that meets the demands of the early 21st century enterprise. How does this help VMWare?
While the perceived wisdom is that Microsoft's forays into mobile have failed, the fact remains it has a good clutch of high profile customers where users are happy with a Windows phone. Example? NYPD, where 35,000 of the devices are being deployed. Delta has been a long time Windows mobile user by both the cockpit crew and flight attendants. Microsoft Surface is doing well and Poonen believes we'll see a resurgence of tablet use after a period of relative decline. In short, VMWare is pinning its hopes on a Windows 10 adoption ripple effect and renewed interest in Windows as a mobile development platform.
We will check back in six months and see how that's panning out. Let's hope that the analogy of Gorbachev and Reagan doesn't turn into bear baiting with Putin. After all, Microsoft with Azure and VMWare are still robust competitors.