VMware has demonstrated its ability to stay ahead of the competition-even competition as formidable as Microsoft. When Microsoft jumped into server virtualization two years ago, offering Hyper-V for free, "the conventional wisdom was that VMware was toast," says King.
Instead, King says, VMware has the most complete set of virtualization software for Intel-based servers and is skilled at building partnerships with hardware manufacturers. "Cloud computing has to be capable of supporting multiple sources of IT infrastructure," VMware's Jackson notes, and unlike competitors such as Oracle or Microsoft, VMware is not tying its software to any specific platform.
The company is also investing aggressively in research, nearly doubling its R and D expenditures from 2007 to 2009. "If and when this vision of the cloud that everyone is talking about comes true, corporate clients working with VMware will be in a very good position to take advantage of these changes" King says.
Headquarters: Palo Alto, Calif.
2009 Revenue: $2 billion
CEO: Paul Maritz
What They Do: VMware has made its greatest impact in the enterprise with its ESX line of server virtualization software, and it's expanding its portfolio to include desktop virtualization and cloud computing software. Although VMware is a publicly traded company, storage vendor EMC owns an 81% stake.
Read more about data center in CIO's Data Center Drilldown.