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Perspectives October 12, 2015

Soul of a Virtual Machine

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Today’s news about Dell buying EMC reminds about me of the last line from Tracy Kidder’s wonderful book, “Soul of a New Machine.”

“It was a different game now. Clearly, the machine no longer belonged to its makers.”

In 2005, as the product manager for VMware’s enterprise desktop business, I made the pilgrimage down to Round Rock, Texas to meet the executives running Dell’s PC business. This was a year before I created VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) and VMware was still the small but fast growing, and recently acquired division of EMC. “For almost an hour I pitched Dell on the virtues of desktop virtualization. The Dell executives smiled, nodded politely, and at the end of the meeting they asked me, “You understand that we sell PCs here? Why would we ever want to commoditize our differentiation with virtualization?”

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