VMware has done an admirable job building a vibrant ecosystem around vSphere, but the process is getting harder as the virtualization market evolves. First, the backlash from VMware’s recent licensing changes, which will boost costs for some customers, demonstrates that VMware’s grown out of the fanboi-with-a-cute-puppy stage. VMware has shown that it's in business to make money, and the community is going to see the company with a slightly more jaundiced eye.
Then there’s the escalating threat presented by Microsoft with Hyper-V. From what I’ve seen, Windows 8 Hyper-V will be competitive with vSphere, including all of the features from my must-have list, including live storage migration. VMware has to make it as easy as possible for independent and corporate developers to create tools that help differentiate vSphere from the less-expensive Hyper-V. We know Microsoft is playing nice with folks like Veeam and Virsto.
One must never forget that Microsoft started out selling developer tools; it was, after all, the BASIC interpreter Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote that not only started it all but brought IBM to Microsoft in the first place. The DOS cash cow that bankrolled the development of the rest of the Microsoft empire was the direct result of IBM coming to call.
As a vendor of compilers and assemblers, Microsoft has always been in touch with the developer community. Microsoft realized from the very beginning that the success of an operating system depended on the evolution of an ecosystem of independent developers. Sure, the company was hyper-competitive and would occasionally keep an API secret or incorporate an ISV’s product’s functionality into a new version of DOS or Windows (Can you say Stacker?), but Microsoft also had an army of evangelists, including my old friend Rick Segal, promoting its new APIs and multiple programs where developers could get their hands on the software at a nominal cost.