Virtustream CEO: Being Part of a Larger Dell Is 'Exhilarating'

Rodney Rogers, who co-founded the cloud IaaS company in 2009, says Virtustream can pursue its roadmap while taking advantage of Dell's industry reach.

Virtustream CEO

Virtustream, the cloud computing company that now is part of the larger post-EMC-deal Dell Technologies, has been on something of a wild ride over the past 18 months or so.

The company, which was founded in 2009 as a cloud infrastructure provider for the big, complex mission-critical business applications that run in almost every organization and launched its first product in 2010, was bought in May 2015 by EMC for $1.2 billion as part of the data storage giant's efforts to grow its cloud computing capabilities.

Five months later, Dell announced it was buying EMC for more than $60 billion in the largest merger in tech industry history, and there was almost immediate speculation about what would happen to EMC's various companies—including Virtustream—within its federated business model. For a couple of months, it looked like Virtustream would be spun out as a cloud services joint venture between EMC and VMware, another EMC company.

That didn't happen, and now the cloud services and software provider is part of Dell, one of several business units within the $74 billion company—with others including Dell EMC, Pivotal, SecureWorks and VMware—and a key piece of the parent company's hybrid cloud strategy. For Virtustream co-founder and CEO Rodney Rogers, that will work just fine.

"It's exhilarating, but it also is an awesome responsibility," Rogers told eWEEK during a brief interview at the Dell EMC World 2016 show last week in Austin, Texas.

When Rogers and co-founder Kevin Reid were looking to launch Virtustream, they knew they had little chance of making it as a general-purpose public cloud provider. Amazon Web Services (AWS) pretty much had that wrapped up, and now other high-profile companies, like Microsoft and Google, are in the mix.

But what they knew was that two-thirds to three-quarters of the software organizations run are big, I/O-intensive mission-critical enterprise applications—think enterprise resource planning (ERP) and databases—and that many of these companies could benefit from having those apps in highly automated, multi-tenant clouds. The company's products are available for both on-premises and public cloud environments.

The market for running mission-critical applications in the cloud is significant, about $18 billion to $25 billion, according to Rogers. In addition, the market for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) is as much as $65 billion.

Being part of Dell will only help Virtustream going forward, he said. The cloud company—which has more than 2,000 employees and runs more than 20 data centers worldwide—can keep building out its product portfolio and following its road map. Most recently, the company at EMC World 2016 in May rolled out its Virtustream Storage Cloud, a global, hyperscale storage cloud that competes with such top-tier provides as IBM SoftLayer, Oracle Cloud, Microsoft Azure and AWS. Virtustream's xStream management platform and IaaS is aimed at enterprises, service providers and government agencies.

At the same time, Virtustream can take advantage of all the benefits a top-tier tech vendor can provide. That includes access to a broad range of Dell customers, including among the largest in the world. Being part of Dell means that Virtustream can get meetings with C-level tech executives at companies in the Fortune 500, Rogers said. At the same time, Virtustream will be supported by Dell's massive financial resources, enabling the company essentially to act as a highly funded startup.