Virtual Iron Shuffles Management

Former EMC and Avamar executive Ed Walsh plans to refocus the company's attack on VMware and others.

Virtual Iron, which has been driving to position itself as the low-cost alterative to x86 virtualization leader VMware, is shuffling its management structure with a new CEO who plans to refocus the companys marketing strategy.

On Oct. 29, the Lowell, Mass., company will introduce former EMC executive Ed Walsh as the new CEO and president. John Thibault, the current CEO, will stay with Virtual Iron as executive Chairman of the Board.

Walsh, who joined EMC in 2006 after the storage giant bought Avamar, a data protection software company where he was CEO, told eWEEK that he plans on refocusing and reshaping Virtual Irons marketing strategy. In an interview, Walsh said customers are looking for an alternative to VMware and he believes that Virtual Iron can offer that choice at a much lower cost. (EMC is the parent company of VMware.)

"We want to show that Virtual Iron has full functionality, is easy to install, easy to use, easy to manage and that we as a company are easy to partner with," he said.

Walsh, who left EMC in February, added: "This is just an unbelievable market right now with the potential for a huge amount of growth. Im not saying we have to beat VMware, but we need to show that our technology is equivalent to their products."

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about the new virtualization products from XenSource and Citrix.

Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata, said that while some customers are looking for alternatives to VMware, the companys latest financial results show that users are still buying its products at a healthy pace.

"Yes, there is a place for alternatives, but some of the alternatives that are already there are Citrix, Microsoft, what is being delivered free on servers and what comes with Linux distributions," Haff said. "The bottom line is that Virtual Iron has decided to change their direction and while they are in a tough position, it is not unattainable."

Virtual Iron has been trying for a better part of the year to transform the company. After moving away from using its own hypervisor—the piece of software that makes virtualization possible—the company began using the open-source Xen hypervisor as the basis for its product. In September, the company introduced the fourth version of its software suite and then struck deals with IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

In time, Walsh said that the hypervisor will become totally commoditized and what will distinguish the different companies will be the types of features, management tools, policies for high availability and disaster recovery that companies can build onto that hypervisor layer.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Virtual Irons deal with HP and IBM.

Walsh, who served as vice president and general manager of EMCs information management software group, said Virtual Iron also has to do a better job of leveraging its channel partners.

While the company can market its virtualization technology to small and midsize businesses looking for less expensive alternative, he does plan to continue to sell to enterprise clients and certain vertical markets, such as education and government.

In addition to Walsh, Virtual Iron hired John McCarthy, another former EMC executive, to run its sales and channel divisions.

"We have to go the market, get our message out there and be 100 percent focused on our channel," Walsh said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.