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VMware co-founder tackles virtualization at Cisco

Cisco CTO Ed Bugnion was one of five VMware founders

By , Network World
June 28, 2010 06:46 PM ET

Network World - The five visionary tech executives who created VMware and launched the x86 virtualization market have kept low public profiles in recent years, with four leaving VMware as the company gets remade by owner EMC.

But Ed Bugnion, the first of the founders to leave VMware, is still in the virtualization field at Cisco, where he is helping ensure that data center hardware can harness the potential of the virtualization software he developed at VMware.

VMware vs. Microsoft vs. Citrix

Bugnion, VMware's CTO, left the company in 2004, the same year it was acquired by EMC. He went on to co-found and serve as CTO of Nuova Systems, which was acquired by Cisco in April 2008. Cisco turned Nuova into its Server Access and Virtualization technology group, and Bugnion is now CTO of that business unit.

"It was the right time for me to leave, and I started Nuova Systems after having left VMware," Bugnion explained during an interview last week at the Red Hat Summit in Boston, where Cisco discussed some joint technology with Red Hat. "The announcement we made in 2005 is that the deployment of virtualization at scale will change the way IT thinks about the underlying infrastructure of the data center, including the networking infrastructure. That was the genesis of Nuova Systems."

Bugnion founded VMware in 1998 with Edward Wang, Scott Devine, and the two more famous members of the founding group, the husband-and-wife team including chief scientist Mendel Rosenblum and CEO Diane Greene.

"I was one of the five founders of VMware out of Stanford University," Bugnion notes. "I had multiple jobs over the years. The last one was as CTO reporting to the CEO. Before that … I was one of the main developers of the hypervisor at the beginning."

Greene was forced out of VMware by ownership in 2008, and Rosenblum left the company later that year. Wang left in 2009, but Devine is still with VMware as principal engineer.

Rosenblum remains at Stanford University where he is a computer science professor, while Greene holds board positions and investment stakes in several start-ups, including the recently launched private cloud vendor Nimbula.

"We all know each other. High tech is a very small industry," Bugnion says.

Cisco is, of course, working closely with VMware, as well as Red Hat and other virtualization vendors to create virtual machines capable of hosting mission-critical applications.

"Pretty much every hypervisor under the Sun is supported on the UCS [Cisco's Unified Computing System]," Bugnion says.

But Cisco has gone even further with VMware and Red Hat, announcing last week that Cisco's Virtual Network Link (VN-Link) technology is now integrated with Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization. (This integration already existed with VMware).

During a press conference that featured both Bugnion and Red Hat officials, the Red Hat executives criticized the VMware hypervisor, saying it is based on 15-year-old technology that is not well adapted to the cloud computing age.

Bugnion did not take sides in that battle, saying, "It's certainly a point that Red Hat would make and it's a point that VMware would not agree to."

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