When VMware, Pivotal and Google announced a containerization partnership this morning at VMworld, it sounded more like the introduction to a joke — Google, VMware and Pivotal walked into a bar… But in fact, it’s probably not a coincidence that these three companies have joined together.
They actually have a long and intertwined history — with former VMware co-founder and CEO Diane Greene, who is now in charge of Google Cloud, acting as the glue between these organizations. That tells you how interconnected this industry is. It’s so intertwined, in fact, that we can trace this deal to seven moves that began back in 1998 when VMware was formed.
Here we go:
1 Diane Greene helped launch VMware in 1998
In the beginning Diane Greene helped launch VMware and it was good. The company went onto to transform IT by becoming the standard for virtual machines in the data center. EMC bought VMware in 2003.
2 VMware launches Cloud Foundry in 2011
Three years after Greene departed from the company in 2008, VMware created Cloud Foundry, the open source Platform as a Service.
3 EMC and VMware create Pivotal to commercialize Cloud Foundry in 2013
In 2012, EMC bought Pivotal Labs, a company focused on helping customers develop the agile methodology. In 2013, EMC and VMware launched Pivotal (along with GE as a limited partner) and handed off the commercial Cloud Foundry business to Pivotal.
4 Google developed Kubernetes in 2014
A year later in 2014, Google released the first version of Kubernetes, which went onto to become a popular open source container orchestration engine.
5 Diane Greene joined Google Cloud in 2015
In December 2015, Google bought a startup called Bebop and with it brought one of the company’s founders, none other than Diane Greene, to run Google Cloud.
6 Diane Greene hired Sam Ramji from the Cloud Foundry Foundation in 2016
A year later Greene brought in Sam Ramji, who was CEO at Cloud Foundry, who then became VP of product management under Greene.
7 VMware partnered with Pivotal and Google in 2017
Just today, the three companies came together to form a partnership around containers, but the groundwork of a partnership had its genesis in the web of relationships that formed long before that.
And if you want to see another layer, consider that Dell bought EMC last year for $67 billion, and with it brought VMware and Pivotal into the fold.
So why does this all matter beyond highlighting incestuousness in Silicon Valley? Regardless of the fact that these people and companies are familiar with one another, there still needs to be a business benefit for customers and the companies involved, or they aren’t going to come together no matter how friendly they happen to be.
The fact is that Google is looking to gain deeper entre into the enterprise. VMware is key to this. VMware is looking for a way into the cloud and this gives them cachet with Google, while Pivotal is looking for more companies to use Cloud Foundry. If companies like Google and VMware are pushing it, it creates momentum that would be harder to get on its own.
Friendships are nice, and they probably helped make the partnership happen, but it will take business success for the partnership to continue and thrive.