Fifteen years have passed since the first commercial Virtuozzo containers for Linux launched. Since then, a lot has changed in the virtualization and containers space. Containers are more popular as companies like Docker have stood up business models around containers that are resonating with developers and enterprises alike.
Virtualization platform provider Virtuozzo spun off as a standalone company from Parallels about six months ago as Odin was acquired by Ingram Micro. Virtuozzo is hoping that growing familiarity with container technology will help push the company beyond its roots and into the current conversation around containers.
“We were probably before our time,” Virtuozzo CEO Rob Lovell said in an interview with The WHIR about its launch 15 years ago. “It was picked up, obviously, very early on with service providers, hosting, and so on because they could see the value in it. It picked up very early there but it wasn’t ready for enterprises and ISVs, and other businesses and customers weren’t asking for it.”
System Containers vs. App Containers
Lovell said that Virtuozzo system containers “allows you to have a fully configurable operating system and run your applications” as opposed to app containers which provide a way to run a single application.
“We have a lot of work to do in kind of educating the market that there is a difference between the two,” he said. “Obviously all these businesses are looking at the app container wave that’s happening at the moment. There’s still a big need for system containers that could offer a lot more flexibility than Docker.”
“What we have as a challenge is to reinsert ourselves into the conversation again around containers and show that there are multiple ways of running an application,” he said.
Revamped Partner Program
In addition to the education and marketing component, Lovell said part of his role as Virtuozzo CEO is to reengage partners with a completely refreshed partner program.
Traditionally, Lovell said Virtuozzo focused on partnering based on pricing and volume. “What we’re doing now is a much more practical approach to work with partners much closer,” he said, helping partners with marketing campaigns and go-to market strategies “rather than just shipping them software and expecting them to make it work as well as we think it can.”
While becoming more engaged with existing partners is part of the strategy, Lovell said that Virtuozzo is also looking for new partners.
“The hosting market is so large. From your kind of shared smaller hosting companies, managed hosting, enterprise hosting. There are plenty of different companies which can use this technology to attract different customers. It’s about us looking at different deployment models,” he said.
As an independent business, Virtuozzo now has its own R&D, support, sales and marketing engines, Lovell said. With this independence, Virtuozzo will be able to be a lot more agile and act on partner feedback a lot more quickly.
“Within the Parallels group originally people where designated to certain products. The split of resources was somewhat easier than it sounds. Obviously we had to rebuild the support team from scratch. We had to hire in development as well because there was obviously shared development in some areas.”
“So we’re bringing some fresh blood into the corporation as well and a fresh look at things. Because the problem with any business if it’s been in existence for some time, it tends to get a little stale.”
“My role on one hand is to lead the business, enable it to be independent,” Lovell said. “The second is to give it the energy to bring in a team to change the way Virtuozzo perceives, to make it relevant now and hopefully to make it successful.”
At the end of June, Virtuozzo will be launching Virtuozzo 7. Following that launch, Virtuozzo will be releasing a DevOps orchestration tool which will give customers lifecycle management of their development environment, Lovell said. Towards the end of the summer Virtuozzo will release a standalone version of its software-defined storage.
“So even if you’re not using any of the Virtuozzo products themselves, you can still use the storage product,” he said.
Lovell said Virtuozzo is focused on tailoring the products to the “use cases of today and what service providers are looking at.”
“It’s really about action rather than talk. We’ve separated the business; we’ve done that. We’ve brought in a team; we’ve done that. We’re building a new partner program. We’re doing these things piece by piece,” he said. “We want to win back the trust and now inject some energy into not only putting ourselves in a position here [where we’re] attracting customers to service providers but we’re also helping those service providers build and grow.”