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Could Patent Landscape Analysis Improve VMWare’s Outlook?

patent landscape analysis vmwareNo one would ever say that VMWare is struggling. Though purchased twice since its inception—first by EMC and then again by Dell when all of EMC was acquired—the company has always been considered a separate entity and has performed as such. And with billions of dollars in revenue even now, VMWare is still a major player in virtualization.

But if you listen to whispers of those in the tech field, you might begin to wonder if VMWare has a problem after all. How could the company that made virtualization a reality struggle? Well, if they haven’t seen a product stick with consumers as well as their first one did, then maybe there is something to worry about.

VMWare’s Storied History

VMWare was founded in 1998, the same year they filed for their first patent (6,397,242) for a “virtualization system including a virtual machine monitor for a computer with segmented architecture.” They’ve since patented technologies with advanced storage capabilities, but they changed the world with x86 server virtualization.

Take a look at the patent map below. The seminal patent 6,397,242 is circled, resulting in an enormous fan of later patents that reference it. What an enormous impact this company has had on the virtualization world! As you’ll see in the top box on the upper left side of the map, some of the biggest names in technology have since named VMWare’s first patent as prior art, including Intel, IBM, Dell, Microsoft, and Sony. You can click on the image to access the interactive map.


The same year VMWare went public, 1999, VMWare was acquired by EMC. A smart move by EMC, to be sure. Perhaps, when making the decision to make or buy new technology, EMC found it best in this case to acquire. 

It’s been over a decade now since virtualization went mainstream, and now VMWare is experiencing a decline in new software licenses. In fact, most of the revenue from x86 server virtualization now comes from maintenance.

Here Come the Competitors

vSphere was certainly revolutionary, and VMWare held onto their share of the market for years, but competition often creeps in, especially when your efforts to create new and bigger products have largely failed to catch on.

With Microsoft now offering Hyper-V, their own free version of VMWare’s same technology, as a part of its Windows Server operating system, VMWare is really on the run.

Add to that the influx of companies offering cloud computing, such as AWS, Microsoft Asure, and Google Cloud Platform. All of these platforms are likely to introduce their own virtual machines by 2019, so the crunch is really on for VMWare to develop something new.

VMWare Broadens Its Portfolio

The tech giant has begun to broaden its patent portfolio in the hopes of getting ahead of competitors, most likely in the “hybrid cloud.” The problem is that several other giants—perhaps with even more funding behind them—are already headed there, too, including IBM, Dell (as a separate entity, even though it does own VMWare through its purchase of EMC), Nutanix, and Simplivity.

How can VMWare fight through the noise to regain its position on top? Is a broadening of the portfolio helpful if the space in which they’re staking their claim is already crowded with competitors?

How IPVision Could Help

What if VMWare could see the whole picture—not just the space in which they reside? What if they could take a look at the entire technology landscape, including the white spaces left available by their competitors?

There are certainly still several areas left unexplored in the world of virtualization and cloud computing. Rather than fighting over the bit of ground they’ve claimed, struggling to knock everyone else off and become King of the Mountain for only a moment, why not search through unclaimed territory to create (or buy) technology that is once again groundbreaking?

With the innovative products now available through IPVision, VMWare could do exactly this. First, our patent analysis process could let them know exactly what they hold in their portfolios, with scores and analyses of each and every patent and all the patents within their holdings’ families.

Our IPVision Advantage dashboard can then show every single patent owned by their competitors, as well as patents owned within a particular industry or category. All of this information, together with one of our patent maps, can give a clear indication of where competitors are going—and where they aren’t. That white space might just be where VMWare—and any other company struggling to find space within their own industry—needs to stake its claim.

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Categories: Patent Landscape, Patent Analysis