I talked with Proofpoint today, and got a more positive view about VMware’s virtual appliance strategy than I’ve gotten from other appliance vendors. They cite over 500 downloads in the past couple of months, of which a significant fraction have turned into actual sales. Specific deployment scenarios they mentioned include:
- Demo (of course).
- Tweak, test, deploy – between patches and new anti-spam rulesets, Proofpoint users seem to have a rapid change/test/deploy cycle. Virtualization makes it possible to do that without having multiple copies of an appliance.
- Disaster recovery – this seems to be a big one.
- “Surges” – depending on what the bad guys are doing, one’s need for anti-spam servers can go up and down in a hurry. Virtualization makes it easy to respond.
It probably is not coincidental that Proofpoint makes less use of custom hardware that many other appliance vendors. In most cases, Proofpoint just buys servers from a vendor such as Dell and fiddles with their packaging. For some applications it does add enhanced networking capabilities, as other appliance vendors do; while I neglected to ask explicitly, I got the impression these weren’t the ones commonly deployed on VMware.
Proofpoint said that very few of its customers bought VMware in connection with their Proofpoint deployments; except in a couple of cases, they already had it and were using it for other things.