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VMware acquisition of Intrinsic denotes bigger strategic plan

VMware has acquired Intrinsic, a maker of virtualization technology that secures Node.js applications on serverless environments such as AWS Lambda.

VMware's acquisition of Intrinsic, a startup that offers software to secure serverless workloads, is its latest step to flesh out capabilities well beyond the core virtualization stack.

The deal gives VMware unique expertise and technology as it expands the VMware AppDefense platform into public cloud environments, a spokesman said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Intrinsic, based in San Francisco, was founded in 2015 and originally called GitStar. Its virtualization technology resides inside a Node.js runtime and protects applications written in the widely popular server-side JavaScript framework through policies that users set. It works with AWS Lambda as well as Azure Functions and Google Cloud Functions, according to the company.

Intrinsic's offering should be of interest to IT shops as they evaluate serverless capabilities in the cloud, said Ryan Marsh, a serverless expert and DevOps trainer at consultancy TheStack.io in Houston.

Ryan MarshRyan Marsh

"For Lambda, which already restricts resources via policy, Intrinsic offers finer-grained control within the Lambda execution environment, and also can restrict outbound HTTP. Neither of these cases are covered by AWS IAM within Lambda," he said.

Intrinsic's technology would be better off maintained by an open source community, Marsh added. "However, enterprise customers love to spend money on underutilized code security tools, so I'm sure this will make VMware quite a bit of money as serverless adoption increases," he said.

Intrinsic deal fits in bigger VMware growth plans

VMware's acquisition of Intrinsic follows its purchase in May of Bitnami, which provides a set of pre-packaged apps and technology stacks vetted for security and performance, including MySQL, Jenkins and GitLab. They are geared for fast deployments in multiple environments.

Last week, Pivotal revealed it is in talks to be bought out by VMware for about $1.45 billion. Analysts said that combination presents both opportunities and challenges for VMware, such as whether to focus on Pivotal Container Service, the Kubernetes-based platform it co-developed with Pivotal, or the Pivotal Cloud Foundry platform as a service (PaaS).

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

Those moves make sense for different reasons, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif. Bitnami supports VMware's need for a software marketplace within its strategies for hybrid cloud and end-user computing, Mueller said.

What they're doing is expanding beyond their world which mainly used to consist of just vSphere.
Gary ChenAnalyst, IDC

Dell Technologies holds majority stakes in both Pivotal and VMware. "[The potential VMware-Pivotal deal] is a salvage operation," he added. "Dell can't let [Pivotal] go down, but it's cheaper and easier for VMware to buy it."

Several other VMware acquisitions -- in just the past month -- expand the company's capabilities outside virtualization. Uhana brings AI and machine learning capabilities, Veriflow adds network monitoring and Avi Networks provides load balancing and other application performance functionality.

Taken collectively, VMware's acquisitions fit into a deliberate pattern to expand beyond its world that has mainly consisted of virtualization and just vSphere, said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC.

Gary ChenGary Chen

"They're looking at extending their platform and various services to platforms that aren't based on any VMware technology at all," he said. "If you're using Lambda in the cloud, they want to offer services for that."

While this is a fairly big change for VMware, it's also a practical one, Chen added.

"The whole world is not going to be on VMware," he said. "That's the reality they've accepted. People are going to use VMware and lots of other platforms."

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