At first glance, VMware's virtualization and cloud computing initiatives continue to hum along. Indeed, Q1 revenues at VMware (NYSE: VMW) jumped 25.1 percent to $1 billion. But roughly 1,000 technology experts gathered at an OpenStack technology conference last week, and some attendees believe OpenStack coupled with KVM (Kernel-based virtual machine) or Xen will trip up VMware within the next couple of years. What does The VAR Guy think?

Frankly, it's hard to bet against VMware at this stage of the race. The company has a massive installed base and channel partner network, plus VMware continues to innovate across its product lines. VMware Chief Paul Maritz believes Microsoft -- rather than OpenStack -- represents the biggest long-term competitive threat to VMware.

Watching OpenStack

Still, there are those in the OpenStack community who think OpenStack coupled with an open source hypervisor could eventually beat VMware in the cloud computing market. Indeed, OpenStack supports a range of hypervisors, but several sources say KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is emerging as a preferred hypervisor for OpenStack testing and deployments.

That's particularly good news for Red Hat -- which has bet the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) on KVM. Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) CEO Jim Whitehurst has predicted multiple times that RHEV and KVM will eventually leapfrog VMWare, much in the way that Linux leapfrogged Sun Solaris in terms of enterprise deployments.

VMware: Still Going Strong

But so far, Whitehurst's prediction has yet to come true. While RHEV deployments have accelerated, VMware's revenue growth suggests CIOs have entrusted data center consolidation, virtualization and private cloud strategies to VMware and its channel partners.

Meanwhile, OpenStack has plenty of vendor support -- as exemplified by the recently launched OpenStack Foundation. But there's a shortage of trained OpenStack technology professionals who can help cloud service providers (CSPs) and businesses with OpenStack deployments.

Without more OpenStack professionals in the channel partner ecosystem, VMware's position in the worlds of virtualization and cloud computing seems secure.