The Clouds are Clearing… VMworld 2017 Reflections and Predictions


One of the most interesting parts of working in the High Tech industry is how fast things move and how quickly markets can shift. This phenomenon is unique and sets the stage for executives to set brave visions and actually bring them to life within 5-7 years.

I clearly remember the day in 2012 when Pat Gelsinger took the stage at his inaugural VMworld in 2012 with a focus on 3 priorities – “The Software Defined Data Center/Private Cloud”; “Hybrid Cloud” and “Digital Workspace / End-User Computing”.  Now, its easy to look back and think how obvious these priorities may have seemed given what we know now but remember –

  • At the time >90% of VMware’s revenues were still largely tied to vSphere
  • VSAN didnt yet exist
  • NSX didnt yet exist (Nicira had just been acquired in July 2012)
  • vRealize Operations and Automation were in their infancy
  • The public cloud was still a “niche” market with limited enterprise penetration. Data Centers were still the de-facto standard for enterprise workloads
  • VMware’s end-user computing strategy was tied VMview with very limited capabilities in mobile – Airwatch had not yet been acquired

Fast forward to last week @ VMworld 2017.…For me, the focus of this event was 3 fold –

  1. VMware demonstrated the maturity of their Software Defined Data Center platform vCloud Foundation with critical mass and growth across all 3 abstraction layers (ESX, VSAN and NSX). This platform is now clearly entering mass adoption phase with now more than 5 hardware vendors now committed to offering both Converged and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solutions that are integrated with vCloud Foundation for simple deployment and dependable support
  2. VMware demonstrated that Hybrid Cloud means you can run traditional and modern apps in Private or Public Cloud with “no assembly required”; Simply put with the launch of VMW on AWS (VMware Cloud) clients can now move, extend and protect their existing vSphere workloads to an AWS Data Center from their existing vCenter Console. Even network and security which have been traditionally been the achilles heel of workload migrations have been simplified with NSX allowing for the virtualization of key network and security functions
  3.  VMware demonstrated that the future is “All About the Applications”; their familiar slogan of “Any App on Any Cloud on Any Device” resonated with the maturity and extension of their end-user computing portfolio to now cover off application and identity virtualization across traditional and mobile devices (IoS, Android, Windows) as well as key projects to extend this into the world of IoT with VMware Pulse and LIOTA (Little IoT Agent). In addition VMware took a significant lead forward in its vision to be a player in modern applications announcing a deal with Pivotal and Google to bring Kubernetes and Google Cloud into the Hybrid Cloud world (Pivotal Container Service PKS)_

No doubt this was an impressive showing from VMware. They clearly have regained their swagger and are delivering against the vision they set out. Beyond this, I did spend some time wondering about what kind of questions would be on my mind if I was at the helm of VMware: What would be keeping me up at night?

  1. Microsoft Azure and AzureStack – While Microsoft did announce AzureStack earlier this year we still have not seen the full vision and Microsoft’s marketing machine begin to churn. Microsoft is clearly setting a tack of “Build it all in the cloud and extend it locally only when required” which is different than VMware’s vision which starts with traditional applications in the Data Center and extends out to the Cloud. What is interesting is that Microsoft has the only end-to-end integrated cloud vision where they own all aspects of the solution from the platform to the Data Center. Theoretically this should be a major advantage. However, while Microsoft Azure has seen impressive growth with modern workloads they are still hampered by their willingness to attract traditional workloads without support for “vSphereWorkloads”. With AWS now supporting vSphere on bare-metal will Microsoft revisit this decision? I think its very possible!
  2. New Entrants in the Public Cloud World – Over the past few years we have gotten used to seeing Amazon, Google and Microsoft fighting each other in the public cloud world. I would say we are on the cusp of a major disruption as major players from Asia enter this market and begin to put their spin on things and disrupt, disrupt, disrupt. In June of this year Alibaba told the world its story claiming it was ready to take on Amazon and Microsoft. While many others have made claims like this I would not underestimate the financial strength and global reach of Alibaba nor would I underestimate their ability to build creative partnerships to disrupt the incumbents. What role will VMware play with these players?
  3. Multi-Cloud Management and Automation – With the maturity of the public and hybrid cloud spaces its clear that Management and Automation are a “must-win” for VMware. Organizational effectiveness and agility will be driven by an ability to manage your applications regardless of their platform or where they are located. VMware’s vRealize Solution set has shown promise in its features and engineering though clients have struggled to get it fully implemented and operational. This is a must win for the future where VMware can truly manage and orchestrate enterprise applications end-to-end
  4. The coming world of IoT – Over the next 15 years we will see our current world of Data Centers, PCs and Mobile quickly eclipsed by “Smart Machines” and “Edge Clouds”. In the race to transform digitally companies will be seizing every opportunity to blend traditional data with human and machine data allowing for better insights, quicker decisions and a differentiated business model. We are already seeing this taking place in the world of manufacturing and transportation where numerous sensors are allowing for better predictive maintenance, lower manufacturing defects and improved employee and customer safety. While this world is exciting it has a strong dependency on Industry Knowledge. IT vendors ability to leverage and integrate operational technology will be the determining factor here – VMware has a real opportunity here to partner and strengthen their proposition Will they seize it?

One thought on “The Clouds are Clearing… VMworld 2017 Reflections and Predictions

  1. Thanks for your keen insight Shawn. I have also been wondering about VMware’s IoT strategy going forward, and while security IP may be helpful – in data centre and at the edge – who and how to partner in an increasingly heterogeneous, multi-vendor world?


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