This year, the VMware Explore 2023 world tour kicked off in Las Vegas, with regional conferences planned for Barcelona, Singapore, Sao Paulo and Tokyo later this fall. There were a handful of announcements that I found compelling at the U.S. event, and I would like to share my insights. In particular, I believe that VMware can improve in some areas to compete for a greater share of wallet, especially with mid-market companies—so let’s dive in.
VMware NSX is the company’s cloud networking software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution; it integrates security to enable consistent policy, operations and automation across multi-cloud environments. At VMware Explore, the company announced its newest cloud-managed service offering—NSX+.
As the name implies, NSX+ provides incremental enhancements, including support for global policy management, improving network and application visibility and providing consistent access control through a single click. From a security standpoint, NSX+ integrates VMware’s network detection response (NDR) and Carbon Black endpoint security capabilities into a single service. This has the potential to ease management and harden security by employing zero-trust principles across hybrid and multi-cloud instances. The convergence of networking and security is not new, but what I like about NSX+ is its ability to operate across AWS, Microsoft Azure and other public cloud platforms, simplifying the journey for both network and security operations staff.
Also worth noting is the company’s introduction of NSX+ virtual private clouds (VPCs) to facilitate the complete isolation of networking, security and adjacent services. This enhancement is designed to prevent impact to other tenants while enabling developer and application teams to select optimal cloud resources based on application requirements. I like VPCs’ flexibility and the potential to accelerate developer innovation and provide improved application performance and end-user experiences.
Finally, VMware announced the initial availability of its VMware Private Mobile Network Service, a managed private cellular connectivity service for enterprises. VMware will provide the orchestration layer and private converged 4G and 5G core to facilitate overall management and integration into existing IT environments, both on-premises and in the cloud. The company is wisely partnering with Federated Wireless as one of its initial launch partners to build and operate the requisite 4G and 5G on-premises radio access network infrastructure, which spans Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and privately licensed spectrum. Federated Wireless continues to demonstrate a solid track record in private networking and should help accelerate the new service’s adoption.
It’s good to see that VMware has entered the private networking space, but I wonder if the company is late to the game. Cisco, Cradlepoint and Nokia each have very mature private networking offerings and a considerable lead in market adoption. Consequently, VMware must make a solid case to vie for market share.
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VMware’s Ransomware Recovery as-a-service solution was launched last year. Fundamentally, it facilitates the automation of workflows that isolate recovery environments in the cloud to prevent reinfection. This year at VMware Explore, the company announced enhancements that expand protection and accelerate recovery. New support for concurrent multi-virtual machine (VM) recovery operations aims to improve the overall efficiency of the solution. Production VMs can also run in the cloud during forensics analysis before production workflows return on-premises. It’s all very compelling, but seems complex compared to startup Airgap Networks, which offers a seemingly more straightforward Ransomware Kill Switch that is cloud-managed and does not require agents on endpoints.
Extended detection and response (XDR) is a hot category in cybersecurity right now, and at VMware Explore, the company announced advancements in its XDR offering through Carbon Black. At a high level, the product’s new extensibility applies to cloud-native application security, providing visibility and control within modern application environments leveraging containers and microservice architectures. The dynamic nature of these environments and the resulting blind spots make them ripe for infiltration by bad actors, so VMware is wise to address this area of concern, with expected general availability of its XDR offering within the next six months.
From a networking and security standpoint, there was a lot to unpack at VMware Explore this year. The company’s “North Star” vision (which is also its project code name for NSX+) provides a single platform that allows customers to manage multi-cloud infrastructure and networking and security operations through consistent policy constructs. That is a compelling value proposition, but the tradeoff comes in the form of VMware’s traditionally higher licensing costs, greater complexity and a steeper learning curve for IT operators and the greater demands on compute resources that VMs introduce. If VMware can address these challenges, it could expand its market presence, especially in smaller organizations that lack skill depth and employ lighter IT staffing models. From my perspective, that mid-market opportunity is ripe for the picking.