VMware Gets Closer To The Cloud At VMworld 2017

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger Last week, Moor Insights & Strategy analysts covered VMworld 2017 in Las Vegas, some on-site like Rhett Dillingham and some, like me, from afar via video. VMware’s premier customer and ecosystem conference is held bi-annually (one in the states, one in Europe), and it is always a wonderful opportunity to see what all is going on in the world of and virtualization and increasingly cloud computing. I wanted to go ahead and share my quick rundown of Day 1’s general session with CEO Pat Gelsinger and COO Sanjay Poonen. Analyst Rhett Dillingham will follow up with more detailed, cloud-focused coverage. Pat Gelsinger kicks things off VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger began welcoming the 20,000+ attendees as most big tech company’s CEOs do by expressing gratitude for being able to serve as CEO. He then briefly mentioned the flooding and devastation in Houston, encouraging attendees to donate to relief efforts. He went on to say that with technology in the modern age, science fiction is quickly becoming scientific fact. Gelsinger emphasized that the biggest change that society has undergone recently be in expectations and perspective. He gave an example—when people experience their first ride in an autonomous car, they are initially impressed, but within 4 minutes they have become bored. Gelsinger said that this quick shift from “mind-blowing to mundane” is a good metaphor for everything that’s happening in the modern age, from industry to industry. He emphasized that VMware is not trying to bring back old jobs, it is trying to automate them away to create new, higher value roles for people in changing industries. He spoke of the shift in the tech industry first towards centralization, with the cloud, and now back towards decentralization with the intelligent edge, and IoT. This opener was classic Gelsinger- a blend of geekery he is so well-known for and a visionary glimpse of the future. Gelsinger mentioned VMware’s Pulse set of IoT technologies (for factories, smart cities, etc.) announced earlier this year at Dell EMC World and went on to say that VMware’s partnership with Fujitsu had expanded to work with Toyota—bringing the beta version of Pulse IoT technologies to next-gen autonomous vehicles. Another announcement from VMworld was that Fujitsu is planning on packaging VMware cloud solutions with K5, the company’s own Cloud Service. Eventually, two companies are also planning to extend solutions to VMware’s cloud infrastructure platform, VMware Cloud Foundation (comprised of VMware’s vSphere software-defined compute, vSAN storage, and NSX network and security services).
WorkspaceONE: VMware’s unified endpoint platform
Next, Gelsinger spent some time talking about Workspace ONE. VMware claims that WorkspaceONE is now the industry’s first digital workspace platform providing a unified end user experience, management and security solution for all endpoint platforms (including Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, iOS, and Android). VMware is touting the fact that Workspace ONE is the first platform that integrates AirWatch technology with end-user identity, and says that with the help of VMware Horizon, it will also extend the technology to more traditional Windows environments. Gelsinger announced an extension of VMware’s partnership with HP Inc. and played a short video message from HP Inc. president and CEO Dion Weisler. Weisler announced that HP Inc. would be incorporating Workspace ONE into its Device-as-a-Service offering. I am always on the lookout for VMWare’s support of coopetition given their owner is Dell Technologies and the HP Inc. announcement was a good example of this. Capital One testimonial Sanjay Poonen took the stage next to facilitate a conversation with Jennifer Manry, Managing VP of End User Computing & Identity and Access Management at Capital One (a customer of VMware’s). Manry led off by saying that while most people think of Capital One as a financial services company, they actually like to think of themselves as more of a technology company that handles finances. Manry spoke of the diverse range of devices Capital One associate use—Macs, Windows, various mobile devices—and how important it is to be able to unify and manage all these endpoints effectively. She went on to say that Capital One has been using VMware technology to accomplish this—specifically, AirWatch and WorkspaceONE. Capital One is a great lighthouse customer and a good example how to do client computing right.

VMware COO Sanjay Poonen interviews Jennifer Manry, Managing VP of End User Computing & Identity and Access Management at Capital One

AWS partnership update

Gelsinger returned to the stage to talk a little bit about the cloud, emphasizing VMware’s focus on “making private cloud easy”: easy to deploy, easy to manage, and easy to secure. He continued to hyper-converged infrastructure and spent some time singing the praises of vSAN. Gelsinger then pivoted to the public cloud, and brought Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, to the stage to talk about the two companies’ partnership and more on one of the biggest announcements of the day: the availability of VMware cloud on AWS.  Gelsinger said that this was really “the ultimate hybrid solution”—the ability to run any application on vSphere and take that private cloud environment and easily move it into Amazon’s public cloud. Customers can use the VMware software that they are already familiar with to manage both their on-prem and cloud infrastructure. Jassy elaborated, saying that customers were tired of having to choose between the VMware/AWS binary—now they can have the best of both worlds. They wrapped up the segment by saying that VMware and AWS’s teams are integrating very well together on this partnership and that they have only scratched the surface on what the two companies can accomplish together.  I am watching closely any tie up between a leader in the traditional enterprise- VMware and a leader in public cloud computing- AWS, to see where this all really goes.  These two companies could not have been bigger enemies a few years ago, and it will be interesting what AWS does once they have an enterprise inside AWS running VMware. What’s to keep AWS from providing tools to move them off of Vmware and onto AWS?

VMware’s Cloud Services

Another big announcement from the conference, probably the biggest, was the availability of VMware Cloud Services, which aims to provide consistent operations across all clouds. The initial set of services includes: VMware AppDefense (an endpoint security solution for the datacenter), VMware Cost Insight (for cost monitoring and optimization), VMware Discovery (an automated inventory service), VMware Network Insight (a network and security analysis service), VMware NSX Cloud (to provide unified network and security for apps running in multiple clouds), and Wavefront by VMware (a platform for monitoring and analytics, built for cloud-native apps). Cloud analyst Rhett Dillingham will be providing more details and opinion on this later.

Medtronics and Sysco customer testimonials

Gelsinger brought Poonen back to the stage to interview several more customers. The goal of these interviews is to show how customers support the company and its products--in hopes, it will motivate more customers to adopt its products. First, they welcomed Karine Semmer, Head of Medtronic’s IT Hosting Transformation and Modernization Program. The medical technology company has been using VMware’s cloud management products and Cloud Foundation to help transition from the private cloud into a multi-cloud environment.

Next, Poonen interviewed Matt Nikolaiev, Senior Director and Head of Cloud Infrastructure at Sysco (the food service distribution company, not to be confused with Cisco). Nikolaiev sang the praises of NSX, and how it has accelerated Sysco’s ability to provision and secure the company’s networks. He also expressed his excitement at the fact that NSX can now operate in a multi-cloud environment. VMware seems to be really emphasizing NSX as a key differentiator this year, going as far to call it the “special sauce” tying together everything the company is currently working on.

NSX was a much bigger story at this year’s VMworld than any of the others I have seen. This makes sense given VMware already owns compute virtualization, are making headway with VSAN and to connect them all, they need NSX.

Gelsinger on cybersecurity

Gelsinger returned to the stage to talk security. He showed a visual of all the different, disparate security products and services in the market, and emphasized the fact that the industry needs a new approach. He proposed a three-pronged approach: secure the infrastructure on the architectural level, integrate the security ecosystem (controls, context, automation, validation, etc.), and lastly, implement a basic regimen of “cyber hygiene” principals. All this makes sense, and I cannot argue with the approach. I am also not surprised that this is VMware’s story as this is the security track most large vendors are taking. Cisco has a similar message of “too much complexity”- “let me help.” The biggest question I have about all of the security consolidation is, “how do you stay ahead of the curve”?

Gelsinger went on to say that he would like to see the cybersecurity industry move from a “chasing bad” approach to an “ensuring good” approach—a new model that Gelsinger says the new (previously mentioned) AppDefense service adheres to.

Next, Marc Van Zadelhoff, Senior VP and GM of IBM’s Security division, joined Gelsinger on stage. Zadelhoff talked briefly about how IBM had chosen to focus on the analytics side of security and went on to announce a new partnership between IBM and VMware. Together, they are building an application that bridges AppDefense with IBM’s operations and analytics security technology, which will be available by the end of the year. This was another win for VMware coopetition.

Introducing Pivotal Container Service

One of the biggest pieces of news from Day 2 of the conference was the unveiling of the Pivotal Container Service (PKS), a collaboration between VMware, Pivotal, and Google Cloud. The new offering will purportedly allow enterprises and SPs to deliver production-ready Kubernetes on Google Cloud and VMware vSphere. PKS will feature deep integrations with VMware infrastructure/management and will come already pre-configured for the Google Cloud Platform. The companies say this will address the industry need for a more flexible container option, that functions both on-prem and in the cloud.

Wrapping up

All in all, it was an informative conference with plenty of new announcements to chew on—exactly what I have come to expect from VMware. The company seems to be fully embracing a hybrid cloud strategy, as evidenced by the big AWS announcement. The new set of Cloud Services looks to be a great addition to the portfolio and should do much to unify management and operations across multi-cloud environments. I look forward to seeing the rollout of these services, as well as the introduction of VMware on AWS—I will continue to cover with interest. I cannot help but wonder what both AWS and GCP do with customers once they get them inside their infrastructure. I expect them over time to show customers how they can get off of VMware and onto their services. This is not an easy task, but it is likely the end game for public cloud providers.

Patrick Moorhead

Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.