Now that VMworld is over, it is time to digest everything we learned: to pick at the messaging for the kernel of truths and directions. Many found the VMworld keynotes to be somewhat bland and the show floor to be much of the same. However, there was gold within both. We can discuss the show floor later, as I’d like to look deeper at the messaging first. The gold was hard to put together amid all the different messages. Themes included cross-cloud, Photon, NSX, and VSAN. These may seem disjointed until you look deeper. The messaging could be better, and I expect it to improve by VMworld Barcelona. Yet, there was clearly a path forward for each of VMware’s customers.
We on the cutting edge sometimes seem to forget that many organizations are not there yet. This was brought to my attention at EMC World 2016. I had the opportunity to talk to customers in various stages of maturity in their cloud journey. A good half of those customers were just starting out and had the typical growing pains associated with virtualization: the change in mindset, the need to provide data protection, the issues with growing too fast, etc. Others were like me, on the bleeding edge. I would say 80% (just a guess) are not on the bleeding edge or even close to the cutting edge.
These organizations are plodding along on their own journeys and may never, ever make it to the cloud. Nor do they have the desire to do so today. Yes, they use some cloud services, but they are not embracing IaaS readily, for various reasons that have been discussed before.
VMware has a very hard journey unto itself. It needs to keep the vast majority of its customers happy, yet provide a path forward for those already at the edge and moving further away. VMware needs to transition from just a hypervisor solution or cloud solution to simply looking at applications. That is the gold of cloud-native applications, containers, etc. The view of the data center changes to that of the application.
The real question becomes “How does one achieve this change in view?” This view is prevalent in many of VMware’s products today. It is just not a consistent message. Many vRealize tools, including the new vRealize Network Insight (formerly Arkin), provide a method for capturing the application definition. This includes those components outside the virtual environment: those already within other clouds, that are technically cross-cloud or hybrid cloud. vRealize Network Insight plus vRealize Infrastructure Navigator provide the potential to finally automatically pick up the definition of an application, update a blueprint, and increase application-centric management and deployment.
However, the real message is the path forward. VMware provides a foundation not just for the traditional IT application running within Windows (or Linux), but for those who wish to move to containerized cloud-native applications. VMware has described a way forward when you place all the pieces together.
VMware’s way forward addresses not only the vast majority of customers who are just getting stated with or already use VMware’s products for traditional applications—with vSphere—but also those just getting started with containers who still have traditional workloads—with vSphere and Integrated Containers—and those already on the cutting edge who need increased security and isolation for their container-based applications—with Photon Platform. All the while, it allows its customers to hop onto the hybrid cloud at any time using cross-cloud services and NSX. VMware has the tools not only to back your journey, but also to do so in a secure way both directly and via its partner ecosystem (via workload isolation, microsegmentation, secure networking, and providing business continuity and disaster recovery).
This is a powerful statement of intent. Granted, it was not emblazoned on any slides. However, when you pick and pry within the messaging, a consistent message does appear. VMware has products for all stages of your journey to the cloud, containers, and even Internet of Things (IoT).
We got a glimpse of this message last VMworld when the Photon platform was first discussed. We got more of it this VMworld, and hints that even more will come out at VMworld Barcelona 2016. In effect, VMware is saying that it has the onramp to the cloud regardless of where you are in your journey. VMware is also stating that it provides the underlying security required for enterprise-class applications when using containers and virtual machines, and in any cloud.
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