Best of

VMworld 2018

Top Takeaways From VMworld 2018

VMware makes money, is involved in a variety of segments, goes to the heart of IT, has exciting products and has the potential to drive digitization in the EU. The “old” VMware of server virtualization has long since evolved into the new Switzerland of the IT world. We’ll take a closer look at VMware’s impressive development, as illustrated at the VMworld 2018 in Barcelona.

VMworld EMEA 2018: A shining example of VMware’s growth

What initially began more or less as an internal VMware get-together has since evolved into an industry event of the highest standards. Marking what was essentially the 20th birthday, almost 13,000 participants flocked to Barcelona, while twice as many attended the parallel event in the United States. VMware is still the main host, but the sheer numbers and fascinating mix of exhibitors populating the Solution Exchange – or joining VMware up on stage in IBM’s case – is always a jaw-dropping experience. Where else would hardware enthusiasts find Dell, EMC, HPE, IBM, Lenovo and NetApp etc. standing together in perfect harmony, or fans of the public cloud be able to visit Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, AWS and OVH? Joining them also are innumerable security and backup providers, as well as lots of newcomers and established vendors in the fields of DevOps, Kubernetes/containers, (hybrid) cloud management, security tools and plenty of other areas  ... At the center of it all is VMware. They say that a vendor’s ecosystem is crucial to its success. And VMware has something equivalent to Apple’s App Store.

À propos the ecosystem: VMware’s internal IT is not only O2-neutral – two years ahead of schedule – it is also working on a benchmark architecture for community micro-grids called RIAPS (Resilient Information Architecture Platform for Smart Grid). The idea is to create a smart, decentralized power supply that can deliver electricity acquired from renewables to neighborhoods or even entire cities. Key elements in this development are the VMware Cloud Foundation and the brand-new VMware blockchain (project: Concord). VMware ESXi (a hypervisor based on the VMkernel operating system) mounted on Raspberry PI could make an exciting contribution here as well.

Scope of the VMware solutions: A broad-based, virtual shopping mall

Now gigantic, extremely diversified and simply good. What was once the vSphere-only software vendor has since become a virtual, well-integrated shopping mall providing solutions for data centers and their expansion into the public cloud, as well as products for end user computing. All of it comes with built-in security and is nevertheless wrapped up in plenty of versatility for combinations with many of the vendors attending the conference.

The principal components in all of this are still the VMware technologies that transform customer data centers into “public clouds”, which means the consistent and highly automated virtualization of networks, storage and computer resources with built-in security. Despite all the hype around AWS, Azure & co. – in which 30% growth rates are already seen as low performers – the public cloud market, in terms of sheer numbers, is nothing compared to the private cloud market, so customer data centers. This is the area in which a large proportion of the IT budget is still invested. And who rules the roost there? VMware with its vSphere-centric products. vSphere itself has a share of the server virtualization market that is way above 80%, making it the de facto standard.

VMware Cloud Foundation

Among the items announced at VMworld was the VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) in version 3.5, accompanied by the news that hardware vendors would offer Ready Nodes (pre-configured and validated modules to reduce the risks of provisioning, improve storage efficiency and to make storage scalable when necessary). As a solution stack, VCF includes vSphere, vSAN and NSX. VCF – also combined with the vRealize solution stack – is yet another example of the motto applied by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger “to ruthlessly automate everything” based on virtualized resources. This extends from the operational and lifecycle management levels to the digitization of as many processes as possible.

vCloud Suite Platinum and AppDefense

What else was important here? Security! VMware just recently published an article in October 2018 on attempts that are under way to consolidate the number of security providers used within the company and instead to add security elements to the existing VMware products. So the VMworld also featured an announcement of the vCloud Suite Platinum, which adds AppDefense to the functions of the familiar vCloud Suite. AppDefense applies an interesting security approach. The product “understands” the normal state and normal behavior of a workload and only triggers alarms when there is a risk of deviating from this normal state. Traditional security products hunt for malicious attacks originating outside the system.

VMware comes from the opposite side and responds to deviations in workloads – sometimes by deploying automated responses (e.g. moving items to a sandbox). For customers that do not use the vCloud: The whole thing is available in a downsized version in vSphere Platinum. Integration in NSX is possible for both options.

Public cloud with VMware

Public cloud with VMware? Not a problem either. VMware partners with local hosting companies – in Germany alone there are several thousand providers that offer their services to customers using VMware as the technological basis, among them many prestigious SAP or telcos hosting companies. Then came the issue of VMware Cloud Foundation on IBM Cloud (aka IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions, a product that is sold via IBM (partners)) and the, um, moderately successful proprietary public cloud offering vCloud Air, which has since been sold on to OVH (according to its own homepage: An international hyperscale cloud provider – The number 1 in Europe) and that is still available for use there, largely unchanged.

But a quick side-note about IBM. They just recently bought Red Hat for more than 30 billion dollars and promptly announced that they are now the hybrid cloud leaders. Will the VMware/IBM partnership continue nonetheless? Yes. IBM even joined VMware up on stage and announced new, collaborative projects like ways to integrate VMware workloads within IBM even faster and with better automation, which would improve the security as well. For the nervous souls reading this article: Availability when using the IBM Cloud Private Hosted rises to 99.9999%. (Dr.) Watson is always included in IBM solutions, of course, and VMware has announced plans to integrate IBM’s AI within its customer service portals. Last but not least, VMware and IBM are also founding a “Joint Innovation Lab” to drive other collaborative projects. Coopetition at its best!

VMware and Microsoft

Many were expecting further announcements from the collaboration with Microsoft, especially as Microsoft Azure returned as official sponsor of VMworld after quite a few years of absence. But: There was no news to report. The existing collaboration in enterprise mobility management (Intune and AirWatch), as well as the VMware workspace solution that also runs on Azure – and which analysts have classified as enterprise-ready – remain as almost the only evidence of collaboration.

VMware Cloud on AWS

Things were a little livelier, louder and more topical in the collaboration with AWS: In future, VMware Cloud on AWS will be offered in every region worldwide. And this means for Europe: Frankfurt and London are already live, Dublin, Paris and Stockholm will be coming soon to join their many fellow cities in America and Asia/Australia – so both companies are taking things very seriously indeed.

Customers were immediately interested – as shown by the rapid rise in productive deployment. The reasons couldn’t be simpler or easier to understand. For vSphere customers, VMware Cloud on AWS is by far the most hassle-free access to public cloud resources – and they don’t even need to make significant investments in technical cloud know-how, initially at least, because identical and consistent, virtual hardware resources are already available all round: vSphere, vSAN and network virtualization in NSX for transmission and compliance with security policies. AWS contributes the physical infrastructure, VMware the solution stack and support. So it’s the ideal gateway to the lively world of the public cloud. And customers can cut their expenses even more as well, namely on the costs of migrating to the cloud. It takes time to make current workloads cloud-ready. In contrast, VMware Cloud on AWS and the Hybrid Cloud Extension option enable the migration of current VMware workloads from the organization’s data center in no time at all.

VMware vRealize and Cloud Health

VMware is also well-equipped for the cross-platform management of cloud workloads in Google, AWS, and Azure etc. For this area it has the management tools from the vRealize and Cloud Health Technologies family, which analysts already claim are leading the field. “Normal” workloads or containers – VMware is equipped for both. In 2017 came the announcement of a collaboration with Google and the sister firm Pivotal to develop PKS (Pivotal Container Services, whereby the “K” stands for Kubernetes), this year the news that VMware is taking over Heptio. And anyone who is largely unfamiliar with Heptio should be advised that the owners belong to the group of Kubernetes co-founders. Kubernetes has developed to become almost the open source standard for the orchestration of container applications and is supported today by industry giants like MS Azure and Google Cloud, along with IBM, Oracle and Red Hat.

The memorable bits of the VMworld EMEA: A summary

Like in real life, VMware (as the Switzerland of the IT world) is perfectly positioned to penetrate plenty of growth fields in addition to its core market. Whether in a dedicated data center or in the cloud, containers or normal workloads, servers or desktops and – almost more importantly – in the efficient management and optimization of these heterogeneous cross-cloud environments, VMware is pursuing a grand vision and occupies the market position to make it all come true. Customers that already use VMware products are increasingly shortlisting the company for other digitization projects as well – and the chances of success are certainly promising.

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Marco Vogel

Global Alliance Lead, VMware

Publisher Advisory / VMware

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