I was at VMworld 2015, and watched the keynotes and read the press releases and came away with a pretty good idea of what VMware wants the public to know about going forward. And if I were to sum up what I learned at the show, it would be this: VMware wants you in the cloud, and now.
By Keith Ward
This is a dangerous strategy for VMware. I thought the company did a good job laying out its vision of the Unified Hybrid Cloud platform, and what it could mean for IT. It sounds promising, too -- the ability to move seamlessly and transparently between public and private clouds is fantastic (and yeah, the cross-cloud vMotion demo was awesome). If VMware makes it easier to move on-premises apps to the cloud without a huge amount of disruption, so much the better (although I remain skeptical at how easy this will be).
In addition, VMware EVO SDDC (which replaces, in name at least, EVO:RACK) looks like a strong product. "Software-defined" is the future, and VMware is out in front on it. Doing things in software provides a flexibility and scalability that just can't be matched in the physical world.
My big concern for VMware is one of timing, and where most enterprises are in their transitions to the cloud and software-defined computing. How many of you are still figuring out your private cloud strategy? How many are using public cloud for nothing more than dev testing or similar non-production tasks? My hunch is that most shops are still taking baby steps into the shallow end of the cloud pool, worried about just how cold the water will be when they plunge in.
It's often been said that corporations are years behind -- often 5-to-7 years behind -- the technology curve. Companies often don't move to Windows Server nearly as quickly as Microsoft would like, for example. The same dynamic exists when it comes to virtualization; I'd bet a fair amount of money that the huge majority of datacenters are still running vSphere 5.5 (or 5.0) instead of 6.0.
Eve of Disruption
But that kind of upgrade isn't nearly as ulcer-inducing as re-architecting apps for the cloud or re-thinking your entire networking concepts. In other words, resistance to this kind of change could be greater than the normal "new version of standard infrastructure product is released," which often requires little more than learning a new UI and what apps it might break.
Containers are in a similar boat. There's lots of talk about them, and VMware played them up big time at the show. But again, how many shops are using them in regular, large-scale production? My sense is that it's still a very small percentage. They're being studied, sure, and likely rolled out on a test basis. Major implementations, however, are likely to be pretty far in the future for most companies.
That's how I felt about VMworld 2015: lots of cool stuff was demonstrated in the keynotes, but little that was of immediate practical use. The direction CEO Pat Gelsinger is taking the company seems sensible, in my mind; cloud and software-defined computing and containers are coming, and are the future, and it's good that VMware is getting out on the leading edge of that. But if I'm an admin at the show, and looking for something that will dramatically shape my workday right now, I didn't hear or see much that tickled my itching ears.