TORONTO — “We are here to show you that we are much more than just a virtualization company,” Dave Schroeder, VMware’s VP of Systems Engineering told 528 of VMware’s Canadian customers at the Toronto Congress Centre on Wednesday. “We are here to provide solutions. We are here to lead you to the digital transformation.”
Schroeder, the lead speaker at the annual vForum event in Toronto, was tasked with articulating VMware’s digital strategy to the Canadian audience, as well as making it clear to them why they should care. He also summed up the related announcements the company made at its VMworld event two months ago, as well as some significant news which was announced more recently.
“At VMworld, our CEO Pat Gelsinger talked about the state of business, and how it is moving out of the information age into digital business where everything is Internet of Things connected and analyzed,” Schroeder told the audience. He emphasized that even as the transition has blurred the lines between traditional and digital businesses, relatively few companies are positioning themselves to take advantage of this.
“Only 20 per cent of all business are leading in digital transformation,” he said. “That’s a great opportunity for you. People are sitting on the sidelines, or are taking an opportunistic approach. They are trying to optimize old practices, and front-end them with more scripting. It doesn’t work. If you ignore digital transformation, you can become irrelevant in a matter of moments. For those willing to push into the leaders category, there’s a lot to be had there. At VMware, we are providing the technology to help you do that.”
Schroeder cited several examples of companies which had leveraged digital technologies to produce disruptive offerings.
“Take Vanhawks, right here in Toronto,” he said. “This company makes smart bicycles, with IP sensors on the handlebars of their bikes. It shows things like what roads to avoid because of construction. This is a consumer industry transforming the bicycle experience – and they are not even a customer. That’s the power of digital transformation. That’s how you delight your customers.”
Schroeder outlined VMware’s methodology for digital transformation, noting that the company has evolved its own thinking here.
“There was a time when we weren’t sure about the public cloud,” he acknowledged. “We have had a couple strategies, some of which have worked and some of which have not. We have determined though that regardless of the digital momentum, the traditional workloads still don’t go away. We have to both support traditional workloads while bridging to cloud-native.”
This providing of bridging technologies is something that VMware has always done, but now they are applying it to cloud as well.
“We are providing bridging technologies, preserving existing assets while enabling transformation,” he said. “This bridging analogy has always been core to our belief, and we will do the same thing with cloud consumption.”
The other elements of VMware’s methodology here include empowering business to innovate across clouds and devices without constraints, and enabling cross-cloud platforms through services to secure and connect applications across clouds.
“We will also simplify the end user experience by providing a unified experience on all apps regardless of device,” Schroeder said. “This idea of connecting ourselves to our customers is critical.”
Finally, Schroeder noted that everything in this process has to be open, because that’s what customers today demand. As a result, their solutions here need to integrate with open frameworks including OpenStack and container technologies.
He acknowledged there are major management challenges in making this kind of cross-cloud strategy work.
“It’s insane to think we will have a single pane of glass across all the clouds,” he said. “That’s not possible.” Instead they need to establish baselines for inventory, to be able to move workloads where needed.
“We also need to provide a cloaking layer across the complexity of all the public cloud noise with a cross-cloud architecture,” Schroeder emphasized. “That’s our strategy.”
Schroeder then drew attention to two key components of that strategy which had been announced at VMworld, VMware Cloud Foundation [VCF] and their cross-cloud architecture.
“VCF is our next-gen hyper-converged infrastructure for building private clouds, and integrating them easily with public clouds,” he said.
“It’s not just a branding,” said Rawlinson Rivera, Principal Architect, Office of the CTO, at VMware. “We deliver vSphere, NSX, and VSAN all through the entire stack, so you can traverse between these clouds, both on-prem and off-prem.”
VCF is deployed on top of the public cloud, with the goal being to implement installations of the entire suite in sub-20 minute installations.
“Partners leverage this technology to help you make the transition to these external cloud environments very simple,” Schroeder told the customers. “IBM has been the leader of our public partnerships as it pertains to VCF. However, we have just announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services [AWS], where we can now put VMware cloud infrastructure on top of that. No longer do we have to work about application compatibility.”
“I did not think that Amazon would allow VMware to have direct access to their hardware,” said Chris McCain, Director of Product Management, Networking and Security at VMware. “This is a huge win for us. The infrastructure they have is phenomenal.”
The other solution announced and previewed at VMworld was VMware’s Cross-Cloud Architecture, designed to make management of public clouds easy and deliver cloud freedom and control.
“It’s a SaaS-based service, which lets people manage and secure applications running across public clouds,” Schroeder said. “We won’t sacrifice security.”
Schroeder explained that VMware’s software defined vision had been in development for four years, and had evolved over that time.
“It used to be one where there was a private cloud built on software-defined, and a public cloud based on software-defined,” he said. “The subtle change is that we have changed from supporting one cloud to supporting any cloud.”
All of this, Schroeder said, creates a clear message for customers.
“We will continue to protect what you have already invested in, but prepare you for the digital transformation going forward,” he said.