Former blogger Brian Madden brings VMware Workspace ONE message to Toronto customers

Madden talks with ChannelBuzz about the elements of VMware end-user computing technology that made him decide to work for the company, and how the company has fundamentally altered its strategy to deal with today’s market opportunities.

Brian Madden, EUC Office of the CTO, VMware

TORONTO – Longtime technology blogger and comparatively recent VMware executive Brian Madden was in Toronto Monday, talking with customers about VMware’s changing role, product portfolio and strategy in the end-user computing [EUC] space. Madden, whose title is simply EUC Office of the CTO, moved to VMware because of his enthusiasm for how VMware Workspace ONE broadens out the company’s EUC strategy, and gives it the ability to cast a much wider shadow than has traditionally been possible in the space.

After taking a voluntary sojourn of 18 months from the technology industry, Madden cut his beard and made his return to the blogger/analyst world at the IGEL Disrupt event in Austin a year ago, where he bumped into Shawn Bass, VMware’s CTO – an encounter which led to Bass becoming his boss.

“Shawn has two roles – the actual technology vision role of a CTO where is he is responsible for our long-term strategy and vision, and talking with people about the vision,” Madden said. “When we talked at the IGEL conference, I was impressed by the company’s vision, but it wasn’t a story that was widely known because aside from himself, there was no one to tell the story. What I do is take a lot of the public stuff off his plate. My role is to talk to the market. I spend about three-quarters of my time talking with customers and partners, and a quarter of it sharing the feedback from those talks with the product groups at VMware.”

Madden was in Toronto Monday speaking at a lunch and learn with 70 registered guests, as well as two customer meetings. After the second one, at a dinner, he jumps on a plane to Montreal, and starts the cycle again there tomorrow.

“I have talked directly with 152 customers in 10 months,” he said. “I was more concerned at first about the feedback part to the product managers. When I talked with Sean about the job, he emphasized that the feedback part was important. That wasn’t really my thing. But two months later, after I had met with thirty customers, it became very easy.”

Madden said he hadn’t had an issue with the other part of the transition – moving from the impartial umpire job of an independent blogger and analyst, to a VMware employee and advocate for their technology.

“My boss made it very clear to me when I was hired that they wanted me to be me,” he said. “There have been no issues at VMware of anyone trying to edit me. I write a blog on the VMware Tech Zone site, where I have the full keys to the blog. I post and it goes live without having to go through an editor. It’s also important to note that I didn’t join VMware to try and make them look awesome. I joined VMware because I thought they already looked awesome.”

The key point, Madden stressed, is that VMware today has changed a great deal from what it used to be.

“VMware is a very different company than it was five years ago,” he said. “I wouldn’t have worked there then, nor would they have hired me. Today, with VMware Workspace ONE, we want to focus on what we do best, and let our different partners focus on what they do best. We focus on the platform.”

Madden said that VMware emphasizes that VMware Workspace ONE as a platform supports all different types of operating systems and devices.

“That’s true, but I tend to emphasize different things when I talk with customers,” he said. “It’s great that we support all these things, but it’s 2019. Those are now table stakes. People expect that you can support all scenarios. I don’t get excited about that. Where I get most excited is what we can do with it, manage all devices in a single platform, and the data that we can collect with that. Workspace ONE Intelligence gathers that intelligence, and people don’t appreciate just how huge that amount of data is. There’s also an API and a SDK in the Intelligence platform. We have a Workspace ONE Trust Network in beta. With this, we go out to many security endpoint vendors, all collecting metrics. Why do they all need to have agents on laptops? We can extend Workspace ONE’s capabilities to provide them with this data. They may be doing more advanced analytics with it than VMware, but  we give them the raw data for that. Workspace ONE doesn’t even have to know how the trust scoring works. It just provides a score and builds it into conditional access.”

Some of these frameworks are updated reworkings of old ones. The Workspace ONE Trust Network, for example, is an expansion in both numbers and scope of the AirWatch Mobile Security Alliance. However, Madden said that doing more things with more partners makes a huge difference in what is possible.

“For example, we can now know in real time that a vulnerability was announced four seconds ago, and that a specific customer might have 930 specific devices vulnerable. Press a button, and it’s fixed. For me, these are the kinds of things that are most exciting. It’s what you can do when you open up a platform and extend it to third parties.”

This model means that VMware collaborates with everybody.

“I’ve been working with Citrix technology for 20 years, and I still love Citrix, but VMware works with Citrix as well in some areas, like jointly validating Citrix on the VMware Cloud in AWS,” Madden said. “We partner with companies like Okta, who are competitors, around Identity-as-a-Service. We run VMware Horizon on Azure and AWS, and we sold off the part of the business that directly competes with them. The Horizon Cloud runs on Azure. There’s no vSphere underneath it.”

Madden said that VMware Workspace ONE can also transcend the great historical limitation of VDI, that it only addresses a small percentage of the market, something that is unlikely to change drastically.

“Remote Windows delivery is probably only five per cent of the end user compute market,” he stated. “The rest is physical Windows laptops and physical Mac laptops, and Workspace ONE is able to manage those. What I wrote in my book The VDI Delusion still holds in 2019, and is something I have been consistent on both inside VMware and outside VMware. It’s very important to have VDI as part of a portfolio, but it’s not right for every scenario, and the use cases for it are likely not more than 10 per cent of the market. Workspace ONE looks at all types of use cases and devices. If you want to use Windows locally on a laptop, we can manage that as well – so we don’t have to rely on VDI as much. There are better ways to manage devices in the field that don’t use VDI. That doesn’t mean VDI failed. Two-door hatchbacks only have a five per cent share of the market, but there are plenty of use cases for them. Where VDI makes sense, it makes a lot of sense, and its growth doesn’t have to be big to make it very successful.”

In contrast, Madden said that Microsoft reworking Windows management in Windows 10 opens up a very big market for VMware.

“The traditional ways of managing Windows devices are old,” he said. “Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager is 25 years old. Active Directory is 20 years old. These were designed when Windows sat in a box on a desk, and were designed for a 40 hour work week with lots of time for IT to fix things. It was still okay until mobile devices came out. Phones are easy to manage. One human can manage 10,000 phones, while with a desktop, it’s more like 300-1, because the phone updating of policies is automated. Windows doesn’t do this. So the industry went to Microsoft and asked them to fix it. Microsoft Managed Desktop actually came out in Windows 8, but nobody used it, or 8.1, so Windows 10 is actually the third iteration of it. Microsoft changing this was a great thing for companies like VMware, because it reset the clock to allow looking at new ways for managing Windows. Workspace ONE does this, as it allows moving beyond PC lifecycle management.”

That being said, it’s not a slam-dunk to get customers to accept this kind of change, Madden said.

“Almost every customer wants to do this in principle, but it gets difficult in practice,” he said. “Macs are different than Windows. Even engineers who design virtual desktops are separate teams from those who manage physical desktops. We are early in the stage where people are starting to learn that its possible to manage everything from a single platform. We are bucking a trend that is 25 years in the making. It’s a long journey to get there.”

The good news for VMware channel partners is that Workspace ONE should open up new opportunities, Madden said.

“The Workspace ONE platform provides the raw ingredients – but it will be the partners, VARs and SIs, who will build on them, with best practices,” he indicated. “It’s all about the ingredients, and with the APIs and SDKs, partners can take it to the next level. The partner opportunity here is even better than it has been.”