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VMworld EU 2015 Buzz: VMware CTO Panel – CTO6630

Adding some more colour to the highlights from my VMworld Europe 2015 coverage:

Guido Appenzeller – Chief Technology Strategy Officer of Networking & Security, VMware, Inc.
Joe Baguley – CTO EMEA, VMware
Paul Strong – VP & CTO Global field, VMware

Ray O’Farrell was sick so couldn’t make it, hope he gets well!

My notes, hard to encapsulate as it was a pretty broad discussion!

Paul Strong led the panel and went through each CTO and asked about their role

Guido: NSX.

Joe: EVO:Rail, IoT and unikernels

Paul: Connecting R&D to partners and customers. integration back into R&D

Guido: Networking previously virtually integrated (same stack) unlike servers. Networking sales model changing to be like servers.

Local switching is easy, future is all about global connectivity with security built in.

Joe: talking about second effect, for example having virtualised networking, what will that mean, like cars being the enabler for Walmart which couldn’t exist without people being able to drive to out of town Walmarts yet the invention of the car couldn’t have predicted Walmart.

Joe also looks at taking new technology and fit it into correct process vs. changing processes to use new technology

Paul – evolution of technology and how it intersects with buiness and life. being able to move things around within the network from center to edge to other clouds.

What excited Joe about VMware? Great people and even back then 4.5 years ago was amazed how VMware was filled with experts in distributed systems.

Software defined decision making talked about, VMs coming together or moving apart based on what they do at particular times.

The “One Cloud” branding is about single operational management not necessarily using only a single cloud.

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Joe talked about a hackathon he worked with the UK retailer Sainsbury’s where he really drove home the idea of hackathons and innovation. Sainsbury’s put up signs in each store inviting people to take part so not just targeting existing developers. They had a wide ranging group of people from truck drivers and shelf stackers who had ideas and had done some coding in their spare time. The whole board was there to see what this hackathon thing was about. Once some of the ideas had been coded and shown, they were asked, when could this be put into production? Two days was the response which freaked out the IT department! The point is DevOps can be far reaching and getting into a mindset of continuous delivery means everyone needs to be onboard.

Also talk about eBay using NSX and containers together as they have such massive scale they run out of IP addresses and need NSX to solve this with the way you can create multiple networks with the same range.

Paul also talked about innovation being a numbers game that you need to be able to try different things but the challenge is how to bias your organisation to take advantage of the numbers

Lots of talk about embracing failure, Quote: “Failure is the currency with which you acquire knowledge”. Start with not punishing failure but always honestly learning from it

VMware is working hard to make installation of its software easier, EVO:RAIL and EVO:SDDC are examples of this. More work being done with the new vRealize Automation 7.

VMware says its competition is the user experience that clouds provide, they need to be able to offer a better experience.

I asked about whether customers are going to be willing to pay VMware for cloud native application and use the Photon Platform when they don’t need HA/DRS and can just use bare metal or any other cloud.

Answers from all three CTOs were that VMware is still the best platform for CNAs, provides better isolation than native containers and better networking with NSX. Guido said you need to consider network security as well as containers really needing to run in VMs for isolation. Paul and Joe talked about vSphere being the interconnection between developers who want to just see a Docker API vs infrastructure people who need to manage the storage, network, security, some availability etc. at the back end. Photon Platform is this, giving both sides what they want. I’m starting to soften my stance on the relevance of VMware in a cloud native apps world where enterprises are really struggling with DevOps. They want to be the bridge between IT and developers. Developers point their tools to Docker for example which is abstracted on vSphere infrastructure with vSphere Integrated Containers or Photon Platform. IT can look after this platform and provide the important bits of security, availability, connectivity etc. underneath and have the same management overview for both sides with a common infrastructure that developers can consume like any cloud. Containers in VMs on vSphere are way better than containers on bare metal, the short version!

Time will tell whether this is true, will these lacking features present themselves in bare metal containers but for now I do actually think VMware has a good story to avoid another silo and provide great infrastructure in a developer friendly consumable format.

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