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VMworld US 2016 Buzz: My wrap up thoughts + a VMworld Hot or Not

September 20th, 2016

I arrived at VMworld a little sceptical this year. So much is changing in IT, cloud and DevOps is actually delivering the promises of a better way to do things, I wasn’t sure VMware was up to the task of pivoting/extending beyond being the best VM hypervisor/management company around.

Cloud Native

I do see tons of things happening at VMware. Cloud native apps and container management are being worked on furiously as the immediate existential threat to the VM being the unit of IT consumption. Is this enough? Do we need to manage containers as VMs or should we be doing things differently? Squashing your existing applications into containers just as a packaging format and then having to back them up doesn’t really move the needle, you’re just moving the unit of consumption to a container yet with the same “restrictions” you had with your VMs.

It was a real shame Docker wasn’t on stage and relegated to a small booth. Docker has developer mindshare and is dying to get into enterprises, surely VMware and Docker can work together, Microsoft doesn’t seem to have a problem with this.

Although things are moving extremely quickly in IT nowadays, there is very much a long tail because if applications need to be rewritten to take advantage of this cloud native world, it’s not going to happen any time soon.

Yet, because new applications can be written much more quickly and delivered to customers much more quickly, business have more more choice and agility when it comes to changing the software/services they use so that long tail may dwindle quicker than VMware would like.

Does VMware have too much inertia and legacy to truly reinvent (pun intended), the jury is still out? After this week, I haven’t come to any finite conclusions, I haven’t been blown away or truly excited by the announcements, I was disappointed that vSphere Integrated Containers only moved to a more public beta and Photon Platform isn’t out yet. If we have to wait for another year for vSphere 7 to see this, it will be far too long. We shouldn’t even need a separate vSphere for Integrated Containers as well as a Photon Platform, I would hope these would converge and sooner rather than later.

Make the Core Cool Again

The great news is there is a palpable sense VMware is refocusing on the core vSphere and is working hard to make it much more simpler to install and operate as well as integrate more seamlessly. Things like VCSA and Cloud Foundation (think a VMware SDDC  version of Azure Stack) when it grows up a little and actually becomes a cloud are great. VSAN has an excellent future as a platform for storage for many uses cases. I heard from more than one VMware employee that there was a realisation they had become complacent and the company was really pulling together to integrate more to make products easier to consume for customers, good to hear.

Product integration is only part of it though. If you require integration it means there is a separation to begin with and this is what VMware needs to work towards, not just integrating separate products but making them parts of a cohesive whole without so many moving parts. There’s a difference and it needs leadership to make this happen, to be able to release component updates quickly while combining the separate parts but not into a massive mess that you therefore can’t update easily.


Cloud wise, they really are fumbling, way too late to the true cloud game, only really focused on enterprise legacy applications and moving VMs between clouds. Enterprises are getting rid of their on-prem apps and moving whatever they can to SaaS, if they are rewriting apps they should be using PaaS (containers may underpin the PaaS). They shouldn’t be lifting and shifting VMs and saying they are doing “cloud”. SaaS providers unlikely use vSphere. PaaS runs great on vSphere but also runs great on any other cloud. Enterprises will question paying for vSphere when other simpler options are available when the PaaS handles the deployment availability. Saying this, enterprises are going to be very slow to do this so there is a long tail of revenue for VMware but they must know this isn’t a long term strategy and are not going to be future Oracles.

There are plenty of clever people at VMware and a leadership I have faith in, they just need to execute much quicker than they currently are.

My blogging has taken on Chad Sakac verbosity so to summarise:

VMworld Hot

  • The Community
  • Cloud Foundation for a future private cloud
  • NSX seems to be maturing
  • vRealize Network Insight
  • Cross-Cloud Services
  • Much more integration between SDDC components
  • Hyper-Converged
  • Opening Acts
  • VMware Validated Designs
  • VSAN
  • VSAN Analytics
  • The food (way better than Moscone)
  • Portable Snapshots
  • Exoclones
  • Conditional Access
  • Corfu Distributed Shared Log
  • Pat Gelsinger answering questions at vExpert Party
  • IoT
  • VMDK encryption
  • Migrate 2 VCSA
  • VMVillage

VMworld Not

  • Fumbling cloud story, changes every year, at least we have “Any Cloud” rather than “One Cloud”
  • Not many announcements (heard they’re being held back to boost VMworld Europe attendance)
  • Keynotes meh, felt like they were put together by committee
  • Focus on mainly legacy apps, shunting VMs at an IaaS layer between clouds
  • vRealize Automation making progress but still hard and lost features since v6
  • Only 20,000 out of 500,000 customers use vRealize Suite. That’s only 4% of customers using your private cloud product!
  • No Docker on stage, small booth
  • vSphere Integrated Containers only more public beta
  • Photon Platform not released
  • None of the “we are the best place to run PaaS…because…”
  • Very little developer focus, small on-stage demos used the UI!
  • Annoying their partners by all the new cloud stuff only on IBM SoftLayer
  • Still annoying their partners by competing with them with vCloud Air
  • How does Virtustream fit in?
  • Pre-recorded “Live Demos”
  • Not showing off the HTML5 Web Client in the keynote, easy win to play to the ops crowd.

Would love to hear any feedback you have for my VMworld 2016 coverage, always happy to learn and improve.

Thanks for having me VMworld and if you made it this far in my posts, thank you for spending your time!

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