VMworld 2016 – Quick Takes on the Event and Announcements Part 1 of 2
Much like we’ve seen in recent VMworld events, there is a notable shift from launching platform releases during the event. Past VMworld events often features the announcement of something which is “available now for download”. This can be a dangerous precedent because of the tight coupling of product releases to event dates. Using dates and working backwards to develop features is well known as an easy way to make bad products.
VMware is moving back to some of their roots of trying to evolve themselves, as well as the industry, and has also poured more funding into R&D in the recent quarters as noted in their financial reporting.
Cloud Foundation – Preparing for the Inevitable
My favourite thing to watch over the years of my career is the rush of pundits to call the death of the private cloud. I’m long on private cloud, and have been a private cloud advocate for many years. VMware has clearly not seen the uptake on the vCloud product line due to its complexity to deploy and manage.
Cloud Foundation has the potential to answer the challenges that have been in front of both VMware and its customers in seeking a more cloudy approach to on-premises IaaS management and consumption. It also opens the door to the hybrid cloud approach with a single method to deploy, and multiple targets to land the workloads on.
I did have to chuckle a little when I saw the phrase “we are making private clouds easy” in the keynote. The reason that is funny to me is that there are probably well over a dozen vendors who have been doing that for a decade. Everyone needs to switch their tagline to “doing as much as we can to make private cloud somewhat easier”.
VIC and VIO
vSphere Integrated Containers (VIC) and VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO) also got some more updates. VIO has now caught up to the most recent release of OpenStack (Mitaka) and continues to be a growing area within the VMware customer ecosystem. Whether VIO was a “me too” offering at the start or not, it does seem to be answering the needs of many VMware customers. OpenStack adoption in any form is something that I promote. I’m a huge advocate for OpenStack, and as long as we see any growth of the platform, it’s positive IMHO.
VIC is still at that interesting stage of being in year 2 of being featured at the keynote, yet we aren’t seeing an available SKU to purchase the product. VIC is in public beta at the moment. My thought is that VMware are treading carefully to make sure that they properly integrate containers into their overall offering to make sure that they look for the ideal merger of commercial benefit, and technical capability.
With Docker, Rocket, and LXC seeing strong uptake in development-focused environments, the writing is on the wall that the enterprise customers are going to be bringing these platforms on board in the coming months. The only question is whether VMware customers span a variety of personas, and I would say that many VMware customers are not the typical target for VIC and VIO at this point in time. That will change soon, though.
HCI Focus and the VVD
VMware Validated Designs have been something that came out recently and could be a very positive move for VMware. By releasing reference implementations and reference architectures, it allows us to move a little more into guided deployment rather than relying on searching out the HCL (Hardware Compatibility List) and piecing together the physical components in hopes of finding a working deployment. the VVD approach ensures that we get the interoperability between components and have the backing of the vendors going into it.
HCI (Hyperconverged Infrastructure) is all the rage lately. Nutanix led the charge with this approach for the most part, and as we saw SimpliVity, Scale Computing, and others begin to fill out the HCI portfolio in the industry, it was no surprise that VMware and many others will have to follow suit.
The vSphere + VSAN + vRealize + NSX bundling has the potential to become a significant portion of the HCI market. With as many customers as VMware has, it really is a rather strong entry point opportunity for them. When McDonald’s once added pizza to their menu, they immediately became the largest pizza vendor in the world.
Holding the title of the most customers on HCI is really only one part of the story. It’s a very large industry and we have room for everyone. My opinion is that we need to stop arguing over who got their first and just solve customer challenges with all of our solutions which is the real reason each company got started.
Announcements about Announcements
By decoupling releases from the event, it also means that we can see a lot of announcements which are “looking forward” without having to speak to release dates other than “coming soon”. Soon is a very wishy-washy term that allows us to avoid commitment of dates.
Last year saw the announcement of Photon, VIC, and more. This year saw the announcement of Photon and VIC and more. The trend of making big announcements at shows is not new. The trend of making announcements year after year is not new either, but becomes a bit of a challenge for customers and shareholders. Showing big innovation without landing the products can lead to customers sitting back and waiting much more than they normally would. It also means that shareholders who seek continuous growth and innovation may begin to pull back.