VMworld 2016 Reflection From Attendee

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VMworld 2016 Reflection from Attendee

VMWorld 2016 has come and gone. I decided to wait at least a week before settling in with my impressions this time – and for good reason. I was close to a lot of what was to be announced this year and wanted to make sure I took the time to really digest what we saw.


VMWorld 2016 was typical of what I call “off-year” technology conferences. There were no major upgrades to core VMware products, no major changes in direction. Instead, there were product announcements and technology previews aimed at shoring up and extending existing capabilities while highlighting key partners. These years are typical of the company positioning itself for major product announcements that will most likely happen next year. That stated, what was announced might have seemed small in terms of big bang, but they were also important indicators of where we may be headed.


There were three major announcements that happened this year:

  1. VMware Cloud Foundation™ and Cross-Cloud Architecture
  2. NSX comes to the Cloud
  3. Docker gets embraced through Enhanced Container Services


The first of these was arguably as important of an announcement for VMware partner IBM as it was for VMware. Quoting from the official press release: “IBM is the first VMware vCloud Air Network partner delivering new offerings based on VMware Cloud Foundation with its VMware Cloud Foundation™ on IBM Cloud offering.” As the first company to embrace and deploy Cloud Foundation, IBM positions itself to be first to market with a Hybrid Cloud capability that enables VMware customers to easily extend their existing vSphere deployments into their SoftLayer Cloud Data Centers and manage them as a single unit with the same tools. With this, the VMware based Hybrid Cloud comes to life as a viable and easily obtained solution for almost any organization. And while IBM is the first partner (even before vCloud Air), the press release makes it clear they will most certainly not be the last. “VMware Cloud Foundation™ will be available on additional public clouds, including vCloud Air, in the future.” VMware clearly intends to develop an ecosystem and marketplace of Cloud services vendors.


Since their acquisition of Nicera, VMware has continued to push the envelope forward in the SDN space with VMware NSX. It’s growth and acceptance in the market has been remarkable, and it is clear that what is now NSX has benefitted from VMware’s ability to make incredibly complex and powerful technology impressively simple to deploy and use. NSX has always been capable of going beyond VMware because of its history as a product. Rather than leave that as a legacy feature, VMware has done the polar opposite. NSX is coming to the Cloud and will provide seamless support for not just vSphere, but eventually all major Cloud services providers – starting with Amazon. This underpins VMware’s ideology of any VM running anywhere and opens the door to managing a hybrid Cloud network across all VMware and other systems as a single entity. While still in early stages, there is huge potential here. Clients I spoke with are already licking their chops to get involved with this program as soon as they can.


Last but not least, Docker is for real in the world of VMware. With the addition of VMware Integrated Containers, users of Docker are able to work seamlessly within a vSphere based environment. Now the question of “Container vs. VM” becomes less relevant and arguably becomes something that is no longer the correct question to ask. Docker fans get to work their way within a vSphere based Cloud.


What does this mean for vendors and partners? Walking the trade show floor, I saw again much of the same thing that I’ve seen at every VMWorld I’ve been to. Some vendors are clearly poised to take advantage of what’s ahead. Their booths were also well attended and products were clearly aligned to ride the wave of announcements and stated direction from VMware as a leader in this space. Unfortunately, for others, not so much. While this always happens, for the first time this year I was not frustrated by the lack of vision. Instead, I felt sorry for them. I would really hate to be a vendor (no matter how big or small) on the trade show floor showing something I thought was innovative and new that was really a re-packaging of legacy tools, or demonstrated clearly how I was not aligned with the sea changes happening in the IT world with respect to how systems will be conceived of, deployed, and managed. I know that several of these vendors will not be around next year, and while that’s a disappointment, it is the way of things in the world of business.


Ironically, the biggest thing to disappoint me this year was that there was no VMWorld 2016 T-Shirt in my conference backpack. So, to the person that got 2 “Size Large” T-Shirts in their backpack, count yourself as blessed through the involuntary donation of mine.


We certainly have much to look forward to over the next year. Things are not slowing down a bit and we are all the better for it. I look forward to seeing you all throughout the year and at VMWorld 2017. I’m sure we’re in for a “big bang” of new core products and capability.

Chris Williams

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