#VMworld Europe General Session: Tech in the Age of Any

During this years VMworld intro the message was quite clear. It’s not just about the technology, it’s about the people.

“Make your mark”

14.000 attendees made their way this year to Barcelona, which is an increase of 2000 people compared to last year. Please be aware of that this summary here consists out of information extracted from the general session & my personal opinions.

For the 8th time in Barcelona Pat Gelsinger, just voted to one of the best CEOs in the US, told us more about VMware’s vision, strategy & the current state.

To be honest: The strategy has been clear for a couple of years now:

Any device, Any Application, Any cloud

Tech in the Age of Any has been the theme for this years general sessions. The tech industry in kind of exploding, which leads to a big problem:

Choice & Complexity

“The strength lays in the power of differences and not similarities.” (Stephen Covey)

The digital life has changed the way people interact with each other. In the end we & the business don’t really care about the infrastructure. We care (or at least we should care) about how to utilize all the computing & data in the world to create applications that create a proper value.

The situation is clear: VMware wants to (or must) evolve from being an IT infrastructure company to become THE platform for next gen applications.

The big challenge which I have also observed in multiple medium- and larger sized enterprises: The business & developer don’t care about the underlying infrastructure technology. They want to use specific services that fits exactly their needs (e.g. requiring a specific Oracle database; access to S3 storage).

And VMware’s strategy has two core pillars:

  • Initiative 1: Establishing Kubernetes (K8s) as the application platform by having an easy transition to & management of modern cloud native applications
  • Initiative 2: A consistent & standardized cloud foundation – having the same technology stack on-prem and off-prem (within a hyperscaler like AWS or a VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP) Partner)

More clouds don’t bring more simplicity, they create more complexity. Technologist who master multi-cloud will own the next decade.

What is the implication of the business needs? The more consistent the operations model across multiple cloud is, the more efficient companies will be able to run their IT in a secure manor.

Initiative 1: Establishing Kubernetes in the enterprise

I am doing architecture & delivery in certain enterprises across multiple verticals. And in all cases you see the break between a developers request & the delivery of the IT-team. To break down or bridge these silos Kubernetes has been created 6 years ago within Google. The idea of Kubernetes is to have proper API-driven & descriptive way to interact with the infrastructure & therefore orchestrate applications created on top of Kubernetes.

Quoting one of the founder Joe Beda – who is now part of the VMware heptio acquistions – ‘Kubernetes is commonly called container orchestration. But its really more like improvisational jazz‘.

Flexibility & Complexity at the same time is the big problem here (and we didn’t even mentioned security here). VMware wants to get to a state that the complexity of Kubernetes can be reduced.

VMware acquired a lot of companies in the container world: Bitnami, Pivotal & Heptio. With these acquisitions VMware has suddenly become one of the highest contributor in the Kubernetes space.

VMware has announced 3 projects that support their cloud-native initiative.

Project Tanzu Mission Control: Manage all Kubernetes in every location from a dedicated control plane.

Project Pacific:  Build Kubernetes into vSphere as a cluster feature with vSphere.NEXT

Project Galleon: A customized Bitnami catalog which is an enterprise grade catalog for applications.

All of these solutions are currently in a closed Beta and are heavily tested within SAP which is in the middle of the transformation to become a SaaS company.

Initiative 2  – Cloud Foundation

How to run & manage the multi cloud? The big problem is, that the cloud is not a single ‘place’. It is more like a distributed system with inconsistent operation models. Businesses choose the proper cloud based on their specific needs.

These differentiation in multiple clouds, regions, availability zones increases the complexity for us architects.

How can we reduce the complexity? The answer is to hav a proper standardization (by automation) in place that can be operated homogeneously.

Bringing the VMware SDDC stack to all cloud providers and hyperscalers and interconnect them with HCX will simplify the creation of a true hybrid cloud. Therefore we might be able to easily bring our vSphere environment that is running the business applications closer to a services within the cloud (e.g. for big data or machine learning).

Having announced that the VMware stack cannot just be utilized by one of the 4000 VMware Cloud Provider Program Partner, but also from the big ones like Amazon AWS, IBM Cloud, Microsoft Azure*, Oracle*, Google Cloud* (*announced).

How will the IT landscape look like in the next years?

  1. We will have modern apps created & running via K8s.
  2. We will have legacy (I am still searching for a better word than legacy) applications in place running on Windows or Linux. 
  3. We will see applications running on ARM based CPUs
  4. We will see Mainframes.

Diversity is the key, complexity is the consequence. Companies & New talents in companies will change the way IT works.

The decision will not be to migrate vs modernize – it will be migrate & modernize. In certain & many scenarios it would never been economical feasible to replace business critical applications with a cloud native approach.

VMware’s hybrid cloud idea with using the Cloud Foundation at the hyperscalers helps customers to differentiate properly between migrate & modernize while still shifting to the Cloud.

I am really curious and excited about the future. Our job has changed in the past and will change even more in the future. Instead of installing things and getting things up and running we will be more and more needed to extract the proper business requirements & build the best-fitting solution out of a variety on solutions on the market. For sure there will be drawbacks with certain products and missed expectations – but that’s life & evolution – Today I truly believe that VMware is moving in the right directions. A thought I honestly didn’t had during VMworld 3 years ago.

There was never been a more important time to be a technologist is a strong  and great statement

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