VMWorld drums up enthusiasm for hybrid cloud

Pat Gelsinger
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. (Image: Stephen Lawson/IDGNS)

The good news is you don't need a new platform

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19 October 2016 | 0

Billy MacInnesAnyone still bemoaning the award of the Nobel prize for literature to Bob Dylan on the grounds that ‘it’s not poetry’ might have been tempted to change their tune if they had attended the keynote at VMWorld Europe on 18 October. Attendees were bombarded by a man versifying on stage, punctuated by strategically timed drum crashes.

Sadly, the drums didn’t drown out the words, so the audience were left to grapple with philosophical puzzlers such as “Which way will tomorrow face?” Thankfully, not for long, with the answer seeming to be wherever they were looking as the poet proclaimed: “You are tomorrow”.

After addressing the assembled throng as “soulful minds, mindful souls”, he departed the stage by concluding with the question: “Which way are you going to face?” For most people, apart from VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, the immediate unspoken answer was “to the stage”. Which must have been a relief for Gelsinger as he strode on stage to deliver his keynote speech, although I did wonder whether he was taking a bit of a risk when he stated “We, together, will face forward”. That’s not really how these things work.

Anyway, Gelsinger’s speech had some interesting detail on VMware’s alliance with AWS, which he described as “the best of both worlds”‘ bringing the leader in private cloud together with the leader in public cloud. Mike Clayville, vice president for commercial sales at AWS, said its customers were “delighted” by the partnership, adding that “it opens up the public cloud to VMware architecture”. From a channel perspective, he added: “The potential for our partners is even more exciting” as it opened up a “whole new revenue engine for them”.

Speaking at a separate press conference later, Jean-Pierre Brulard, senior vice president and general manager EMEA, said the response from VMware partners to the announcement had been “outstanding”. At the same conference, Clayville said the deal was attractive because it enabled customers to use the tools they already had on-premise in the cloud and to exploit the same skill sets and functionality.

Raghu Raghuram, executive vice president and general manager of the software defined data centre division, agreed that it was “critical” that VMware customers were able to use the same tool sets and operational methods in the public cloud.

“Customers do not have to retrain teams to go to a hybrid model,” he said. “They don’t need a new platform.”

The announcement of the partnership with AWS follows an earlier deal with IBM, but Gelsinger ruled out any similar alliances with Microsoft or Google “in the near future”. He appeared to accept that VMware’s own vCloud Air platform would have a limited role in public cloud going forward. While he stressed that “the strategy for vCloud air hasn’t changed” as an incubation environment for large enterprises, he added: “What has changed is our customers are well entrenched using AWS”.

Gelsinger had put that demand for public cloud into perspective earlier when he revealed that cloud had grown from 13% of workloads in 2011 to 27% this year. While the figure in 2011 had been fairly evenly split between public and private, public cloud was beginning to soak up more workloads (15% in 2016). He estimated that cloud would take 50% of workloads by 2021 (30% in public cloud) and public cloud would pass the halfway mark (52%) by 2030.

He said the prospect of greater use of public cloud could leave many IT departments in the worst of all situations: being held responsible for the security and operation of those cloud services but without any control. “In world where you control nothing, you’re in charge,” he warned. Gelsinger pitched it as a clash between freedom and control and compared it to brining up teenagers: “You as a parent want control. Your kids want freedom. Users want the freedom to choose any cloud, service or operation and you are responsible for the control. The hybrid world is about giving freedom and control. It’s like having a teenager you love and like at the same time.”

As the adults of the future, teenagers could be the people that the grammatically suspect tag line for this year’s VMWorld Europe, ‘be_TOMORROW’, is most applicable to. So maybe, if the poet on the stage really wanted to know which way tomorrow will face, he should have asked a teenager.

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