Is VMware starting to mean 'legacy'? Down and out in Las Vegas

C'mon, marketing droids, tell me what's new

VMworld I love VMworld, as I do VMware. In the last few years VMworld has been “the IT show” if the infrastructure space is your thing. However, it is clear that something is changing and it is changing very quickly.

Dell-EMC deal

First of all, we are still in the middle of the Dell/EMC acquisition. This obviously doesn’t help; it has been slowing down the whole organization.

Even though this problem will be over in a couple of months, the re-organization process will take time and, as usual, not all key managers will be holding on to their positions.

Both Dell and EMC are very keen in reassuring investors and customers about the post-deal re-organization, products and support but, as we know, there is always an ocean between saying something and doing it.

The golden goose… but for how long?

Don’t get me wrong, VMware is still the golden goose but the competition has changed and is moving quite fast now. All the hype is no longer about virtualization, it’s all about cloud (private, public and hybrid) and containers.

Today VMware announced what we were expecting, with two pieces of news about integrated containers (VIC) and a new version of its integrated open stack (VIO). But that’s it, and it is not enough to raise my excitement level and more importantly the excitement of the end users – nor that of the end users who are already looking at these two technologies ...

Even though VMware started some sort of collaboration with Google on the public cloud front, Amazon and Microsoft have much more interesting stories to tell – stories that customers actually like. And again, partnering with a cloud loser like IBM (from the perception point of view, at least) looks very tactical and not a great long term strategy.

About VIC and VIO

While I have to say that the job they’ve done with VIC and its integration with VRA is admirable, even if you can spot all the flaws (due to its immaturity), there is still a basic unresolved problem.

In fact, the vast majority of end users who are adopting containers are doing so on Linux and they are looking at open source-based platforms for the management (like, for example Kubernets). Most of them are not actually interested in putting containers into a VMware environment. Yes, it could be fine if you have 99 per cent of VMs and a bunch of containers but why pay $5,000-$10,000 per node in licenses to manage containers? It is much easier and cheaper to build a new Linux-based infrastructure from scratch, isn’t it?

It is not unusual now to hear VMware referred to as the “legacy platform” and containers or OpenStack as the new or the future thing.

The clouds

Microsoft, for example, has a complete solution ranging from Windows Server 2016 (with containers) down to Azure PaaS and SaaS. And it promises VMs as well as containers and data mobility.

Google and Amazon, can leverage technologies like Kubernetes to help build a multi-cloud strategy, if not today, It will be ready for tomorrow.

But where is VMware, or Dell or EMC, for what it’s worth? It certainly tried, but its public cloud efforts were ridiculous, with the wrong technology associated with bad execution. Always afraid to step on its partners' toes, or to lose some license sales, or trying to please EMC by using its (wrong) technology.

Now it’s too late, Amazon is winning the first phase of the cloud war hands down with Google and Microsoft as the only credible competitors at the moment. The recent Rackspace acquisition just confirms this scenario.

Another example; think that all, and I do mean all, VMware storage partners, including primary and secondary storage vendors, are implementing solutions to leverage object storage tiering/archiving (on S3 APIs) or DR or else on GCP, AWS and Azure ... one can only imagine how much money VMware (or EMC or Dell) is leaving on the table.

All analysts predict that the overall spending in smaller data centres will shrink in the next few years in favor of larger data centres and IaaS/SaaS. How will it be possible for VMware to stay competitive then? The business will not experience a rapid decline, but it will be hard to see the same level of revenues and growth it's experienced up to now.

Closing the circle

VMware is still a strong company with a lot of faithful/loyal users. But the virtualisation wave has run its course, while cloud and container technology need a different approach or, we could say, a different level of abstraction.

Virtualisation was is all about efficiency and has changed the way we design data centres, but the infrastructure as we know it is still there, and with applications relying on it. Containers and cloud introduce concepts that are all about data and application mobility without caring about the infrastructure which becomes invisible (or transparent, if you like) in the eyes of the applications.

Perhaps one of the mistakes VMware is making is exactly this: they are looking at containers as an infrastructure technology, while it is much closer to applications and developers than they would like to admit. An interesting video recorded yesterday at Tech Field Day shows very well Docker’s point of view about containers.

I do hope I’m totally wrong. Hopefully we will see many more things coming from VMware in the next few months. Perhaps VMworld Europe will save them? ®

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