VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger Describes The Virtualization Giant's New Mission To Be A Multi-Cloud Lynchpin

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger laid out a roadmap Monday for how the virtualization leader will establish itself as a leading purveyor of broad hybrid cloud capabilities through an expanding portfolio of management tools, security features and strategic partnerships.

In a keynote kicking off the VMworld conference in Las Vegas, Gelsinger (pictured) showcased products and partnerships intended to cement his company's hold on the corporate data center while expanding its position into the public cloud.

The strategy to "bring all the pieces together" would be executed across several fronts, Gelsinger said.

[Related: Q&A: VMware Executive Tom Corn On How AppDefense Will Lock Down Security At The Virtualization Layer]

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It starts with making private clouds even easier to use. The next step is entering deep partnerships with major cloud providers, like AWS and IBM, and expanding the VMware Cloud Partner Network. Complementing those efforts is an expanding portfolio of native cloud services and management tools that bridge the public cloud-private cloud divide.

The goal, said Gelsinger, is to give customers access to their apps from any device and modality, through the usage model of their choice.

VMware's traditional private cloud business has become stronger through the latest iterations of its core platforms, like vSphere and vSan storage, along with the EVO:Rail hyper-converged infrastructure. Those products are making private clouds more powerful and easier to deploy, according to Gelsinger.

But enterprises are increasingly moving toward a multi-cloud future, and VMware's landmark relationship with AWS squarely addresses that trend.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy joined Gelsinger on stage to highlight how the companies together are delivering on their promise to no longer force customers to choose between the two popular environments.

"This really is the ultimate hybrid solution that we developed together," Gelsinger said.

The joint offering made available Monday after months of suspense, VMware Cloud on AWS, enables the seamless transition of VMware environments to the world's largest public provider. VMware customers can enjoy the tools and environment they are familiar with, while still being able to shut down their data centers eventually.

"You don’t have to adopt a brand new operating model for your on-premises infrastructure … just to get consistency between your on-premises and your cloud environments," Jassy told VMware partners.

"You can use vCenter and the same tools you're used to running your infrastructure and run those easily alongside AWS," he said.

And the service is "much more cost effective" than rival hybrid options on the market, the AWS CEO claimed.

A crop of large systems integrators will be first to bring the service to market: Accenture, Deloitte, Ahead, Presidio, Datapipe, Rackspace and several others.

But the service will continue to expand in both its capabilities and channel strength. The "engineering teams, marketing teams, are really just scratching the surface of what we're going to do together," Gelsinger said.

VMware's hold on the hybrid cloud is being cemented by a priority on delivering management tools that span environments, such as Workspace ONE for app and device management.

That platform encompasses AirWatch, which "began as a journey with Apple and iOS," Gelsinger said, before the mobility platform ultimately expanded with deals with Samsung to support Android, then Microsoft and Dell EMC.

"Today we are broadening the world's broadest ecosystem," he said, welcoming onto the stage HP CEO Dion Weisler. Gelsinger and Weisler announced Workspace ONE will be incorporated into HP Inc. devices.

VMware has also been busy "stretching NSX into the public cloud," he said of the software-defined networking product, "making it connective tissue" for the Internet of Things.

"NSX is becoming the secret sauce behind almost everything we do. What vSphere was to the first 20 years of VMware, NSX is becoming for the next decade or two," Gelsinger said. "If you're not using it today, you're already behind."

Tying it all together is security, Gelsinger told attendees.

A highlight of this year's conference is the debut of a novel new security offering called AppDefense that locks down applications at the virtualization layer.

Robert Villalta, a solutions architect for Technologent, a VMware partner based in Irvine, Calif., said he was surprised to see the camaraderie on the stage between Jassy and Gelsinger, which made clear to him both companies are "all in" on their partnership.

"The details on how it will all work are slowly trickling out throughout out the deep dive sessions, but I think it will be of great interest to existing VMware customers and admins having the familiar interfaces to manage the environment," Vallalta told CRN.

Security was a prominent theme across all the major topics Gelsinger mentioned in his keynote, Vallalta noticed. Another takeaway was Gelsinger positioning NSX as "the focal point for the next couple of years."