A Brave New World: Pat Gelsinger Leads VMware Into The Multi-Cloud Era

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A Cloud-Spanning Portfolio

Underpinning the current cloud strategy are several products that have thrust VMware practices well beyond implementing the flagship vSphere compute virtualization platform.

In addition to software-defined networking, NSX, and storage, vSAN, VMware's portfolio buildout of recent years has introduced tools for multi-cloud, Internet of Things, mobility and endpoint management, as well as unique security solutions.

In the second fiscal quarter of 2018, bookings for all those ancillary products together for the first time surpassed those for vSphere, lifting earnings beyond Wall Street's expectations and contributing to an upward revision of the revenue forecast to $7.61 billion for the year.

If vSphere was the main selling point over the last two decades, NSX will be for the next decade, Gelsinger told partners at VMworld. The network virtualization technology stemming from the 2012 acquisition of Nicira should be an integral component of their practices, Gelsinger said in his keynote.

AirWatch, another acquisition executed in 2014, yielded a highly-regarded enterprise mobile management solution that has become the cornerstone of VMware's Workspace ONE device management platform.

And with vRealize, an evolution of vCenter Operations Management Suite, VMware extended VM monitoring and management capabilities out of the data center and across public clouds. Those tools are meant to do more than make life easier for administrators of VMware environments—they have strategic significance.

"I think what they want to become is a management layer behind application modernization," Klee said. "They want to be at the app layer. I think they want to get out of the data center, or at least try to abstract the data center away and just be a platform." The new products are guiding the multi-cloud evolution of solution providers that have long focused on implementing vSphere to virtualize data centers.

Robert Villalta, a solutions architect at Irvine, Calif.-based Technologent, while attending sessions and walking the exhibit floor at VMworld was struck by the emphasis VMware is placing on extending partner practices beyond its traditional technologies. "It's always been vSphere at the center. It's no longer vSphere. Yesterday, [Gelsinger] said it's NSX for the next 10 years. In the keynote today, Pulse IoT, containers, all these peripheral things, that's what's taking shape," Villalta told CRN.

VMware also wants to see partners focusing on adding security on top of those solutions, starting with using NSX for micro-segmentation of networks, and moving on to AppDefense, a new offering that locks down applications at the hypervisor layer. Brandon Sweeney, who recently became VMware's channel chief, told CRN that partners should be thinking about how they will take advantage of the new products to usher in a wave of data center transformation projects and further monetize delivery of cloud services.

"VMware built an ecosystem based on the hypervisor, and now we've figured out how to extend that across the software-defined data center," Sweeney said.

But some partners want the philosophy extended even beyond VMware's own portfolio.

Klee hopes VMware will eventually commit not only to its own cross-cloud solutions, but to facilitating the many open-source DevOps tools, like Microsoft's PowerShell, through public APIs. "I'd like to see them play a little nicer with open standards," Klee said.

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