Forrester SVP: VMware Is One Of The 'Exciting' Stars Of IT Automation Era


VMware is one of the "exciting" stars of the IT automation era reshaping the technology landscape with its multicloud IT automation portfolio, said Glenn O'Donnell, senior vice president and research director of Forrester, a top IT market researcher, in a keynote address at XChange 2018.

"I would say in IT automation, one of the more exciting vendors is a vendor that some people think is not exciting, and that's VMware," said O'Donnell in a response to a question on which vendors are driving the most IT automation. "VMware has really jumped on cloud automation in a big way. It doesn't own that market--nobody owns that market, it's a pretty fierce, competitive world. But VMware is certainly one of the more powerful players in this business for IT automation."

It is VMware's multicloud prowess in a hybrid cloud world that is making a difference in IT automation, said O'Donnell.

"If you want to think about the true, pragmatic view of cloud, it is not 'shove everything to AWS,'" he said. "It is 'shove what makes sense into AWS, keep some stuff on premises, put some stuff into this growing, burgeoning edge stuff.' And frankly, the mainframe is going to be around longer than I'm going to be around, so that's going to be part of the puzzle. And whoever can help glue all these things together is going to be a real winner. I won't say VMware has nailed it yet, but they're further along than most vendors. And they're certainly getting the mindshare of the IT organizations."

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The net financial impact of VMware multicloud automation on customers and solution providers is "enormous," O'Donnell told CRN in an interview after his keynote address, title "Automation- The Greatest Force In Digital Transformation."

"Look at how much money and time people spend on integrating various [IT] tools," he said. "These tools have to talk to each other. You have to plug them together. This is like plugging a U.S. plug into a U.K. socket. You need the adapter, and building those adapters ain't easy."

O'Donnell called VMware and Pivotal the "crown jewels" of Dell's $70 billion blockbuster acquisition of EMC in 2015. "It's the future," said O'Donnell. "It's the software side of it. A lot of good stuff came with EMC but what VMware and Pivotal are doing is the future. It's all about software."

One metric that has been used with IT circles for many years is servers per system administrator. "If you have got 100 servers per admin [within enterprise IT], you are doing pretty good typically," O'Donnell said. "Facebook and Google are doing 20,000 to 30,000 servers or more per admin. But they are not admins. They are engineers. They are developing systems that automate that."

Of course, the Google and Facebook servers are "cookie cutter" systems, while the enterprise IT systems have a "million" different IT configurations, said O'Donnell. "If you can standardize and automate, you are going to blow your productivity numbers up," he said.

O'Donnell told solution providers that by 2027, 17 percent of current jobs will eliminated by automation. "If you think you are immune to this you are wrong," he said. "At some point all of us have to think about our jobs being replaced by automation."

Within IT there are a lot of "grunt" jobs that are going to be lost to IT automation, said O'Donnell. "So much of what we do is manual--getting there and then tapping into the command line," he said. "I am a geek. I love the command line, but I am on a personal mission to abolish the command line."

O'Donnell urged solution providers to take the lead in helping vendors sell IT automation and customers deliver it. "They need you," he told the audience.

Partners first and foremost need to be writing software code, said O'Donnell. "If you are in IT and you are not writing code, you are not going to be in IT very long," he said.

Another key metric for solution providers and all technology companies is revenue per employee, said O'Donnell. "Revenue per employee is the metric I am looking at for every vendor – public or private," he said. "Ultimately it comes down to productivity--how many things per employee can you do."

Chad Hodges, vice president of business development for Enterprise Networking Solutions (ENS-Inc), a VMware NSX Partner of the year headquartered in Rancho Cordova, Calif., said VMware's vRealize cloud management suite, VMware NSX network virtualization and VMware Cloud on AWS are driving big sales growth.

"Our VMware business is on track to grow by 20 percent this year," Hodges said. "VMware automation is allowing workloads to move seamlessly from on-premises to the cloud as customers burst one way or another."

Another key vendor playing a role in the IT automation era is ServiceNow, said Hodges. "We are automating more and more of the business process workflows in IT service management," he said. "We are automating the routine, the mundane tasks that typically someone has to manually enter. We are automating that and seeing more and more of those workloads be that much more efficient. It is great technology."

Paul Murphy, a director for GAM Tech, a Calgary, Alberta Canada managed service provider, said he is seeing robust growth working with vendors, like VMware, Cisco, Red Hat and Datrium, that are driving IT automation. "If you have a VMware guy you don't really need a storage guy anymore, it can manage that whole stack," he said. "That is what is happening with automation. Everything is being managed through VMware. That stack is fully managed and automated at the hypervisor level. It's getting rid of all the proprietary tools."

Murphy said there is a huge cost savings with customers implementing VMware for IT automation. It is also driving big profits for partners, he said. "Our VMware business is growing about 35 percent a year," he said. "It's good stuff."

Additional reporting by CRN’s Kyle Alspach