VMware’s VMworld 2021: 5 Big Things To Watch For

With VMware’s VMworld 2021 right around the corner, CRN breaks down the most interesting, fun and important things you need to watch next week.

VMware’s VMworld 2021: What To Watch Next Week

From celebrities Will Smith and Michael J. Fox to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Oracle’s Larry Ellison, VMworld 2021 packs a powerful and entreating punch that will attract thousands of people across the global.

“Attending VMworld is key to understanding not only VMware’s current roadmap, but also our broader strategy and forward-looking innovations,” said VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram in a statement.

For the second straight year, VMworld 2021 will take place virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.

Although in a virtual conference setting, VMware has a slew of keynotes, sessions and celebrity guests to keep you in your seat at home next week. VMworld 2021 officially starts online on Oct. 5 at 9 a.m. PT and ends Oct. 6 at 3 p.m. PT.

Here are the five biggest things to watch for next week at VMworld 2021.

CEOs From AWS, Google Cloud, IBM, Microsoft Chat With Raghuram

Raghu Raghuram (pictured) will deliver his first-ever VMworld keynote as CEO next week to kick off the event on Oct. 5. Attending Raghuram’s keynote is important as previous VMware leaders have traditionally unveiled new products, services or new partnerships news at the start of the event.

Raghuram will speak alongside some of the biggest technology leaders in the world at VMworld 2021 including AWS’ new CEO Adam Selipsky to discuss the state of the cloud, industry trends driving cloud adoption, VMware and AWS Cloud solutions and what the future holds for cloud customers.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is scheduled to sit down with Raghuram to discuss industry trends, shared opportunities to help customers thrive with Microsoft and VMware Cloud offerings like Azure VMware Solution (AVS), as well as how leaders are navigating these shifts amidst continued uncertainty.

Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison will speak to Raghuram about cloud momentum along with industry trends, and customer success with the Oracle Cloud VMware Solution. Raghuram is also set to talk to IBM’s CEO Arvind Krishna about the cloud, market trends and customer success with IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions.

Lastly, Raghuram will sit down for a fireside chat with Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian to talk about the biggest industry trends, the Google Cloud VMware Engine and future technology directions.

Potential Big VMware Tanzu Announcements

There could be some major announcements at VMworld next week around Tanzu, the company’s Kubernetes portfolio of products and services.

VMworld sessions for VMware App Modernization will cover “new developments” with products including Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, Tanzu Mission Control, vSphere and VMware Cloud Foundation with Tanzu, Tanzu Application Service, Tanzu Application Catalog, Tanzu Build Service, Tanzu Observability by Wavefront, and Tanzu Kubernetes Grid Integrated Edition, according to VMware.

The application modernization tracks at VMworld this year will all be about Kubernetes, DevSecOps and tools channel partners and customers need to quickly and securely build, run and manage cloud native applications as well as how to modernize current apps and infrastructure.

A key session to attend is ‘The Future of Modern Applications and API Security’ on Oct. 6 led by James Watters, CTO of VMware’s Modern Applications Business Unit, and Pere Monclus, CTO for VMware’s Network Security Business Unit.

Another session to look into is dubbed ‘Deploying VMs and Kubernetes with VMware Cloud Foundation at the Edge’ which outlines all the requirements of VMware Cloud Foundation with VMware Tanzu to effectively manage containers and VMs no matter where they sit.

Will Smith, Michael J. Fox And NASA’s Moogega Cooper

VMware had nabbed some of the biggest celebrities to speak at VMworld next week.

Actor, producer, musician and Grammy Award winner Will Smith will chat with VMware’s President Sumit Dhawan to discuss the foundation of success and how to thrive through continual transformation and growth. Smith will share a rare look at his career successes and failures, and give a sneak peek into his upcoming book.

Emmy award-winning actor, author and patient advocate Michael J. Fox will sit down with VMware’s Chief Marketing Officer Carol Carpenter in a fireside chat to discuss his life and his passion to help find a cure to Parkinson’s disease. Other topics include maintaining inherent optimism while managing many challenges, balancing a career, family and charity work, and sharing how technology and research can help pave a path for a cure.

Additionally, Moogega Cooper, the trailblazing engineer of the famed Mars Rover ‘Perseverance’ Mission for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will host a session at VMworld to talk about her responsibility of keeping the red planet safe from any of the Earth’s contaminants. Cooper is the planetary protection lead of the famed NASA 2020 Mars mission. Her work with NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is integral to the ongoing mission to learn whether Mars could be habitable for humans and that we don’t harm what’s already there. She will also hold a brief Q&A for attendees after her session.

Last VMworld As Part Of Dell; Jeff Clarke’s Breakout Session

For the first time since 2004, VMware is set to become an independent company this year as Dell Technologies’ will spin-off its 81 percent stake in VMware in early November.

Channel partners, investors and customers should attend Raghuram’s break-out session at VMworld with Dell’s Vice Chairman and Co-Chief Operating Officer Jeff Clarke.

VMware’s Raghuram and Dell’s Clarke will discuss innovation and the “critical areas of collaboration the two companies” will do around multi-cloud, edge computing, 5G and modern applications.

As an independent company without direct attachment to Dell, VMware will strive to become the “Switzerland” of the multi-cloud world, VMware’s CEO told CRN in a recent interview.

“It will allow partners that previously were competitors of Dell to now look at VMware with new life and say, ’Hey, we can do strategic things with VMware,’” said Raghuram.

Dell’s goal with the spin-off is to simplify its capital structures, help Dell achieve investment-grade credit rating and provide Dell billions in funding to reduce its core debt stemming from its $67 billion acquisition of EMC and VMware in 2016.

In a recent interview with CRN, Dell’s founder and CEO Michael Dell said the spin-off creates additional growth opportunities for both companies.

“We’ve created a unique and differentiated commercial agreement that essentially formalizes all the things we’ve been doing. So you know about Vx:Rail, all the stuff we’ve been doing with SD-WAN, software-defined networks, and all the joint product developments around supporting VMware Cloud Foundation and the multi-cloud platforms—all that continues uninterrupted,” said Dell. “The companies will continue to partner in a super strong way.”

VMworld 2021: ‘Imagine That’

The theme of VMware’s biggest annual event is ‘Imagine That.’

This theme is likely referring to the new VMware that is taking shape. This year, VMware hired a new CEO in Raghu Raghuram as well as Sumit Dhawan as its new President. In just a few weeks VMware will become an independent company for the first time in over a decade with its spin-off from Dell.

As it relates to VMworld, the major sessions at VMworld 2021 revolve around multi-cloud, edge computing, application modernization and security—a far cry from VMworld’s traditional virtualization history.

Another key message VMware is touting with its ‘Imagine That’ theme is who VMware is interviewing and touting during its event. Talking to the CEOs of Amazon, Google and Microsoft would have seemed highly unlikely just a few years ago, as the three public cloud titans were seen more as competitors. However, over the past few years, VMware has turned foe into friend with major strategic partnerships formed with these companies.

Attendees of VMworld 2021 should listen closely to VMware’s new leaders regarding the company’s long-term strategy in the new hybrid cloud and data-driven world.

“Before you can build and evolve what comes next, you have to imagine it—even as the word seems to shift on its axis,” reads VMware’s description of VMworld 2021. “VMworld can help make this world a reality.”