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How VMware Explore 2022 changed my mind

Multi-cloud and cloud-native strategies emerged as major themes at VMware Explore 2022. Explore key announcements from the conference and their impact here.

This year, VMware renamed its VMworld conference to VMware Explore. Why did they do this? From my point of view, it's evolution. When looking at the world from an organization's point of view, that worldview is focused on a single perspective. Explore opens a new, multidimensional way of thinking about your organization. VMware is doing this to align with its next chapter of focusing on multi-cloud. I think it is a great change.

A look at the announcements

The keynote by VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram focused on the multi-cloud universe and how innovations, as well as insights, can be used to accelerate business. The highlights from this keynote emphasized the importance of VMware's Cross-Cloud services and the ecosystem of partners delivering a path to cloud, edge and application modernization for today's organizations.

In terms of the cloud journey, VMware divides cloud adoption into three phases:

  • Cloud First. Embrace public cloud and focus on building customer-facing mobile apps in a single cloud.
  • Cloud Chaos. A multi-cloud model often leads to complexity. Roughly 80% of organizations are grappling with this current state, according to VMware.
  • Cloud Smart. The desired destination of every multi-cloud journey, providing the freedom to select the right cloud for the right app, based on the needs of the individual app. A Cloud Smart approach empowers teams by providing a consistent operating model across the different clouds they rely on, with lateral security and consistent control across private cloud, public clouds and the edge.

This tells the story of how organizations are maturing through their cloud journey. Multi-cloud and distributed cloud approaches are the norm. In fact, research from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) showed that 89 percent of organizations run on two or more cloud service providers. So, these three phases make sense.

In addition, VMware announced product enhancements including vSphere 8, vSAN 8, VMware Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations (TKO) and Tanzu Application Platform (TAP). A new multi-cloud management offering called VMware Aria was introduced and is designed to manage cost, performance, configuration and delivery of infrastructure and cloud-native applications.

Cloud and edge: VSphere enhancements

  • VSphere 8. The latest update introduces data processing units (DPUs) into the fold along with CPUs and GPUs -- making the future of modern infrastructure accessible to all enterprises.
  • VSAN 8. This version introduces breakthrough performance and hyper-efficiency. The new vSAN Express Storage Architecture will enhance the performance, storage efficiency, data protection and management of vSAN running on the latest generation of storage devices.
  • VMware Cloud Foundation+. Through a subscription model, VMware Cloud Foundation+ delivers a cloud-connected architecture for managing and operating full-stack hyper-converged infrastructure in data centers.
  • VMware Edge Compute Stack. This product range helps customers address the needs of simplicity and scale at the edge, including support for smaller cluster sizes to run containers efficiently on smaller commercial, off-the-shelf hardware.

Application modernization: VMware Tanzu enhancement

  • Tanzu Application Platform (TAP 1.3). This application was preannounced. It aims to enhance developer and application operator experiences, increase supply chain security and visualization, provide additional Kubernetes runtime support, and offer additional API integrations.
  • Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations. TKO simplifies Kubernetes delivery, management and reliability.

Cloud management: VMware Aria

  • VMware Aria. With Aria, VMware brings a new way to manage the cost, performance, configuration and delivery of infrastructure and cloud-native applications. Aria includes multi-cloud management across cost (powered by CloudHealth), operations and automation categories.
  • VMware Aria Hub. Centralized views and controls in VMware Aria Hub help to manage the entire multi-cloud environment.
  • VMware Aria Graph. This tool provides a common definition of applications, resources, roles and accounts.

In addition to these announcements, VMware's Raghuram discussed how the Freestyle Orchestrator offers intelligence-guided root-cause analysis that uses automation for remediation to provide better experiences.

Why should you care?

There is a lot more to cover from this event.  You will also want to check out my colleague Bob Laliberte’s post where he covers edge and networking, including highlights from Project Monterey, Smart NICs and DPUs, Project Northstar, and more. 

Organizations are faced with many challenges. These include roadblocks from the lack of IT skills or response of developers and site reliability engineers, platform complexities, the heavy weight of enterprise apps on systems, and fragmented operations and security. The Cloud Smart approach offers an interesting way to deliver speed of innovation while balancing compliance. Without a smart approach, these challenges create Cloud Chaos over time and decrease its value.

VMware has promised to address the challenges of converting a Cloud Chaos approach to a Cloud Smart approach in three ways:

  1. Deliver a way to take disparate development, operations and security efforts and convert this to an accelerated application development model.
  2. Take existing siloed cloud infrastructure and provide a consistent enterprise infrastructure.
  3. Change the fragmented app access experience to a more frictionless app access experience.

This strategy is designed to provide outcomes that balance business agility and velocity with increased resiliency, cost efficiencies and flexibility. Additionally, it will improve employee engagement and productivity. These attributes may provide a competitive advantage for organizations under a uniform Cloud Smart model. This includes a new, more comprehensive view of a Cloud Smart organization, with multi-cloud teams as well as workspace teams all driving toward unified business results.

Organizations are dealing with digital transformation. It takes a broad community to make it happen. The VMware community of developers and platform engineering, cloud operations and security pros are collectively working toward a digital economy. That digital economy is large and includes the following:

  • 5 million developers in the VMware community;
  • 350,000 new projects every week;
  • 35 new apps every minute;
  • 85 million workloads running globally; and
  • 30,000 global partners.

Multi-cloud and data center professionals make up this community. VMware Explore is the event for the multi-cloud community and acts as the center of the multi-cloud universe.

Notable mentions

This event was not only about the announcements from VMware. I was able to connect and meet with several vendors offering technologies that support this new vision:

  • OVHcloud. Jeffrey Gregor, general manager for OVHcloud, and I had a great discussion on customer choice in this multi-cloud world. Meeting the customers where they are in their cloud journey is key to overall business success. We also discussed how the future is about hybrid and multi-cloud and what that will look like in this recorded fireside chat.
  • Stratodesk. Rich Severson, vice president of global solutions engineering, and Emanuel Pirker, CEO, provided an overview of the no-touch endpoint OS for end-user computing. This also includes the vision of a hardware-independent approach providing security included in VMware Horizon.
  • MinIO. I connected with MinIO co-founder Garima Kapoor and Jonathan Symonds, chief marketing officer, and we discussed the growth and next phase of the company. This includes $103 million in Series B funding and aiming to stay true to the vision of being the AWS S3 for the rest of the world. MinIO claims to be the only object store that can run in the public cloud -- accounting for over 1 million deployments -- private cloud and the edge.
  • Tintri. Brock Mowry, chief technology officer, and I discussed the 15-month roadmap of the offering's "neXt" iteration. Tintri is evolving with to provide a place to get resources focused on best practices, data protection that reduces complexity and expense with backup, and replication and restoring in the cloud. Tintri also provides a hybrid cloud for virtual workload migration and centralized cloud management. For me, the cloud-native container services and Kubernetes with Tanzu integration was the most interesting takeaway.
  • EZeep. President and CEO Henning Volkmer highlighted the obstacles organizations face with secure printing and connection through endpoint devices. Printing, in general, has become a challenge most organizations are not looking to address -- mainly because it is too complex. This product provides a new way of looking at secure printing, leveraging modern approaches.
  • Zerto. It was great to connect with Kevin Cole, global director of technical marketing, and Caroline Seymour, vice president of product marketing. The data protection space is evolving; cloud management and Kubernetes are at the forefront of the next generation for cloud-native protection. I look forward to seeing where Zerto is growing in this space.
  • IBM. I was able to connect with Scott Baker, chief marketing officer of IBM Storage, and we discussed the focus and vision of the IBM Storage portfolio. The expansion of the FlashSystem portfolio, as well as the underlying infrastructure, is tried and true for IBM. I am interested in the future of container storage and the intersection of how storage will enhance the developer journey using Red Hat and its orchestration technology.

Paul's bigger truth

It is clear that VMware is staying focused, irrespective of the Broadcom noise. The innovation VMware has been building over the past two years is coming alive and the vision is aligning to reality. The bifurcated infrastructure and developer approach connects the multi-cloud story, but it must continue to evolve to be the destination for organizations deploying their next-generation operations. The advancement in Tanzu is best stated by quoting VMware's Raghuram: "It lets developers be developers."

Going into VMware Explore, I had some confusion -- maybe even doubts -- about VMware's future investment in the developer side of the business and how the Broadcom merger would affect Tanzu and the VMware developer community. Now, it is much clearer to me how Tanzu and Aria, as well as the new announcements with vSphere 8 and vSAN 8, are needed to support the multi-cloud approach.

In the end, it will come down to numbers. Sometimes spreadsheets can run the future of businesses, regardless of how cool, innovative or potentially exciting the technology can be. Numbers tend to tell the truth, and future investments in this innovation will come down to sales execution and market adoption of these new enhancements.

ESG is a division of TechTarget.

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