A dozen takeaways from VMworld 2015

vmworld 2015

VMware said 23,000 are in attendance at Vmworld 2015 in San Francisco this week


Credit: VMware

VMware’s alive and well, but it faces headwinds just like any other company


After spending three full days at VMworld 2015 in San Francisco, I’ve learned some things. Here are a dozen takeaways from the conference:

Company data centers aren’t going away

Despite Amazon Web Services and other public cloud vendors saying that any and all workloads can be moved to the public cloud, the reality is that will not happen anytime soon. VMware is an infrastructure management company that’s focused on helping customers optimize their internal environments. VMworld is a conference attended by 23,000 customers and partners who aren’t looking to go wholesale into the public cloud just yet.

Check out some of the hottest products partners and vendors displayed at VMworld this year.

VMware’s Unified Hybrid Cloud is mostly a private cloud

VMware’s big cloud message is that it offers a Unified Hybrid Cloud, which it says balanced both public cloud and internal data centers. Realistically though, the handful of “cloud” customers I spoke to in the hallways of VMworld were using some of VMware’s private cloud capabilities, but I didn’t find many that were using the public IaaS vCloud Air. Many more were using a third-party public cloud like Amazon Web Services. (Read more about how VMware is hoping to distinguish itself in the cloud market here.)

pat gelsinger VMware

Pat Gelsginer at VMworld 2015 in San Francisco 

vGeeks love vMotion

Perhaps the most jubilant moment of the keynote speeches was when executives demonstrated the capability to migrate a live virtual machine from a private cloud (running vSphere) to vCloud Air without turning the VM off. The revolutionary technology of vMotion continues to advance and VMware loyalists love it. To me, this demonstrates the power of customers who are willing to stay in the VMware ecosystem for both public and private clouds.

More heterogeneous hybrid cloud integrations are needed

Sure vMotion across clouds is great. But it only works in VMware’s environment right now. VMware offers some basic tooling to manage public cloud resources, but much, much more could be done for VMware’s management tools to support non-VMware public clouds. The question is: Will VMware enable that capability?

Virtual Networking is catching on

VMware says it has 700 users for its NSX virtual networking product, including 65 of who have deployments of $1 million or more. In jest, I wonder if that means those are big installations of NSX, or that it’s really expensive? Despite those numbers, it still feels like this market is very early on.

Gelsinger: Develop like a startup, deliver like an enterprise

All businesses are getting disrupted by new entrants in the market, even (gasp) VMware, by companies like AWS. The good news is that CEO Pat Gelsinger seems to recognize this, hence the company’s ambitious plans to build up its vCloud Air public cloud. Still, Gelsinger said that subscription revenue accounts for less than 20% of total revenue. That will grow, but will it grow fast enough to keep investors happy?

+ MORE AT NETWORK WORLD: Gelsinger talks network virtualization market adoption; feuding with Cisco, and the state of the EMC Federation +

Gelsinger has a bounce in his step

The CEO of VMware seemed very energetic at the show; not just during his keynote, but when roaming the halls mingling with customers and partners too. As rumors of a potential change to the structure of the EMC Federation continue, and with EMC CEO Joe Tucci likely retiring soon, it raises the question: Was Gelsinger publicly auditioning for a larger role in the Federation? (Check out Gelsinger's comments about the EMC Federation structure here.)

Containers are way over-hyped

IDC analyst Al Gillen estimates that 1/10 of 1% of existing enterprise applications run in containers. Yet the term is the most hyped technology term in software since OpenStack was two years ago, he says. Still, VMware enabling support for containers in its management tools was a big deal at this year's conference, as you can tell from the video above. 

VMware uses AWS

AWS is seen by some as VMware’s enemy, or at least a potential headwind for the company’s growth. But VMware uses AWS too. In our wide-ranging interview with Gelsinger, he admitted that some vCenter operations programs are hosted in AWS. Who would have thunk.

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VMworld 2015 Party at AT&T Park in San Francisco 

AI is coming to VMware

Gelsginer made the point in his keynote that Artificial Intelligence could be a powerful technology in the future. Don’t expect vAI from VMware. But, we are already starting to see some early implementations of this technology. In the latest release of vSphere, for example, it includes the capability to predict future usage of VMs by applications based on past performance.

Networking is key

And by networking, I mean actual face-to-face, meeting with people networking. When I attend conferences now, one of my favorite parts is meeting people I interact with frequently on Twitter or via email.

VMware knows how to throw a party

To cap off the event the VMware Party was held at AT&T ballpark – home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Attendees were able to roam the field that was packed with carnival games, hang out in the Giants’ dugout, and were entertained by performers Neon Trees and Alabama Shakes. Oh yea, and there was all-you-can-eat free food and drink from the concession stands around the ballpark. More than once I heard people say “Wow.”

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