VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram kicked off the vendor's flagship user conference in San Francisco, noting the event’s new name and its return to an in-person venue after two years of being held virtually due to the pandemic. What used to be called VMworld is now VMware Explore in a switch that acknowledges how the audience has changed over the years.
“When we started VMworld, it was a community for data centre professionals," he said. "But over the years we have broadened.
"Now it’s a community for application developers, platform engineering teams, cloud operations teams, and security teams, he said. “It's about all of these roles… not only in the data centre, but across clouds. It is truly a multi-cloud community.”
VMware’s product news, too, spans the IT horizon, including application development, data centre infrastructure, network security, and multi-cloud management.
The vendor's flurry of tech previews and announcements includes:
- Project Northstar, a family of multi-cloud networking and security services available via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) consumption model
- New releases of vSphere server virtualisation and vSAN storage virtualisation software, along with new resource-based consumption models designed to better align costs to application needs
- Launch of Aria, a portfolio of software designed to centralise the delivery, management and security of infrastructure and apps in a multi-cloud environment
- Updates to the Tanzu Application Platform, including support for Red Hat’s OpenShift Kubernetes orchestration platform
Overcoming cloud chaos
The new and enhanced products from VMware are part of an overarching theme that Raghuram introduced in his keynote address: Enterprises need a smarter, more consistent, and less chaotic approach to the cloud.
IT organisations of all sizes face similar challenges as they try to accelerate the pace of innovation, drive greater automation, and boost productivity, he said. Digital transformation depends on expanding further into the cloud, “re-platforming everything in the enterprise,” Raghuram said, but CIOs and CEOs tell him it’s not happening fast enough.
“The roadblocks tend to be very common, regardless of industry,” Raghuram said. The three main obstacles are: lack of skills, the weight of enterprise applications that need to be modernised, and fragmented development, operations, and security models.
“All of your teams are building applications on multiple clouds in the data centre, following different models. There is no consistent developer experience -- that slows them down. There is a fragmented operations model--that slows them down. There is a fragmented security model -- that increases risk. All of these things are slowing down the great re-platforming,” he said.
At last year’s conference, VMware talked about VMware Cross-Cloud Services, its vision for a set of technology services and platforms that enable enterprises to be “cloud smart,” and this year the company is delivering some of those products, Raghuram said.
One example is VMware vSphere 8. It took two years to build, and, according to Raghuram, it sets the foundation for the next decade of modern computing -- a single compute infrastructure that can support a variety of CPUs, GPUs and DPUs (data processing unit).
“vSphere is going to be the singular platform that allows you to deploy and manage workloads and run them effectively and securely regardless of what the underlying processor technology is,” Raghuram said.
“And this is going to allow you to run not only today’s applications, but the next decade of AI and machine-learning applications and data applications, real time applications, telco applications, you name it.”
VMware Aria is another key release, targeting multi-cloud management. The Aria portfolio includes a set of products for managing the cost, performance, configuration, and delivery of infrastructure and cloud-native applications. It’s powered by VMware Aria Graph, a graph-based data store that captures the elements of a multi-cloud environment.
“We have created a graph of all of your cloud assets, your hundreds or thousands of [virtual private clouds] and Kubernetes clusters, and serverless, and on-premises, and so on and so forth,” Raghuram said. “And using this graph, we can do all sorts of management and security and automation that you could never think of before. That is VMware Aria. It is at the core of our multi-cloud management strategy.”
Continuing the multi-cloud theme, Raghuram announced that VMware’s Cloud Universal program now supports Microsoft Azure.
“When we introduced [the Cloud Universal program] last year, we introduced it for the private cloud and VMware Cloud on AWS. So you answered, ‘Hey, that is great, but that is not multi cloud.’ So we went back to work. Earlier this year, we added support for Google. And today I'm excited to announce that Microsoft Azure VMware Solution will be part of VMware Cloud Universal.”
With Cloud Universal, “you don't have to predict or wonder where your developers want to build the next great application, whose cloud services they want to connect it to, how to manage them, et cetera, et cetera,” he said. “You can choose to flexibly build your applications on-premises, move it to the cloud, build it on one cloud, run it on another cloud, go crazy. All of it is covered by one commercial model.”
Broadcom’s plans for VMware
Early in the keynote address, Raghuram alluded to Broadcom’s plans to acquire VMware, and he used the opportunity to welcome Broadcom chairman and CEO Hock Tan, who was in the audience, to the VMware Explore community. But Raghuram didn’t say anything specific about the $61 billion deal, which was first announced in May.
In a media briefing following the keynote, Raghuram was pressed on the pending deal.
“Things are on track,” he said. “They're going through all of the regulatory approvals, on the one hand. On the other hand, we are working with the Broadcom team and helping them understand the depth and breadth of our business and product portfolio.
“And in the meantime, as we are required to, we are operating as a completely independent, standalone company with our own execution track and strategy.”
Broadcom expects the acquisition to close in its fiscal 2023 year, which begins in November and ends in October of next year.
When asked about pre-acquisition jitters, Raghuram said the initial flurry of concerns among VMware employees and customers seems to have settled down. It’s to be expected that any large transaction will spur questions and potential concerns, he said.
“That did exist with our employees in the beginning,” he said, but “a lot of that has settled down. Employees know what the roadmap ahead is.”
“With respect to customers, I think it's more of the same thing. Customers are very mature. They've been through lots of big company transactions before, and they're seeing us execute every day.”