VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) kicked off today in sunny San Francisco with a great keynote presentation from a number of key VMware executives. This year VMware introduced a new term to the partner community, the Software-Defined Enterprise. SDE is where every component of IT is virtualized, abstracted, pooled, and automated. VMware spoke about their Network Virtualization and Software-Defined Storage initiatives. This article will cover some of the highlights.
VMware has continued to grow in the face of a very mature virtualization market in a lot of regions. It’s impressive for a company with over $5B in revenue to keep growing at almost 20%, but with NSX I have a feeling that they’re only just getting started. It’s good for partners that over 85% of revenue goes through the channel and all of the speakers reiterated VMware’s commitment to the partners. However with some of their more disruptive strategies it’s inevitable that VMware will step on the toes of partners in all areas where they do business. This is the new frienemy reality of business.
The good news for partners is the $50B opportunity from VMware’s three key focus areas, EUC, Hybrid Cloud and SDE – formally SDDC. The SDE or Software-Defined Enterprise is Software-Defined Everything. The services opportunity alone that would be attached to this infrastructure opportunity would probably be 2X. All of these areas of focus are growing by at least 20% CAGR.
The major challenge for VMware to execute on and deliver on this vision is the lack of skilled resources inside partners and customers that can successfully integrate multiple technology areas. VMware has been investing heavily in their education programs, including VMware Certified Design Experts (VCDX), but they now need to take this to the next level. Without advanced certifications the ability to implement technology will lag and as an extension, so may sales. Otherwise the risk is sales continue at a significant pace and all of the software becomes shelfware that nobody implements. On the one hand VMware is hiring and focusing resources around their three key target areas of EUC, SDDC and Hybrid Cloud, but they seem to have missed the important integration between them all that needs to take place. This requires experienced architects that can cover multiple disciplines during all phases including pre-sales and delivery.
VMware also seems to be missing another major market opportunity that exists, which is migrating traditional applications from Unix platforms to vSphere. I’ve personally championed this cause for a long time very successfully and the market opportunity is significant. VMware’s data suggests that > 65% of all workloads are virtualized (Estimated at ~80% by end of 2014), however that data only covers x86. They don’t even produce data on the Unix market, and in many countries there is a significant install base that is ripe for the taking. In a lot of cases the migration approach is not that difficult either, there is a lot of low hanging fruit. There was not a single session on this area, nor anyone at the VMware Booth in the Solutions Exchange that could talk to Business Critical Apps, or these Unix to vSphere migration opportunities. Perhaps some yet to be announced plans will address this gap.
VMware announced the three imperatives or prime directives of their strategy as follows:
- Virtualize all of IT. Compute is done, next up Networking and Storage. (Tip: In some areas of APJ compute is only getting started. Unix has a big foothold)
- Management gives way to automation. In this case automation isn’t scripting, but policy driven declarative automation. You specify the capabilities you require and your infrastructure will deliver it, automatically.
- Compatible Hybrid Cloud is ubiquitous. You can take your workloads and run them anywhere that meets their specific policy requirements. The biggest problem here, and it’s something VMware can’t solve alone, is application licensing and bandwidth availability. The current tyranny of cloud is application licensing and cheap and accessible high bandwidth connections. In the future the cloud will come closer to the consumer in my opinion.
Virtualize All The Things – Networking!
Ever since VMworld 2013 NSX has been on the minds of many. NSX will allow customers the choice of any networking hardware, any hypervisor, and any cloud management platform to automate the provisioning and operations of their entire network stack, while seamlessly integrating existing physical platforms. Given that virtual networking at the edge has surpassed physical network ports this puts VMware in a strong position to leverage this wave of virtualization for massive profits. Although they didn’t specifically outline how the partners will get their share. Currently NSX is sold directly, but as it matures and becomes more accessible and democratised I’m sure the partners will be an important channel to market. With the amount of pent up demand for the moment there is plenty of people beating down VMware’s door to get NSX. The biggest thing about NSX in my opinion is the policy based management that can automatically and intelligently program the network based on specific conditions and it’s scale out nature that removes many traditional bottlenecks that plague traditional networking and security solutions. The match of NSX and scalable converged infrastructure is a perfect solution to the Software-defined Enterprise and Datacenter of the future. I think Nutanix is in prime position to take advantage of this, especially given it has many of the same philosophies of NSX – scalable, on demand, software-defined converged infrastructure.
Virtualize All The Things – Storage!
There wasn’t many surprises in the Software-Defined Storage announcements other than partners will get up to 20% incentive to sell VMware’s solutions and could win a Tesla S. But the one thing that did catch my eye was VMware’s inclusion of cloud based object storage as part of the storage strategy going forward. VMware is also making a play at the hypervisor-converged infrastructure market, which is great news for the vendors already in this space. The VMware marketing machine is going to be validating already customer proven solutions and the leaders in the market for converged solutions, such as Nutanix, which is uncompromisingly simple. The more awareness and education in this space the better. While VMware’s SDS product might be as easy as three clicks, Nutanix offers a mature and proven solution in no clicks at all, with zero to Software-Defined Datacenter in 30 minutes. There is no doubt that there will be plenty of choice for customers, but I’m not sure they really want to take on the role of being the underlying storage platform architects in their datacenters. I think VMware has done a good job and their solutions give the existing market players a good reason to continue to aggressively innovate their solutions, which I know will definitely happen.
Applications go Hybrid – Cloud to the People!
Applications Rule and 5700 are supported on vSphere and 120 Operating Systems (If the Apps are so important why no Business Critical Apps guys on the booth and no Unix to VMware session? Excuse the broken record). vSphere 5.5 was a rock solid release and has pushed the bar further so that almost everything is now a virtualization candidate. Extending this further into hybrid cloud with the VMware vCHS service and VMware’s VSPP program gives customers complete choice while providing a seamless management experience. What I didn’t see from the management tools strategy was integrated multi-tenancy so that the cloud providers could provide tenant views. But I guess that makes sense as VMware wants every customer to purchase and consume their own management tools across the hybrid environment, instead of them being provided as a service. The combination of vCHS and VSPP Partners allows the clouds to move closer to the consumers, which will ultimately grow adoption and consumption for the benefit of all.
The market opportunity is expected to exceed $30B by 2017. Good news for the partners that have invested in building a VSPP business. Even better news is the continued investment in vCloud Director for Cloud Providers. Now all they need to do is innovate and provide a scalable infrastructure that doesn’t cost the earth. Plugging the same old enterprise kit together the same ways as we always have isn’t going to deliver the economics that customers want. An uncompromisingly simple infrastructure platform that is linearly scaleable, automatic, self healing, robust, mature and reliable is what is needed. This is exactly what Nutanix Virtual Computing Platform provides and we’re putting the hard work in so our partners and customers can wear the Nutanix grin :).
VMware and its partners, including it’s integration and technology alliance partners are in prime position to benefit from the Software-Defined Enterprise of the future. VMware is committed to the channel and to continuous innovation across the three focus areas. VMware’s entrance into the Converged market is great news for the existing players and customers alike. No doubt we’ll continue to see many improvements and innovations in 2014, 2015 and beyond. I couldn’t think of a better time to be in IT, and to be in the engineering side of the most positively disruptive technology revolution of the next decade or more, exciting!
This post appeared on the Long White Virtual Clouds blog at longwhiteclouds.com, by Michael Webster +. Copyright © 2014 – IT Solutions 2000 Ltd and Michael Webster +. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced for commercial purposes without written permission.