Q&A with VMUG's Brad Tompkins Ahead of VMware Explore: 'Multi-Cloud Is Everything'

"The industry is going to multi-cloud," says Brad Tompkins, executive director of VMUG, the VMware user group. "VMware is in almost every enterprise, commercial, and small business in the world. VMware is and will be a player in the future of computing."

Tompkins made those remarks in a recent post to the 150,000-plus members of the independent organization in advance of the upcoming VMware Explore event (formerly called VMworld).

Tompkins was spot-on in his assessment of the coming multi-cloud-themed show, as VMware itself has said the following in explaining the name change to Explore: "VMware is a company that thrives on profound reinvention. With a hyper-focus on customer innovation, we're defining a new market category -- with apps and multi-cloud at the center of everything we do. This transformation communicates that we are a strategic leader in multi-cloud, shaping its future, from public to private to edge."

While not officially affiliated with VMware, Tompkins and other VMUG members are excited to return to the company's first in-person event after two consecutive online-only events.

"This is important because the connections made in person are powerful," Tompkins said. "We have been two years without the steady stream of in-person events. These lost connections are gone forever, so the sooner you can get back out there, the quicker we can start to make up for lost time." In an earlier post he lamented those connections lost in the switch to virtual events. "When I get back out there, I want to be hyper aware of potential connections. Try to make up for some of the connections missed. I plan on giving conversation a few more minutes to mature."

When Tompkins and thousands of others "get back out there" on Aug. 29 in San Francisco for the four-day event, multi-cloud will be on their minds.

In fact, multi-cloud was the first thing he mentioned when editors of Virtualization & Cloud Review and RedmondMag recently caught up with him ahead of the show. Cloud computing in general and multi-cloud specifically have changed the IT game, he said, which used to be just all about datacenters effectively acting as cost centers with the simple mission to "keep the blinky lights on." With the advent of the cloud came the realization that it could be used by organizations to differentiate their businesses from others, leading to a host of ongoing innovations throughout industry.

"And what's powering all this and what's going to continue to provide innovation in this is cloud, the ability to ramp up the ability to get data and mine your data for information. You've heard it before, but data and information is the new currency. And whoever can get that data out of their systems to make informed decisions are going to be the ones that win. And I think cloud is a huge piece of that. And when I say cloud, that could be on-prem cloud. It could be hyperscalar, you know, cloud-cloud, but my point is you have to start thinking of your datacenter, how can we give this to our employees so they can access all this data and do what they need to do."

Tompkins shared more of his thoughts in a short Q&A.

In that multi-cloud context, do you have any thoughts on any groundbreaking announcements that might come in VMware Explore?
I would expect something, we've got vSphere 7 out there right now. There's rumors out there that 8 is going to be coming out, so I would think something around vSphere for sure where 6 is getting close to end of life. So that's something that people need to plan for, and normally VMworld or Explore is the area where they have an announcement around vSphere that is still a core software for VMware, and for our members, right. Everybody's running vSphere here, there and everywhere. So I think that is something that we'll see announcements on.

There seems to be a lot more buzz about flaws and vulnerabilities in VMware software lately. Do you think that warnings and advisories and patches have actually increased -- and what do you have to say generally about the company's products, security-wise?
So to answer your first question, I do think that there is an increase -- and this is just a general statement about it. There is an increase on the attacks that we are seeing, and that's any company.

"And if you don't think you're getting targeted, you're wrong. You are getting targeted."

Brad Tompkins, executive director, VMUG

And if you don't think you're getting targeted, you're wrong. You are getting targeted. Now, it might not be as sophisticated as somebody that's going after government secrets or our big corporations' IP, but there are all kinds of things going on out there. I think what's driving that is what's going on in the world landscape, you've got a war going on [and increasing nation-state threat actors]. So what do we do to fix that? Yes, there are a lot of patches, there's always patches that will be coming out. There's always new vulnerabilities that will get discovered and then corporations like VMware need to patch up. And Adrian Woodward, the VMUG president, just had a tweet about that and social post about the need to be on the list to get the information from all your vendors, when there's critical patches out there. And of course, VMware has that as well that we all subscribe to and if you don't, you should, and make sure that you get everything patched up. I just think that's the way it is. That's just the world that we live in, and it's just part of it.

Do you anticipate that VMware will come out with any news for partners during VMware explorer and if so, what kinds of news should partners be looking out for?
Sandy Hogan [former "partner in chief" at VMware] recently left so I think that, from a partner perspective, it's find out what the structure is going to be, if there's going to be any changes. And -- what, two or three years ago -- they really changed the structure on how partners can get their master competencies. So I would look for any changes in that. I don't think there's going to be anything drastic because they just did a pretty big overhaul of that a few years ago. But I would look at that and and how the master competencies -- I guess not regulations -- but how that structure is going to continue moving forward. So those would be the things that I'd be looking at from a partner perspective. There's always some partner meetings that are partner-only at the at Explore/VMworld.

Do you expect any news about the metaverse and Web3, considering how buzzy they are right now?
Yes, I do expect something. I don't know if it'll make main stage, but I'm expecting in the content catalogs out there. There will be content on blockchain and those kinds of things. VMware does have a play in that, and that's something that they're having for everybody. It's still relatively new, but VMware has got some sessions on how blockchain can be used for the enterprise. And I do think that Web3 is an interesting thing that that is kind of still in that buzzword kind of mode. But it'll be fascinating to see what comes to that. And right now, it's more, you hear about, of course, blockchain and cryptocurrency and those kinds of things and NFTs, but what will happen is, enterprises will figure out, 'okay, this is how I can utilize this,' and I'm not talking about maybe it is creating their own currency like Meta's trying to do and those kinds of things. But I think it's going to go even deeper on how can they utilize this to do it smarter. A lot of these things that come out, people think, 'oh, you know, this is just a little niche kind of thing.' And then other people look at that and are like, 'oh, I can use that in a different way that maybe wasn't intended to begin with.' But then it morphed into all kinds of different ideas. So I am expecting something out. Maybe not announcements, but conversations at least and in sessions around Web3 and specifically blockchain for sure.

Regarding metaverse, not so much?
I would be a little bit more shocked if there were any specific conversations or announcements about metaverse. From an enterprise perspective, to me the obvious play is for conferencing and for how can we do meetings better. Everybody's remote now, and the remote workforce is going to be here to stay to some degree, and it'll morph and change and shift, but I think that pandemic taught us that there will be a lot of folks that will just work from home forever. So then it's like, how do you connect human to human a little bit better? And maybe the metaverse can provide a better way to do that.

VMUG Onsite
VMUG will have a substantial presence at the show, in both booth No. 1504 and in the VMUG Lounge at Moscone West Level 3, and he invited folks to stop by and chat.

He's also looking forward to the VMUG member talks and the general session, but is particularly excited about the following sessions and speakers:

  • Getting Kubernetes Ready for Developers with Platform as a Product
    Michael Coté, Staff Technologist 2, VMware
  • 10 New and Exciting Things About vSphere That You Absolutely Need to Know
    Himanshu Singh, Director, Cloud Platform, VMware
    Dave Morera, Sr. Technical Marketing Architect, VMware
  • Building dApps with VMware Blockchain Tech Tutorial
    Gintaras Pelenis, Senior Blockchain Specialist, VMware
    Tony Bailey, Director Blockchain Field Specialists, VMware

For those interested in joining VMUG, Tompkins noted that while membership is free, a VMUG Advantage for-pay membership upgrade provides additional benefits, including a VMware Explore discount, 365-day evaluation licenses, education and certification discounts, exclusive access to VMware Test Drive and more.

About the Authors

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.


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