CTOpinion

VMworld 2017 Sneak Preview

Internet of Things, serverless computing and more take center stage at this year's show.

The buildup to VMworld is always a frenzied time, and this year is certainly no different. The past 12 months has been an exciting time for VMware, as we have closed the Dell EMC deal, refined our focus and embraced and extended many partnerships. The R&D team is increasingly driven by customer-centric innovation. By that, I mean we are doing abundant due diligence to ensure our innovations are in line with our customers' most pressing challenges, and fit well within our engineering DNA. You'll see the results of this engineering focus at VMworld 2017.

To begin, divesting from the cloud-provider business and selling VMware vCloud Air to OVH was a strategic necessity. We now no longer own or operate cloud datacenters, and that has allowed us to strengthen our value as a software company for the cloud era.

Today, we have rapidly growing partnerships with those providers, with the common goal of working together to solve customer challenges. No one company can do it all, and I'm seeing the technology community as a whole doing a far better job of working together where possible, and differentiating where needed. Of course, we will compete in some places, but that won't stop us from working together at the same time.

Let's start with an example of one of the new emerging challenges we're working to solve in R&D. Internet of Things (IoT) is really starting to catch fire. We've learned from customers that there are many use cases where analyzing sensor and other types of data in the cloud just isn't practical. I've met with manufacturers in both the United States and Germany that expect many of their factories to generate a petabyte of data per day by 2020. Shipping that much data off-site each day for analysis isn't possible.

Furthermore, many of these sites are physically isolated because these manufacturers won't risk an external compromise interrupting business. That said, these organizations have a strong need for edge compute appliances that can perform requisite analytics to improve operational efficiencies and indentify new competitive advantages. This is a challenge that can be solved in very compelling ways by combining VMware's experience with edge compute and hyperconverged infrastructure, and the application platforms and frameworks from partners that complement our stack. That could be AWS, Docker, Google, Kubernetes, Microsoft or Pivotal. The list goes on.

We're also seeing the need to scale serverless computing to the edge. While it would be difficult to move a full set of all serverless functions to edge devices and to keep them current, it's very achievable to move a set of necessary services to the edge. Organizations are asking for serverless solutions on our platform for a few reasons, including the need for lower latency, privacy, full telemetry and a verifiable audit trail. Customers in financial services, manufacturing and health care have all expressed interest in this approach. Before you consider this as some VMware-centric view of the world, note that Microsoft sees the same requirements, and recently released the Azure Functions Runtime as a result.

At VMworld 2016, we demonstrated our cross-cloud vision and the feedback was highly positive. This year, we'll be showing the fruits of our cross-cloud labor and showcasing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based cross-cloud management, networking and security. As we demonstrated last year, we've kept our focus on the top challenges facing organizations running their businesses across multiple and often competing clouds. That includes centralized network operations and security policies, cost management, and discovery, among other key capabilities. In addition to centralizing operations for cloud-provider-native services, we'll also showcase our progress in VMware Cloud on AWS. At this point, we've had a significant amount of early-access customers running their VMware environments in the AWS cloud.

While we will certainly nod to the future, we will showcase a multitude of innovations, all of which will be available this year. I'm passionate about ensuring our innovations are timely and relevant, and hope to see you at VMworld, hear your ideas, and exchange thoughts and best practices. See you in Vegas!

About the Author

Chris Wolf is VMware's CTO, Global Field and Industry.

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