In-Depth

VMworld 2018 Preview: Rethinking the Limits of Innovation

Chris Wolf, vice president and chief technology officer of Global Field and Industry at VMware, previews what's in store this week at VMworld 2018 in Las Vegas.

While my artistic ability is more petroglyph than Picasso, I've always found appreciation in watching talented artists at work. There's no limit to the number or variety of colors that an artist can create or use in a painting. Rules can be broken, new colors created, and inspirational works of art born out of paint, canvas, and an artist's imagination. My wife is an artist and I continually find myself envious of how she can create without restriction or consequence, unlike those of us in IT. IT is often more about pragmatic innovation -- or innovating within an accepted number of constraints. While we may never reach the outright freedom that artists enjoy, we should strive to remove as many barriers to creativity and innovation as possible.

At VMworld 2018, we are showcasing a variety of new technologies and partnerships that will bring new levels of flexibility that further accelerate innovation. Key to our vision is providing consistent infrastructure for applications and data, and an operational model and tools that also remain globally consistent, regardless of where an application runs. Furthermore, and most importantly, we will show more examples of how you can maintain a dependable operational and security model while preserving a native developer experience. Anything that impedes a developer's ability to manage applications and services using native tools and APIs will only serve to limit creativity.

Ultimately, we want to give organizations the flexibility to run any application -- anywhere -- and to be able to build new apps and services without having to pre-determine their future based on a set of artificial constraints. That app that was built in the cloud today may need to run at the edge across thousands of sites next year. Technology may be deployed in ways or places you never even considered. It's the world we live in. We don't know what we don't know, until we know it.

Of course, saying you'd like to have the flexibility to run an application anywhere, and quickly pivot as market dynamics change, is easier said than done. When you consider application or data dependencies, networking, security, compliance, and performance and availability requirements, preserving flexibility is far from easy. Making it easy for you to accelerate innovation across clouds, datacenters, and edge sites is hard work, but if you've met a VMware engineer, you know that solving hard problems is what gets us out of bed. When you decouple your applications, data, networks and security from hardware dependencies, flexibility is no longer an aspiration, but a design element. At VMworld, we'll show you what innovating across a truly flexible fabric looks like, and how you can increase the velocity at which you can deploy and manage applications and infrastructure anywhere expected -- or unexpected -- demands may take you.

Ubiquitous Intelligence and Intrinsic Security
Over the past several years, we've been hard at work making VMware products smarter and more automated. At VMworld, you'll see how our R&D work with machine learning (ML) is allowing our products to simplify the lives of IT administrators and software engineers. Products that you know and love are increasingly smarter and more sophisticated in how they can sort through highly complex problems and either automate or recommend optimizations and corrective actions. We have plenty to show in terms of how products such as Wavefront and AppDefense simplify difficult management and security challenges, as well as how our platforms make it easy to run sophisticated intelligence anywhere in support of analytics, inference, and autonomous decision making.

Rethinking Hybrid Applications
Hybrid applications often carry the connotation of being applications comprised of legacy and modern components, but why does it have to be that way? Beyond vibrant open source projects such as Kubernetes, there's also a new movement where public cloud providers are bringing many of their key services to the edge. In that case, why not rethink what it means to build a hybrid application? What if you could go best-of-breed and leverage application and data services or platforms from multiple providers and open source projects, running them side-by-side on a shared infrastructure platform? Since our inception, VMware has been getting disparate applications to run together on shared server or desktop systems, and you could easily consider cloud services to simply be a new generation of application platforms. In that case, virtualizing those services makes perfect sense. For many of our partners, infrastructure is important, but it's ultimately a means to an end. If they can run their apps and services on a VMware stack, and our customers can benefit from consistent infrastructure and operations, security, tooling, and telemetry no matter where those apps or services run, then that's a win for everyone.

The technology landscape will continue to get smarter, more diverse, and more distributed, and VMware will continue to be right in the middle of it. At this year's VMworld conference, you'll see that we're continuing to solve the hard, but important challenges you face, allowing you to innovate faster while at the same time incorporating flexibility and operational consistency as design elements. I hope to see you there in-person. If not, check out the keynote live streams at vmworld.com.

About the Author

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

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