VMware is nominated for three awards at the V3 Technology Awards 2016. The company has been shortlisted in the categories of Best Cloud Service, Best Enterprise Security Product and Customer Project of the Year, and will no doubt hope for a clean sweep.
Ahead of the event, V3 spoke to Richard Munro, CTO of vCloud Air in EMEA (pictured), to hear more about the company's busy year and what it has in store for 2017.
How does it feel to be nominated at the V3 Technology Awards?
It’s a very prestigious awards and so great to be nominated. We have been coming off the back of some difficult times, where people were questioning whether the VMware cloud strategy was the right one. But now we now have vCloud Air performing extremely well and we have our VMware and AWS partnership, which was another validation of our cloud strategy.
It’s been tremendous seeing everyone agree that this cloud strategy we have been working on is really exciting and to then have the nomination for the V3 Technology Awards is icing on the cake really.
What have been some of the biggest highlights of VMware’s year?
Overall we’ve had great take up of our cloud services this year but I think the real highlight was VMWorld in Barcelona. It was a time when everyone got to see just how our strategy plays out and they could see we’ve moved past the theory and are delivering not just a set of services that some customers need, but something that is a key part of the entire digital transformation experience.
That may be end user devices, modernising existing IT services or adopting hyper scale cloud services. People have finally got to see that we are helping people in all those regards, and the feedback we got from the show on that was just tremendous.
What are some of the big challenges facing your customers that you are focusing on?
Every customer I work with has an existing and large set of IT services and we have increased expectations of what IT can do now because cloud services have shown if you have IT delivered in a consumable way it brings a ton of benefits. It’s been one of the paradigm shifts of IT in the last decade.
But while everyone got excited about the idea of using cloud services and new types of platform and applications, the reality for most people is that they are using new cloud services on different architectures, most running new applications, while the vast majority of their IT estate is traditional applications that exist on various ages of hardware and OS and application versions and so on.
So it’s great looking at the Utopia, but the reality is that people in that situation have big deliverables over the next two to three years that they have to tackle within this set-up and I see three common challenges they face.
The first is cost reduction. I talk to people needing to reduce IT costs over the next few years, sometimes by as much as 30 per cent over the next two years.
The second is that organisations are more dependent on their line of business having IT capabilities, but while risk and resilience and compliance have risen in importance to customers, most of their capabilities around this and disaster recovery are not good enough.
Finally there is an improved alignment between IT and business, and that means firms are looking at how IT can help to deliver on an organisation's vision for, say, 2020. Usually when you break that down, it’s about having self-service capabilities, automated IT functions, being scalable and taking those kinds of capabilities and applying it to things like mergers and acquisitions.
That’s really the strength of VMware, and we recognise all those things, and we have stood up a cloud service that is genuinely agile, but fully compatible with all those applications and services.
Now we have gone so far with capabilities on networking too we have a truly seamless extension capability between customers' on-premise estate and servers if they have vCloud air, which is proving a real game changer. Because if you look at those three criteria, the issue of risk and resilience, our services like disaster recovery are just fantastic.
Customers like Hut Group deployed end-to-end disaster recovery in rapid time and got top marks on an audit just two months after completion, and they saved five times capex on other disaster recovery solutions.
So disaster recovery and other options straight out the box are very powerful, but by simplifying the environment around cloud services you get rid of a lot of fire fighting and legacy issues.
From a cost reduction perspective, organisations are often looking to close a data centre, or several data centres, and this ties into alignment in business objectives, such as around M&A activity. So as business sectors are maturing there is a lot of M&A activity taking place and that brings together a lot of technology.
So the challenge is bringing those estates together, and having that compatibility. For example, we have a customer called Zebra Technologies who did a $3.4bn deal for Motorola Enterprise Solutions and that meant they had too many data centres, with some really punishing daily hosting charges. But we allowed them to get control of those estates really quickly so they could start moving the applications from estates they had to get out of.
This didn’t require any extensive audits, or changing MAC addresses or anything like that, we just helped them get it done and stay working. In fact we have people moving workloads in during the working day and no-one even knows because it’s so seamless.
What does having a hybrid cloud actually mean to people?
I don’t worry too much about definitions like this. It’s more about what do [customers] want these things to do, and when it comes to hybrid cloud, customers usually want three things. They want their cloud instances to be consistent, to be fully interoperable and to be fully portable.
I think sometimes the other element of this is what people refer to as multi-cloud, so you have workloads on-premise and in AWS, Microsoft Azure, and some in other clouds maybe. As part of our cloud strategy we have a partnership with AWS that helps people manage this. As with our vRealize management capabilities, cross-cloud services, NSX for security and our networking capabilities can now all be extended to the public cloud.
With the AWS/VMware partnership recently announced, is this competition? How does that work?
I think central to VMware, with services like vCloud Air, is understanding what customers need from their cloud services and the challenges they are having and what we can do to help.
So our partnership with AWS is about creating a cloud strategy that gives customers choice so you can use VMware capabilities in the way you prefer. vCloud Air is unique and has been and remains critical to our customers and our own strategy.
It’s about recognising that customer choice means not telling everyone that they can’t use any other platforms. We had so many customers saying ‘We love VMware tech, we love AWS tech. I wish you guys would work together.’ So we did.
It’s about putting customers first and not being sucked into a generic industry dialogue that’s not very realistic to a typical CIO or CTO, but being interested in actually helping them with the situations they face.
What are some of the main areas of focus you expect to see in 2017?
For 2017 some specific focus areas will be around data centre closures and data centre extensions and disaster recovery in existing environments. Overarching that will be our own efforts to tie all this together into a cross-cloud architecture.
One way we are doing that is by standardising our capabilities on the vCloud Foundation, which is a service that customers deploy on-premise to give them a solid, well-automated VMware capability and have that same capability in vCloud Air. This helps them use vCloud Air by recreating it in on-premise environments.
Also we are looking at integration with other cloud services, like our partnership with AWS. So with vCloud Air we help customers deal with AWS because we have a ‘Hybrid DMZ’ that acts as a gateway between on-premise environments and AWS or Azure instances, and that helps control data flows or manage security inspections. It’s great for those struggling for compliance on hyper-scale platforms.
Taking that further with our AWS partnership, we want to evolve our infrastructure integration to work with them to facilitate application level integration between VMware-based applications on VMware and Amazon applications running on EC2. We can offer much better integration by being located with AWS and forging this hybrid cloud capability for customers.
So really 2017 is all about expanding in both directions, offering more integration for customers who want VMware vCloud in their own data centre and working with AWS to help those with other clouds.
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