VMWare: Any App, Any Cloud, Any Device with Intrinsic Security
In a reaffirmation of the above vision which was first espoused in 2015/16, Sanjay Deshmukh, VMware’s VP and MD of Southeast Asia & Korea and Devan Parinpanayagam, Country Manager, VMware Malaysia, sat down with a group of journalists recently to delve into the driving force behind this continuing vision.
What has changed with VMware
Though the vision remains, clearer than ever, VMware has made bold steps to reinvent itself as a comprehensive technology enabler where what it does not have, it acquires. This is an existential need in order to stay relevant, nay, stay ahead. The company wants to be there in the journey to accelerate the digital transformation of every customer, in every sector – be it healthcare, retail, education, government and more.
It smartly surmises that there are always four elements in any digital transformation, in part or in whole, namely:
- Application – everything today is driven by applications. If one thinks of the impactful transformations in recent times, they have all happened via apps – Uber, Grab, GoJek, digital banking initiatives, etc.
- Digital infrastructure – these apps are powered by digital infrastructure where they either run in private data centres or in the cloud or multi-clouds. This is the engine that drives the car.
- Smart devices – many digital transformation projects, be it a citizen-services project or a digital banking project, will be delivered and consumed via the quintessential smart devices, from smart phones to tablets to smart glasses to VR devices.
- People experiences – this points to the need to focus on changing and enhancing the experiences of stakeholders, from customers to employees.
The pivotal role for VMware
No longer are VMware customers interested in developing monolithic apps which are neither scalable nor agile. Instead, people are moving to cloud-native modern applications.
VMware positions its role as providing customers with the platform to build these. While this is an area that is new to the company, it is not resting on its laurels. In fact, the company is in the midst of completing its acquisition of a market–leading tech which has pioneered the concept of micro-services and containers, namely Pivotal, in order to offer this capability.
Digital infrastructure is another area close to VMware’s heart. The debate for the last 7 – 8 years was whether to go 100% cloud. Then came the conservatives who worried about security. This debate has now all but been settled today. The company opines that the right digital infrastructure strategy moving forward is to go hybrid-cloud, multi-cloud.
Customers themselves will decide what applications will run in-house and what will be consumed as SaaS. VMware sees itself as the incumbent with 5000 customers running over 7 million virtual machines, no less, hence has a pivotal role to lead in helping customers get consistent infrastructure across data centres to the cloud providers and to multiple cloud providers every time, all the time.
This is indeed a big promise. The only way to do this is by partnering with all the cloud providers and making sure that VMware technology is built into their clouds. The company embarked on this two years ago by signing up with all the major players, picking through AWS, then Azure, followed by Google Cloud, Ali Cloud and then IBM cloud. Not long ago, the company concluded its partnership agreement with Oracle Cloud.
Now that all these hyper-scale cloud providers offer VMware architecture inside their Cloud, not only will customers eliminate the need to re-architect their infrastructure, they will have consistent operation topped up with intrinsic security even with data residing in different clouds and different SaaS platforms.
Coming to smart devices, there is a need to ensure heterogeneity because there is such a mix of devices out there, running on iOS and Android, Windows and Mac. Customer initiatives will encompass such heterogeneity and VMware must offer a platform that caters to all.
Last but not least is people experiences. The company believes that this area has been neglected as many customers had been too focused on the technology part of it. But the “Experience” part of it cannot be undermined because ultimately, it is the experience that determines App adoption by users. VMware sees its role as bringing on board capabilities to offer consumer-type experience to its customers’ employees while at the same time ensuring that enterprise-grade security is maintained.
The local state of Industry 4.0
It has been reported that Malaysia’s economy has advanced noticeably since the change in government and this is set to grow further following the government’s plan to allocate RM210 million from 2019 to 2021 to support enterprise transition to Industry 4.0. Indeed 5G services are rolling out across 32 sites in six states over a six-month period starting from October 1, 2019.
Whilst not disclosing breakdown of revenue by country and sectors, VMware revealed that government sector figures strongly as a top 3 revenue contributor to its top-line globally. The company in particular, is bullish of prospects in Malaysia, due to its high growth potential in digital transformation. VMware is invested here with a burgeoning office of 40 personnel. Pick any large CAPEX initiative in this country – VMware sees itself as the enabler that had driven that investment. For example CDC and IGS where the underlying technology is VMware’s.
Expanding on the fact that VMware serves a lot of Government initiatives, MOE Malaysia just announced doing away with streaming according to Science and Arts in secondary school. Instead, it wants to harness big data and AI to match students’ aptitudes to interests to university placement availability to employability.
VMware can dip its fingers in this initiative via infrastructure support – as everything can be run on applications. In fact, VMware’s engagement in the education sector has already been seeded – their tech is already being used in education in many schools and universities to extend learning beyond the classroom globally. Students are able to access these applications on their mobile devices in a very secure manner. This creates a level playing field so that not only the rich students can get access but even poor students can pick up an Android tablet and get the same level of learning experience. The impact of this is more profound at higher learning, for example, engineering labs, which are traditionally only available in the school campus. VMware is now also able to extend the engineering labs classes on devices using their technology.
As to employability, the company sees itself with a role to play too, i.e. by imparting training to professionals in order to make them more employable. For example, only a few months ago, VMware had launched Kubernetes Academy, a free, product-agnostic Kubernetes and cloud native technology education platform. Today, the scope of this academy is targeted toward professionals but it can be expanded to anybody who wants to learn cloud-native tech or simply to increase his competency in order to find a better job.
Muscling in on acquisitions such as Pivotal, Heptio and Bitnami, over and on top of what VMware has developed itself, has certainly placed the company in the best position ever to offer technology to its customers to build cloud-native applications, run them and manage them on any infrastructure.
In addition, now that applications run on multiple clouds – the company’s view for the networking of this is to have software defined networking – its solutions from its NSX platform, and the recent acquisitions of Avi Networks and VeloCloud – means they are able to offer the entire breadth of networking capabilities on a software platform, whether it is to do with firewalls, load-balancing or switching routing.
Last but not least – the all-pervasive security problem, it being the remaining piece of the jigsaw puzzle, had galvanised the company leadership into acquiring Carbon Black. Carbon Black is an industry-leading cloud-native endpoint protection company. The Carbon Black platform, along with VMware NSX, VMware Workspace ONE and VMware Secure State will deliver a highly-differentiated intrinsic security platform across network, endpoint, workload, identity, cloud and analytics.
The company believes that with this, it will bring a fundamentally new paradigm to the security industry.
Finally, there is the imminent mainstream arrival of commercial 5G, all of which will have a component where digital infrastructure or technology at the edge is required. The real value of 5G is in its monetisation for an enterprise and the enterprise space is exactly where VMware is positioned.