VMworld 2018: Reflections from a VCPP Premier Partner
Another VMworld event is behind us, and as usual it brought with it a number of key announcements, presence at the solutions exchange by both the usual suspects as well as a large number of newcomers, and also a continued articulation of VMware’s vision over the past several years: “Any Cloud, Any Application, Any Device.” While the event covered a vast breadth of topics, I’d like to focus on two areas that are key to the VCPP community:
- vCloud Director: Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, called out the critical importance of the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP) to VMware’s ongoing strategy, recognizing the 10% overall revenue contribution and 30% year over year growth the program has delivered. As a VCPP Premier Partner, this was music to my ears, and I was delighted to see the specific investments being made on the vCloud Director (vCD) platform. A number of key new features really caught my eye:
- Deeper NSX Integration: One of the barriers to more aggressive vCD adoption that has faced VCPP partners along the way has been the lag between feature availability in the underlying enterprise platforms (notably NSX) and availability of those same features within the multi-tenant world of vCD. vCD version 9.5 brings with it much deeper integration with NSX – in particular the ability to do cross-vDC L2 networking. By closing this gap, among others, and introducing initial integration with NSX-T it is becoming easier to look to vCD for larger, more complex client environments rather than being forced to a single-tenant deployment model that can take advantage of the full breadth of features.
- HTML5 UI: The HTML5 tenant UI has reach feature parity with the legacy Flex UI, and this redux also includes a radically simplified user experience. The extensibility frame initially introduced in the vCD 5.x train has also significantly evolved, including capabilities to allow extension of the HTML5 UI (previously only back-end functional extensions and modifications were possible). By moving toward a more open HTML5-based solution, providers now have much more flexibility in how they can customize and extend vCD to provide a comprehensive client experience.
- Roles Based Access Control (RBAC): Granular RBAC is something clients expect out of the box, and vCD 9.5 rises to the challenge with a revamped RBAC solution. Like many things in technology, RBAC requires a careful balance between simplicity and expressiveness. VMware has found this balance in 9.5 by providing a granular model internally, with management made simple and efficient through the use of templates and a thoughtful user experience.
- Solutions Exchange: As a cloud service provider, VMware is certainly a key technology partner. However, our clients require a more comprehensive set of capabilities than what is provided by VMware exclusively. One of most important aspects of VMworld for me personally, is the ability to walk the solutions exchange and engage with the broad ecosystem of technology providers seeking future partners. This year there were two areas that stood out:
- Security and Compliance: I spent considerable time speaking with a number of companies in the security and compliance space, many of them startups and newcomers to the ecosystem. Without a doubt this is one of the fastest moving areas of our industry and one that is increasing demand. Between the strides being made by VMware on this front with announcements such as vSphere Platinum (vSphere with integrated AppDefense), and the strength of the partner ecosystem I am expecting an intense few months of engagements with potential partners I met at the show.
- HCI: I distinctly recall at the last dedicated Partner Exchange event (before Partner Day was incorporated into the general VMworld event) reflecting on the relative lack of exhibitors in what had previously been a panoramic landscape of storage providers – notably those playing in the all-flash (AFA) and hybrid storage space. This year, as I reflect on my experience walking the solutions exchange, I’d say HCI providers have largely taken the place of startup AFA players. This shouldn’t be a surprise, really, given the continued emphasis VMware is placing on vSAN, vCloud Foundation, and HCI in general. As an at-scale provider of VMware-based clouds, I feel HCI is a technology that still aligns more squarely with the enterprise deployment model. Like all things these days though, the pace of innovation is staggering. HCI is something I’ve been watching for a few years and something I will continue to closely track.
VMworld 2018, like years before, was not to be missed. Our industry is moving at an ever increasing velocity and events like this are one of the key ways to stay informed. Here’s to looking ahead to VMworld 2019!