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VMware to focus on its multi-cloud management platform in 2018

Our Advisory Board members look back on VMware's progress in 2017 and offer predictions for the company's future in cloud, networking and security.

VMware proved in 2017 that it has come a long way from its virtualization roots. After a few false starts, it seems to have finally found its niche in the cloud market, thanks in no small part to the company's advantageous partnership with Amazon Web Services. All signs point to continued growth and development in this direction as VMware works to become a multi-cloud management platform.

It was also a memorable year for VMware networking with the release of both NSX-T for non-vSphere environments and NSX as a service. Based on these developments, it's becoming increasingly clear that NSX will play a pivotal role in VMware's product portfolio in the future, and that it could even become, as VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger claimed at VMworld 2017, "the next vSphere."

SearchVMware asked its Advisory Board members for their thoughts on VMware's year and what could be in the cards for VMware in 2018.

Stuart Burns, virtualization and Linux expert

Overall, this has been a very good year for VMware -- even better than expected, in my opinion. On the surface, there's a lot of new stuff happening, including a new NSX-T launch and feature additions to VMware Cloud on AWS.

NSX is the jewel in the crown of the VMware arsenal because, so far as I'm aware, no other company has anything remotely similar, and it provides all the functionality a security and network administrator could desire.

VMware's partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the subsequent release of VMware Cloud on AWS made for the biggest news of the year. VMware Cloud on AWS -- which is finally generally available -- is a VMware cloud on AWS hardware. VMware manages all the customer-facing items.

Although VMware Cloud on AWS is a good product, in my opinion, it's still a bit more expensive than it ought to be. That said, I suspect the price will come down over time.

VMware resellers have come up with their own take on VMware in the cloud, but instead use two compute nodes and Network File System storage, which reduces the entrance cost into the cloud. This method requires a minimum of three nodes due to the vSAN requirement of VMware Cloud on AWS.

From a business perspective, VMware has played its hand well and is forging strategic partnerships to suit its interests. It is VMware's hope that these relationships will help it become the glue that enables cloud mobility, a bold but interesting idea. Despite the naysayers, many customers have actually increased their VMware estates over the past year.

The big focus for VMware in 2018 and beyond is to develop a consistent multi-cloud management platform. Medium and large companies are adopting hybrid cloud as their default setup at a growing rate, and they are using multiple platforms to manage their environments. This is a problem because using different platforms to manage multi-cloud environments is a waste of time and resources, and it leaves a cloud systems administrator with more platforms to learn and potentially troubleshoot.

Another major area of focus -- one that has been relatively quiet in virtualization news for whatever reason -- is automation. Automation tools, such as vRealize Automation, provide a bridge between relatively simple deployments, which any systems administrator can do, and a full-on portal experience.

Although automation requires significant upfront investment, it streamlines the deployment process while maintaining simplicity and convenience for the end user. In additional to developing a multi-cloud management platform, I suspect that this is another area in which VMware will continue to grow in 2018.

Brian Kirsch, IT architect and consultant, Milwaukee Area Technical College

VMware's in a state of change as the software-defined data center (SDDC) gives way to the cloud. The lines that define where applications live have never been less clear. Just as server hardware companies have had to restructure their offerings, so must VMware.

Over the past few years, VMware has embraced technologies outside of its core virtualization stack. NSX was a huge shift for VMware, and it has become a massive profit engine for the virtualization company. While the cloud market is already full of established players, VMware is working to expand into cloud management and security, and will continue to do so in 2018. 

VMware has and will continue to push itself as a seamless secure bridge between on premises and the cloud.
Brian Kirsch

Although there's been a mass migration of applications to the cloud, some applications must always remain on premises due to security, complexity or compliance. VMware has and will continue to push itself as a seamless secure bridge between on premises and the cloud. 

VMware Cloud on AWS was just the first of VMware's efforts to create a consistent multi-cloud management platform with which to move workloads between on site and the cloud. This new approach to the cloud will likely grow more popular, and might even find its way to other cloud providers outside of AWS, though I doubt Azure adoption is in the future.

The other area in which I would expect to see continued growth is security. VMware has already made a pretty big splash with AppDefense, despite grumbles from existing security vendors. The ability to look at the application and OS at the hypervisor layer gives VMware a clear advantage over other security companies, and we can realistically expect VMware to push that advantage in 2018.

Paul Korzeniowski, IT journalist

There's no doubt that cloud has a major effect on the data center. Synergy Research found that cloud infrastructure revenue reached $12 billion in the third quarter of 2017, a 40% increase over 2016 numbers.

VMware's always had a strong position in the private cloud market because of its success in virtualization, but had less of a presence in the public cloud space. That changed in 2017, as the company put a big piece in place by aligning itself with AWS. AWS has been the most popular public cloud option, and it continues to move aggressively into this developing market.

VMware Cloud on AWS is a multi-cloud management platform that enables VMware customers to place hybrid and public services on AWS. VMware Cloud on AWS enables enterprises to run VMware's SDDC offerings on AWS. Businesses can now place VMware workloads on whatever platform makes the most sense: private, public or hybrid cloud.

As part of this release, VMware has embellished its cloud management story. The SDDC platform relies on VMware Cloud Foundation, which integrates vSphere, vSAN and NSX virtualization technologies with vCenter management tools. Enterprises want to monitor computer infrastructure in an integrated fashion so they don't have to work with autonomous management solutions. VMware now offers customers that option.

These moves should help VMware in the short term. In the long term, the company will need to carve out a viable niche as cloud adoption continues. As businesses migrate more applications to the public cloud, the need for VMware products could diminish, as it requires less overhead to run applications natively on a platform, such as AWS. VMware will need to clarify what role it intends to play in this ongoing market transformation in 2018.

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