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This content is part of the Essential Guide: VMworld 2018 conference coverage
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VMworld 2018 announcements impress, but don't surprise, experts

VMworld 2018 dominated the IT news cycle, so our panel of experts offered their reactions to VMware's new announcements, evolving partnerships and maturing strategies.

VMware made a splash at its annual conference in Las Vegas this August, but VMworld 2018 announcements only inspired measured responses from the SearchVMware advisory board.

The biggest VMworld 2018 announcements included VMware's acquisition of cloud monitoring startup CloudHealth, its evolving partnership with Amazon that now includes AWS's relational database service (RDS) and a re-bundled vSphere package that adds AppDefense.

Though no VMworld 2018 announcements portended a major shift in VMware's direction, that stability also indicated a sense of confidence in its maturing approach to the cloud market. Despite previous struggles, VMware seems to have found a role connecting and enabling other cloud products. VMware also appears to be building on this success with similar strategies for emerging technologies, especially edge computing. Beyond that, VMware's core infrastructure products continue to improve and NSX continues to grow.

VMworld 2018 might not have marked a radical departure, but our experts came away with a variety of impressions about VMware's current strategy and future direction.

Brian Kirsch, IT architect and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College

This year's VMworld was about the evolution -- not the revolution -- of the VMware family of products. VMworld 2018 announcements included security enhancements to core products as well as a little bit of re-bundling with the vSphere Platinum offering, which now includes AppDefense. I'm sure third-party security vendors weren't thrilled to see the latter announcement, which you could tell by their absence on the expo floor. 

While VMware continues to support growth in the cloud market with its partnership with AWS, you're starting to see the slowdown of core data center products. The focus has shifted to one of enhancements and reliability over new features or new technology. VMware isn't a cloud company -- they tried that before and found that companies like AWS and Azure simply do it better -- so VMware is bridging the gap between the cloud and data center. 

VMware’s strength has always been in the core data center and we're seeing the maturity of those offerings. NSX continues to be a growth segment, but it's still at the fringe of most data centers. The Cisco presence is deeply rooted in most companies and the price of NSX continues to be a barrier for some.

With the maturity of VMware in the modern data center and its cloud-based offerings moving along well, I thought I might see more attention on the commercial space or even small- and medium-sized business markets among VMworld 2018 announcements. While VMware does have products for these spaces, the focus is clearly on the larger enterprises and the smaller companies are left for the resellers, which is a shame because the challenges for this market are the same -- just a bit smaller.

Trevor Pott, IT consultant at eGeek Consulting

My overall feeling from VMworld 2018 is that VMware is transitioning from a neutral, independent software vendor toward becoming a managed service provider.

The biggest of the VMworld announcements in this area, of course, is Project Dimension. Project Dimension is basically VMware Cloud on AWS running on premises. From one point of view, this is an important edge computing play.

Many definitions of edge computing characterize it as an extension of a public cloud provider's offerings onto an organization's premises. The basic idea is that organizations want to make use of a public cloud provider's proprietary technologies, pay for resources via a subscription and let the public cloud provider manage the underlying infrastructure, but for various reasons -- usually to do with latency -- they need these services located on or near their premises.

Project Dimension includes public cloud provider managed services on-premises, and does so while enabling organizations to use familiar VMware interfaces. So far, so good. Where the strategy really becomes apparent is when you combine it with the VMworld 2018 announcement that VMware is also enabling AWS's RDS to exist on an organization's premises. Suddenly, we're seeing proprietary Amazon technologies working their way into the on-premises data center -- that's a really big deal.

The VMworld 2018 announcement about ESXi for ARM64 further plays into the edge computing narrative. The relevant slides indicate that VMware considers this technology predominantly as an enabler for edge computing, which shows that VMware is thinking seriously about where it fits in the post­­-public-cloud IT market.

Overall, VMworld 2018 demonstrated that VMware has finally accepted that it completely dropped the ball on public cloud computing, it's never going to catch up and be a major player in public cloud computing and that it's adjusting its strategy so as not to fumble the next key markets to emerge in IT.

Rob Bastiaansen, independent trainer and consultant

This was my fifteenth VMworld and I look forward to the event each year. Whatever people think about VMware and its products, it's surviving well and continues innovating enough to stay in the market. The road it took with AWS last year led to interesting new developments. It seems to be picking up, as shown by the number of sessions around this topic and the customers who are using it or looking into it. The extension to data centers outside the United States is also good news for those customers. And the announcement of Amazon RDS on VMware is also an interesting move.

There were many more technical sessions on the huge portfolio of VMware products, but I also find it special that an IT company like VMware takes interest in other topics. In recent years, VMworld used the Thursday general session for non-VMware related topics, which they repeated this year. They also used the Tuesday keynote to have Malala Yousafzai as a special guest to talk about her efforts educating girls and creating better, more accessible education for all. This was inspiring and I hope VMware has set a trend.

This was last published in September 2018

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