Has VMware become irrelevant?

Containers, Cloud, Automation, and Networking – I’m going to try and explain VMware’s next generation enterprise approach in a single blog post.

VMware’s legacy strategy was straightforward. VMware wanted as many enterprise companies to virtualize as many x86 servers as possible using vSphere. Up to roughly 2010, the strategy has paid off. VMware became the most dominant player in data center virtualization. Now as AWS is making a play for enterprise customers, VMware has a short window to leverage their huge market share to a next-generation data center strategy that appeals to customers.

The Cloud

VMware has a window as their core customers try to figure out how cloud computing will integrate into their infrastructures. There are business drivers and a small subset of the enterprise developer community that are drive adoption of cloud strategies. VMware calls this effort Cloud-Native. In short developers want the ability to react to business demand by pushing code directly to the infrastructure. Think of the model Netflix uses to deploy and manage applications. Devops is the common term for this operations model. The Netflix devops model is powered by AWS.

VMware’s core customers don’t have the same business drivers as Web-scale companies such as Netflix. VMware core customers still need to maintain thousands of legacy end user and server applications alongside Cloud-Native applications. The situation points to a serious challenge to customers and a challenge and opportunity for VMware.

vSphere marches on

VMware has continued to march along with their vSphere platform. vSphere is still a cash cow for VMware and a solid platform to manage legacy applications. VMware has steadily built its Cloud-Native strategy around its various core data center technologies referred to as Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).

The SDDC is made up of the various components of the data center. VMware’s hand is in everything from storage (VSAN) to networking (NSX) to automation (vRA). All of these components are tightly integrated with vSphere. These products all look to add value to the vSphere environment. All of the innovative portions of these products are tied to vSphere.

VMware Cloud-Native

It’s my view that VMware want’s to make their SDDC as ambiguous as bare metal hardware. If a customer wants to implement containers, OpenStack or any other cloud-like technology why look past vSphere? Why figure out how to manage the infrastructure for legacy apps, alongside Cloud-Native infrastructure? VMware’s argument is to continue to manage your traditional infrastructure with vSphere while extending it with solutions like vSphere Integrated Containers or vSphere Integrated OpenStack.

Too little too late?

Is VMware too late with its Cloud-Native strategy? Have customers decided to move on without vSphere? I don’t think the timing is an issue. I believe VMware has to answer the value question for existing customers. Can VMware defeat the image that vSphere has become too expensive vs. alternatives? Are customers starving vSphere environments until a transition to the public cloud is complete?

With all the competition and questions, I’m far from writing VMware off.