Can VMware exploit its VRealize refresh?

Battle beyond terrible packaging

Weekend at Vernie's

A few things are very clear about VMware's motivations. It sees security as the big money earner of the future. It plans to make that money through a combination of advanced automation, containerization and microsegmentation (NSX). Fair enough, they're not wrong that this is where the money lies, and they're one of the few companies out there with the expertise and the money to bulldoze their way to the top.

VMware also seems to have figured out that storage is dead. The storage wars have driven the cost of easy-to-use and good-enough storage for the mainstream so low that there's no margin in it for anyone anymore. Oh, a few vendors will still be able to make good margin selling stupid crazy fast in a high-density box to niche buyers, but that doesn't exactly sell in volume.

This means that we shouldn't expect VSAN to learn many new storage tricks in the coming years. We should, however, expect to see it integrate more closely with Photon, and even NSX.

More and more time and effort will be put into security, isolation, encapsulation and so forth. Product after product, this will be the drumbeat of the future for VMware. Hypervisors aren't secure enough. Neither are containers.

With GDPR and other next-generation regulatory regimes coming into play, there is a growing requirement to extend the concept of least privilege right down into the infrastructure. It isn't enough to hunker down behind the perimeter. One must design the network expecting compromise and limiting the possible scope of that compromise.

One must track not only what changes are made, but by whom, and who gave that individual, script or management application the authority to make that change. Reporting, analytics and monitoring are key; there is a growing requirement for push-button audits.

Administrators need to be able to say at any given time which workloads a given user context can access, and what workloads those workloads can themselves access. In other words, if a compromise were to occur, what's the potential scope of the damage, and are users or workloads being given more access than is absolutely required?

Here, I see disappointingly under-marketed products like vRNI taking center stage. This is where I expect the real growth of practical and useful features in VMware’s product portfolio to be. The expansion of monitoring, analytics and automated response is the sort of critical functionality I see being the hook that opens wallets.

So close

Finally – finally! – VMware has figured out that its future must include cracking open virtual machines to see what's going on inside. Vmware can no longer be – it no longer is – merely a company that provides software to virtualize your infrastructure. Everyone does that now.

vRealize may be the marketing equivalent of a broken-down barn where VMware has parked products it doesn't think are impressive enough to stand on their own, but contained therein are the keys to VMware's future. vSphere, NSX, VSAN and App Defence will get all the headlines. But it is the top-notch monitoring, analysis and automation tools in vRealize that offer VMware what it needs to stitch those products together.

VMware is facing a choice. It can choose to be another has-been tech titan with a bunch of products it doesn't know how to integrate, sell or turn into a win.

Down this road lie the likes of HPE's public cloud ambitions, Cisco's OpenStack ambitions, or whatever it was Oracle thought it was going to get out of buying Sun.

Or, it can choose to be the company that storms back onto the market with a turnkey cloud offering that integrates monitoring, analytics and security from the network right down into the VM and even out to endpoints. VMware can choose the arcane Microsoft path dominated by enterprise and government demands for special licensing deals, or they can kick Amazon in the teeth and redefine how we think about computing for the next ten years. Stasis or surprise.

The technology is ready. VMware has picked a direction. Now we see if there's still someone running the thing who's bold enough to win. ®

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