VMware Sets an Aggressive Pace in Blockbuster Week

Flying home from an exciting week at VMworld, it's amazing to look back and see just how much has changed for both VMware and Pivotal over the last two weeks. VMware’s acquisition of Pivotal, which was announced a couple of weeks ago, served as an appetizer for the week’s exciting announcements and seismic shifts in the strategies of these two companies. Here is my take on what I believe were the top three announcements.  

1. The Pivotal Acquisition: VMware’s M&A Machine Strikes Again 

Whether you want to call it a spin-in or a buy back, VMware expanded its own cloud-native strategy by picking up an asset that once lived under its roof not that long ago. Pivotal’s success in the market had been somewhat unmatched in the enterprise multi-cloud space for a period of time; the company had been quietly picking up the largest companies in the world as happy customers. But the momentum in the cloud platform space has been growing exponentially in favor of Kubernetes in the past few years and Pivotal Cloud Foundry’s offering found itself fighting for airtime. PCF’s success in some ways became Pivotal’s primary identity, while insiders and partners who worked closely with the firm knew how much Pivotal had also done for the enterprise Spring developer community and transforming the way enterprises build software through engagements with their services arm. Regardless, Pivotal needed a next move and VMware needed a “build story”. The acquisition seems to serve both parties extremely well and a quick close of the acquisition should benefit the firms and their customers.

2. We Live in an Apps and Outcomes World: VMware's Officially on Board

Make no mistake about it, VMware’s ascent and focus further up the software stack is not happenstance nor a wild coincidence. VMware understands that enterprise CIO’s and CTO’s will need to deliver both traditional IT services and significant business outcomes if they are going to be successful in the future. The new unit of measure in the world where IT drives outcomes is the app (or the microservice). VMware’s new primary focus is on simplifying the build, run and manage activities in the cloud, which will in turn deliver business outcomes. This means VMware's new strategy is less about virtualization, networking or storage and is instead cemented in Kubernetes.  

This shifted focus was more visible in what wasn’t said this week than perhaps what was. Monday’s keynote spent an incredible amount of time focusing on VMware’s build/run/manage story around Kubernetes and application/COTS workloads. Little was said about VM to VM migration capabilities or some of the recent services/products co-developed by VMware and cloud service providers. Organizations that will leverage the cloud as simple extensions of their own data center or those enterprises who are simply focused on recreating their existing footprint in the sky are not the future. Rather, VMware is anchoring its focus on organizations who understand the latest developments in cloud platforms and application architectures and want to take advantage of them to drive business outcomes. 

3. Tanzu: Making It Easier to Build, Run and Manage Modern Apps 

Regardless of what you are deploying to Kubernetes and where you’re running it, it's fair to say that the entire process should be easier. VMware launched Tanzu to do exactly that: make the process of building, managing, and running K8s easier with VMware products than anywhere else. 

The Build story of Tanzu starts with Bitnami and Enterprise PKS but is also rounded out by VMware’s recent Pivotal acquisition. Whatever you are building or running on Kubernetes, Tanzu Build has the enterprise developer or DevOps engineer covered. 

Where you start to see the strategy shift is in Tanzu’s Run story. Whether on-prem, on a CSP or running at the edge, Tanzu will help run Kubernetes. Take notice that VMware isn’t trying to push PKS into all of these locations. Throughout the week, the VMware posture and product updates assume a diversified range of Kubernetes clusters deployed to numerous locations and CSP’s. We heard numerous demos showing clusters in GKE, AKS and EKS as well as PKS. It's clear that VMWare’s offering will surround any/all Kubernetes distributions and managed services rather than trying to push its own. 

Finally, Tanzu’s Manage story has the ability to move customers leaps and bounds beyond how they manage Kubernetes today. One of the coolest products unveiled this week was VMware Tanzu Mission Control, a single control plane to manage Kubernetes clusters regardless of where they are running. This tool will surely land with much appreciation in the enterprise today where managing Kubernetes has become a full time job. 

If you want to discuss my take on these announcements, feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn, Twitter or you can email me at mkoleno@solstice.com