It’s been two years since I attended VMworld, the global conference for virtualization and cloud computing hosted by VMware, and it was a totally different experience for me. The last time I attended, I was looking through a different lens as an Operating System Product Manager. Then, I was focused on which software tools we could leverage for our Managed Service customers using colocation services. Now I lead the Private Cloud product team for Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS), and my goal was to gain intelligence to help drive a more strategic and differentiated Hosted Private Cloud solution.

Reflections from VMWorld 2017

Reflections from VMWorld 2017

After the conference, I sat down and reflected on the technological changes I have seen over the last few years. We’ve gone from using virtualized compute solutions to now the full software-defined data network, security, automation and operational tooling with log analytics for our Hosted Private Cloud offering. VMware is a true partner of ours and we’re impressed with their focus.

I captured a few highlights, along with a few observations based on conversations I had at the show:

  • Empty Nesters: Industry leaders like Michael Dell (CEO of Dell EMC) and Pat Gelsinger (CEO of VMware) believe that from a digital transformation perspective, we are only one-tenth of the way there. They believe that the next twenty years will be much more innovative and far surpass the advances we have made in the last twenty years. As Gelsinger described it, “tech has left the nest.” Technology-driven models are restructuring industries and how they do business, from the front office to the back office.
  • The swinging pendulum: Technology is like a pendulum swinging back and forth from centralization to decentralization. Think about where we started with mainframe to cloud, private cloud, and public cloud. Today we are hosting on-premises to datacenters, where most customers are using a multi-cloud strategy based on best placement of workloads. Basically, we’re moving from an infrastructure to an application-focused model.
  • Apps, Apps everywhere: VMWare is more focused on Apps than ever before and the ability to deliver these apps on any device, with any cloud and of course, securely. From my standpoint, the app focus is key for some of the areas we want to drive as a managed service provider. Products like NSX and AppDefense are getting us closer and will continue to drive our management capabilities up the stack.
  • Putting up Defenses: AppDefense moves security up to the compute layer and adds focus to the applications. AppDefense learns the intended state and the typical processes and communications and uses manifests to monitor and detect if things deviate from the standard. It also facilitates response or remediation. Such items could include suspend, snapshot re-image and can leverage NSX to quarantine or block entry.
  • A new approach: Micro-segmentation is a more current approach to transforming data center security, assuming threats can be anywhere (and are probably everywhere), then acting accordingly. Micro-segmentation not only adopts such an approach, but also delivers the operational agility of network virtualization that is foundational to a modern software-defined data center.
  • Make it Virtual: VMware NSX, the platform for Network Virtualization, provides additional components to the virtualized datacenter, combining hardware/software network services and functionality into a single software-based administrative virtual network. Key focus areas include:
    • Security: micro-segmentation, secure end users, DMZ anywhere.
    • Automation: IT Automation, development cycle and multitenant infrastructure support
    • Application Continuity: disaster recovery, multi-datacenter policy and cross-cloud.
  • Keep it Clean: We’re seeing more and more cyber breaches, so many companies are providing additional security services. With “cyber-hygiene,” things like least privilege, micro-segmentation, encryption, multifactor authentication and patching are key to curbing such intrusions. Sungard AS can provide all of these, along with the capabilities we can make available through our partnership with VMWare. This includes their NSX and AppDefense capabilities, which are in development and on our roadmap to aid customers with their hygiene.

There’s no better way to prove you’re on the right path than to hear customers talk about their own experiences. At the end of VMworld, I listened to one enterprise customer talk about why they chose private cloud and AWS (two of our own strategic cloud offerings). They agreed that these new cloud solutions offset old, obsolete equipment; provide flexibility for growth and expansion; and deliver a secure environment. The customer went with AWS for data archival, disaster recovery and burst capacity – the sweet spot of Sungard AS solutions.