I have spent most of this week at VMworld, learning about the progress that VMware has made. I attended sessions, read blog posts and press releases, studied product pages, and watched the demos. I have to say – I am VERY impressed with the progress that has been made, and the leadership at VMware that has driven this progress!
This post is to celebrate the great leadership at VMware by resharing the interviews that I have completed over the last year. I interviewed Pat Gelsinger – CEO, Sanjay Poonen – COO, Raghu Raghuram – COO, Kit Colbert – VP & CTO, and John Gilmartin – SVP & GM.
As I am sure you know, I worked at VMware for a number of years. I left less than two years ago (February 4, 2019), and since that time, the company has reinvented itself. This started while I was there, but hit full stride soon after with the acquisition of Carbon Black and Pivotal.
Let me back up slightly. VMware has been core to the IT infrastructure that most companies have in place today. VMware invented the virtual machine, growing the number of customers who have adopted its flagship product vSphere to more than 500,000. VMware did not stop there but continued to virtualize the rest of the data center inventing what they called the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).
The products that make up the SDDC improved efficiency and dramatically reduced costs for companies across the globe. Things were looking good for VMware until developers decided that they wanted to build applications in a completely new way. They wanted to use containers to deliver the components of their new applications, using open-source software that allowed them to dramatically accelerate the process of building, delivering, and updating software. And they wanted to deploy these applications to the public cloud.
This new type of application is called cloud-native. It has been picking up steam for a number of years. VMware recognized this and started to prepare for it. Why? Because the products that made VMware successful in the past were not designed for this new type of application. There is more to this story, but it suffices to say that this change created the single largest existential thread that VMware had ever seen. The growth for SDDC technology was on the order of 5% / year. The growth for cloud-native infrastructure was north of 70% / year.
Back to where I left off. VMware recognized this thread and responded by making one of the largest pivots that I have ever seen. They extended the SDDC to run both in a company’s data center as well as in the public cloud. They extended the capabilities of network virtualization to work across traditional and cloud-native environments. They made fundamental changes to vSphere to allow for the support of containers and Kubernetes – required to support cloud-native deployments. And they create a new management tool (portfolio of capabilities) called Tanzu that supports both traditional and cloud-native environments.
And VMware did one more thing that I think was brilliant. They leveraged network virtualization, which already provided some incredible security capabilities such as micro-segmentation, to provide the industry’s best security solution.
Great Leadership and Management
The only way you can successfully drive this level of change is through great leadership and management. Leadership in defining the pivot that needs to happen, gaining board support, making numerous and large acquisitions, and in general being willing to take on the risk associated with this level of change. Management in executing on the huge number of changes required, creating the right organizational structure, putting the right people in place, maintaining the company culture, energizing the people, and delivering.
I have to hand it to VMware leadership. They are FAR from done. But after attending this year’s VMworld, it is clear that they are firing on all cylinders. They are executing the strategy. They are integrating the products and technologies from the acquisitions. And they are winning with customers.
I hope that you enjoy hearing from these great leaders!