VMworld Europe – An insider’s view

Tikiri Wanduragala

Friday 30 October 2015

Tikiri Wanduragala, Lenovo’s EMEA x86 Server Systems Snr. Consultant, writes for Think Progress about VMworld Europe 2015

So, another VMworld Europe is over. This year’s event, in beautiful Barcelona, attracted 10,000 people. That’s quite a change from the first VMworld Europe I attended many years ago, when VMware was pushing its ESX Hypervisor. That gives you an indication of how long ago it was! The growth over the last few years has been incredible and the size and scale of the event now is amazing.

Before we get down to the real themes and concerns of the show, it’s worth mentioning the big news that broke at the start of the week: Dell buying EMC, which, as I’m sure you know, owns a majority stake in VMware.

While it was obviously too soon for many people to fully comprehend what the deal would mean for them, there was a bit of concern about it. The general feeling among IT workers I spoke to was that they have enough to worry about without getting too worked up about the deal!

OK, back to the content of the show. The main technology theme that was on everybody’s mind was the idea of ‘software-defined,’ whether is was the data centre or hyper-convergence. That was a big talking point across customers and suppliers; a lot of people realise it’s early days but they want to know how to place themselves to exploit this technology.

The question that came out of a lot of customer meetings was: What do we need to do to make sure we capture this? And the presentation I gave touched on this. It was really about the business value of software-defined, and one of the points I brought across was that in the world of hyper-convergence/software-defined, there is a need to break down the silos.

Businesses traditionally have had silos of storage, servers, networking, and the software stack as well. When you’re entering this software-defined world you’re seeing virtualisation moving across the different areas, across the different silos. So these silos need to be broken down in order to fully see the benefits of software-defined.

That’s why in this new world businesses have to think differently about the underlying infrastructure. There is a lot riding on those machines – server, storage, network. A lot of the customers I spoke to at VMworld Europe were interested in the hardware we were showing off, even though it was mainly a software show. People coming to the Lenovo stand were interested in reliability, large memory capacity, the management of these machines… things you need in order to be software-defined.

In fact, management also played a big part in some of the presentations I saw. Lenovo’s XClarity solution generated a lot of interest. Its trick is to manage the hardware and then pass the information up to other management layers. The higher up the chain, the more efficient the decision you can make. It’s about moving management from being reactive to being proactive. It changes the game; you are managing resources rather than reacting to failures.

Hopefully by now you have seen the video we put together at the show. I have to say, all the credit really should go to the crew for that one! They did such a great job of pulling it all together, from finding interesting things to film to ensuring I could be heard over the very loud background noise. These events can be very noisy!

The nature of the beast means it can be very difficult to plan ahead with these things because you don’t know in advance exactly what or who will be interesting enough to film or interview. So, like I said, credit has to go to the crew for making such as good job of it. These videos are something we at Lenovo want to do more of at future events, for sure.

Talking of the future, the days after big events like this are always a good time to think ahead. What will next year’s VMworld Europe be like? I think the software-defined story will be much more established. I think we will probably hear much more about real world use cases of it instead of discussion about how it can benefit businesses and how they can embrace it.

I think as well that we will see fewer players. Relatively young industries such as software-defined always see mergers, acquisitions and consolidation, so I expect next year’s event to perhaps have fewer but bigger companies dominating.

Next for me it’s a trip to Germany, where we will be holding mini events called ‘Study Tours.’ This is where we gather together a small group of our customers, maybe 20 or so, and talk to them about their needs, and discuss our product roadmap. We also bring in some of our partners, such as software providers, to really give our customers an idea about what we can do to help them.

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