VMware Senior Vice President and CIO Bask Iyer had some rather impressive shoes to fill when he joined the world's largest virtualization software company in March 2015. He came from Juniper Networks to replace former CIO Tony Scott, who was selected by the Obama administration to be CIO of the United States.
Iyer leads VMware's global information and technology organization and manages critical technology systems that support its worldwide business operations.
Since becoming the newest member of VMware's C-suite, Iyer has brought to the job a customer's perspective, because that's exactly what he was prior to last March. As CIO at Juniper and Honeywell International previously, he bought and deployed VMware virtualization products and services all the time.
In Part 1 of this two-part series, Iyer explained how VMware—despite its position as a company that has at least one of its products or services working in virtually every data center in the world—has had to face some new challenges. Hot new technologies, such as container-based IT systems, are trying—and often succeeding—to take market share away from the company's long-entrenched hypervisor and virtual machines products.
How VMware Is Branching Out in 2016
In this article, Iyer explains to eWEEK about VMware's overall approach to the market and what new things we can expect to see from the company this year.
Cloud infrastructure, to no one's surprise, will continue to be a mainstay for the company. Networking and mobile management, however, have become important—yet relatively new—target markets for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based software maker. Companies, such as Cisco Systems, Juniper, Brocade and others, are already on notice that VMware is beginning to trod into their territories.
"For some businesses, clouds may or may not make sense," he said. "But if you do choose cloud, and you yourself begin to scale and become a SaaS [software-as-a-service] provider, you start to think, 'Can I do it more efficiently? Do I want to rely on somebody else? What about regulatory agencies? What about different countries?' and so on. So a lot of SaaS companies have their own infrastructure as well. That's where we add value.
"Then, as it all plays out, we'll have a combination [of technologies], and battles will happen. Some will stay with on-premises [systems], others will move to public cloud, some private cloud, and some will be linked together in a hybrid cloud. There are conflicts everywhere. There have to be common touchpoints in the network for all these things to work together."
Old-School vs. New-Gen Networking
One of the biggest upheavals inside enterprise systems now is precisely in the networking; old-school hardwiring is being overtaken by new-generation, software-defined networks, Iyer said. Naturally, there will always be sectors and verticals that require physically secure, wired networks—namely regulated and/or highly secure organizations, such as the military, government, oil and gas exploration, high-performance scientific computing and aerospace.
But for the vast number of other enterprises of all sizes, this new world of software-defined networking is attractive for a number of reasons—manageability being foremost among them. VMware, which has built its reputation on data center management for nearly two decades, wants to become a major player in that genre in 2016.
"If you buy a network box now," Iyer said, "it's not configurable, it's not manageable and you need an expert to work on it. It's not automatable, the way it is now. Our vision is to make everything inside a data center software-defined for a lot of reasons."
Security is certainly another one of those reasons.
"You have attacks coming in at lightning speed; you can't have humans look at a log file and react, there's just no time," Iyer said. "They say you need a crook to catch a crook; you need a computer to catch another computer hack, and you have to do it in a nanosecond. That's another big value that we're bringing."
In software-defined networking, all the controls are in one place, can be administered by employees other than networking experts, and all the functionality is pre-policied by top administrators. Automation then steps in and does the grunt work of channeling various types of data to the correct storage and computing nodes.
"We offer a holistic view of an entire network," Iyer said. "In the last 30 years, we've become so specialized through programmers, hardware guys, software guys, DevOps, security experts. Then you have operations guys who run the data center, and then network guys who run the network, and so on. They're all interconnected.
"In order to address all of these aspects efficiently, you need to have a holistic view of the environment. You have to think of the data center as a fluid software entity. That's what we bring to the table."
We'll be seeing new VMware products and services coming out in 2016 to address exactly these types of data center needs, Iyer said.
AirWatch Will Be Counted On Big Time for Mobile Management in 2016
VMware hasn't been synonymous with the term "mobile" for very long, but it plans to be, and soon.
"It is a world of mobile," Iyer said. "With the IoT, every device will be connected to the Internet. But do you know what each one is doing? Do you know where they all are? Do you know how many IoTs you have? It's a mess and a half. It sounds all cool, till you try to manage it all. This is a good space for us to be in."
The company bought AirWatch for its mobile management IP two years ago for $1.54 billion. The Atlanta, Ga.-based division makes enterprise software packages that handle management of devices, applications and mobile content.
AirWatch competes in the same mobile-device management (MDM) market with Citrix Systems (which makes Xenprise), SAP Sybase, Perimeter, IBM/Fiberlink, Oracle/Bitzer, Continuum, Good Technology and MobileIron.
"Mobile is developing much more on the consumer side, and nothing much on the enterprise side," Iyer said. "Most people in enterprise just use mobile for email and calendar, whereas consumers use all kinds of mobile apps. In the past, we haven't focused on this that much; the market didn't seem to be serious enough, but we see that changing.
"We've developed six [mobile] applications so far, and we'll have 30 by the end of the year. For example, we'll have a universal approvals app for expense-reporting and other types of systems."
VMware is using and testing all these apps in-house right now and will be rolling them out at various times during the year, Iyer said.
In summary, whereas VMware has long been well-known for its enterprise data center software and services that only specialists have been able to use, it plans to break out in 2016 to many more users than ever before.