VMware Bridging Gap Between Traditional, Virtualized Data Centers

NEWS ANALYSIS: At VMworld 2014, host VMware is saying that it is ready to bridge the gap between the traditional IT and hybrid cloud systems and the software-defined data center.

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The technology portfolio in companies is dividing between traditional, reliable and structured systems and newer, agile, fix-it-on-the-fly components.

Traditional technology vendors, and VMware in particular during the 2014 session of its VMworld show, are eagerly trying to show that they can build bridges between the two worlds.

However, building bridges requires more than simply dropping off loads of components and hoping that somehow the bridge gets built. You need a skilled team ranging from architects to welders to make a bridge happen.

VMware doesn't want to be left behind as the best virtualization provider around in an era of cloud and mobile computing that utilizes the latest tools, platforms and business models.

Do you want a bridge from VMware to Open Stack? On Monday, VMware offered one up in the form of its own Integrated OpenStack distribution using the vCenter infrastructure and ESXi hypervisor.

Do you think that you will have to transition from the server virtualization model to container-based technology? No way, as VMware execs announced it has partnered up with Docker, Google and Pivotal to bring container technology to the VMware community.

And so it went as VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger championed the hybrid datacenter as the future of all things good in corporate IT. He called on the 20,000 plus attendees to be brave in embracing the new hyper connected, hyper-converged world.

While bravery is a noble trait, a realistic view of the world also has its merit. Gartner analysts have recently reported that a new bi-modal world of IT is emerging in the corporate world. In one mode resides the traditional infrastructure running those old reliable corporate apps and overseen by techies who understand patches, network sniffing and coaxing aging personal computers to reboot once again.

In the other camp are techies that grew up with cloud computing, IT infrastructure that resides outside the corporate walls, the smartphone as the application platform of choice and applications designed to scale out by using new database models, new programming tools and new programming languages. The traditional camp is necessary but shrinking while the new camp is where the business will find its future growth.

The idea of spanning those two camps with a common architecture and common set of management tools is appealing, but not realistic. While it might seem incredibly inefficient and expensive to have two technology operations happening within the corporation, that is what has been happening by default. The rise of Saleforce.com and Hubspot has seen marketing take a larger and larger chunk of the technology budget.

In addition to partially embracing open source and container technology, VMware is expanding into areas that the company once steered clear of. End-user computing via desktop virtualization and more importantly virtualized applications are now on the agenda.

Mobile device management and security, which formed a big gap in the VMware portfolio, are now a priority. VMware is supporting engineered systems through partnerships. The company is moving both vertically and horizontally across the corporate computing infrastructure to maintain relevancy and revenues in a rapidly changing world.

The pitch to the attendees was about giving them the ability to use familiar tools while moving to the hybrid cloud world. VMware executives described it as the "power of and." In six hours of keynotes, the company provided its pitch, but never talked actual pricing for the products.

Without pricing you can't really talk about the advantages of hybrid computing over moving more of the corporate infrastructure totally to the cloud. Also missing from the discussion was the implication that the increasing automated provisioning and management of software-defined data centers will require fewer of the IT administrators and managers that were sitting in the audience.

The bridge building talked up by VMware resounded well with the audience of traditional IT pros, but the VMware bridge also has to appeal to a new IT staff used to open software running in the cloud. That side of the bridge will not be so easy to build.

Eric Lundquist is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Lundquist, who was editor-in-chief at eWEEK (previously PC WEEK) from 1996-2008 authored this article for eWEEK to share his thoughts on technology, products and services. No investment advice is offered in this article. All duties are disclaimed. Lundquist works separately for a private investment firm which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this article and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made.