A year ago everyone wanted to know about VMware's big plan.
The company had just undergone a major executive shakeup, with CEO Paul Maritz leaving to pilot VMware/EMC spinout Pivotal and long-time CTO Steve Herrod departing to join a venture capital firm. Parent company EMC's COO Pat Gelsinger - former CTO of Intel - stepped in to become VMware's CEO.
And even though VMware had established itself as an industry leader over the past decade by making its ESX compute virtualization hypervisor mainstream in the enterprise market, it faced new pressures as customer interest grew in public.
To VMware's credit, at last year's VMWorld and throughout this past year, the company has articulated to customers, analysts and partners a grand plan that revolves around the software-defined data center. VMware wants to do for the entire data center what it did for the compute layer: Virtualize and manage it.
VMware also made the largest acquisition in its history when it bought AirWatch, signaling its commitment to the virtual desktop and mobile device management markets. In addition, VMware launched a public cloud named vCloud Hybrid Service to accompany its private cloud management software.
So now we all know what VMware's plan is, and the big question this time around is whether the company will actually be able to execute its ambitious strategy cleanly. VMWorld, which starts on Aug. 25 in San Francisco's Moscone Center, could be the place to see evidence.
Below are the top five moves we're hoping to see from VMware at the show.
VMware is one of the few companies with a head start in providing private, on-premises cloud computing software for enterprises, given the company's strength in the hypervisor market. Many organizations already use VMware's hypervisor and are comfortable with the management software around it. It's a natural extension for enterprises to use vCenter and vCloud Automation tools to build a private cloud. But VMware isn't the only game in town. Microsoft makes a similar argument with its suite of hypervisor and accompanying management tools.
VMware has an opportunity to be the leader in the private cloud market, so expect the company to make some announcements at VMWorld to establish its private cloud software as easy to install, manage and integrate with existing systems.
A second part of the cloud strategy that will be worth watching is the company's plans for its public cloud IaaS named vCloud Hybrid Service. The public cloud computing industry is a tough market with heavyweights like Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft investing large amounts to build up their clouds. VMware has a unique opportunity to offer a hybrid package that combines its on-premises software with its public cloud. (Again, Microsoft has a similar argument with its Windows Server, Windows Systems Center and Azure public cloud though). Does VMware want to compete in the public cloud commodity IaaS market? How will it position its hybrid cloud as the best in the business? Already VMware has positioned vCHS for disaster recovery and backup, but we'll be waiting to hear what other use cases it will be pitching for its cloud at VMworld. The company has said it wants to be one of the big three public cloud providers. VMWorld 2014 could be where the company makes its big move.
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