The future of VMware lies in the hybrid cloud, its CEO said at VMworld 2014 on Monday. But the company isn't stopping there.
Just one day after a 6.0-magnitude earthquake ripped through Northern California's Napa Valley — the strongest in 25 years, according to CNN — the first keynote at this gathering of VMware devotees opened with a deep rumbling sound.
On a huge, multiscreen display, a concrete wall began to crack around the words "No Limits" — the theme of this year's conference — as VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger strode onto the main stage at San Francisco’s Moscone Center in an explosion of sound and video. More than 22,000 attendees from 85 countries have gathered here to learn the latest about virtualization, in more than 400 sessions spanning four days.
Over the past year, VMware has felt the presence of its smaller, lower cost rivals, according to the Wall Street Journal. But Gelsinger's speech aimed to excite the company’s customers with big announcements and a review of its recent accomplishments.
VMware is poised to begin a journey in an industry where the core value is no longer "built to last," but "built to change," the CEO said. The biggest risk facing VMware lies in maintaining the status quo. Instead, Gelsinger said, he will hold the company accountable for what he called "brave" ventures.
"Change is inevitable. Disruption is inevitable," Gelsinger said.
In the past year, the company has partnered with several large names in the industry, including Google and Verizon, and has acquired AirWatch, a leader in enterprise mobile management. Gelsinger said the company would be leveraging these partnerships to forge new avenues of innovation — to stray from the status quo.
Gelsinger may have stolen the show with his entrance, but the biggest conference news was leaked a few hours before his address on Monday morning. VMware announced a new product, EVO:RAIL, a rapid deployment platform that promises to stand up a software-defined data center (SDDC) in 15 minutes or less. VMware's OEM vendors are slated to begin distributing RAIL later this year.
Gelsinger called EVO:RAIL "the fastest way to build and deploy a software-defined data center."
RAIL is the first in a line of hyperconverged infrastructure products from VMware that will streamline deployment of SDDC environments. The company also unveiled RAIL’s sister product, a cloud-based counterpart named EVO:RACK, which can deploy a cloud SDDC in under 2 hours. RACK promises "the power of EVO at data center scale," Gelsinger said.
The EVO series was just one of the announcements at the keynote. Among the upgrades and additions were: VMware Cloud Suite 5.8, featuring "fit and finish" changes; vSphere 6.0 beta; Virtual SAN 2.0 beta; a new product called Virtual Volumes, or VVOLs; and the company's rebranded management package, the VMware vRealize suite.
The company will also be diving into the world of containers through a partnership with Google, Docker and Pivotal. The addition will allow containers, a growing area of the industry, to run on existing VMware platforms and its vCloud service, Gelsinger said.
After mapping out the company's newest offerings, Gelsinger closed by reinforcing the importance of the hybrid cloud on VMware’s future endeavors. The company's hosted hybrid cloud platform, recently rebranded from vCloud Hybrid Service to vCloud Air, is not a way station to the future, he said — it is the future.
Gelsinger's claim is backed by research firm Gartner which estimates that by 2017, half of large enterprises will have deployed hybrid cloud environments.
Through the hybrid cloud, the CEO said VMware was poised to bridge the divide between warring clans of on-premises and off-premises evangelists.
“We believe we have the unique power to be the 'and' between these two worlds,” Gelsinger said.
VMware Senior Vice President Bill Fathers, general manager of hybrid cloud services, joined the conversation on cloud growth by saying the vCloud Air platform is active in North America, Europe and Asia, with new data centers being added constantly. Fathers also revealed that vCloud Air would soon include object storage, joking as he made his announcement, "This is about as excited as British people get."
To view more of our coverage from the show, visit our VMworld 2014 conference hub.