VMware was founded in 1998. Since then, the company has been innovating and transforming industries such as governments, healthcare, banking, retail, telecoms, transportation and more.
The company’s vision is helping customers accelerate their digital transformation through a software-defined approach. VMware’s trusted infrastructure has managed to pioneer virtualization and deliver one unique platform for cloud and business mobility. The company’s products and services allow customers to run, manage, connect and secure applications across clouds and devices in a common operating platform.
Welcome Hervé. Two years ago, we talked about cloud computing and digital transformation. Did something change since then?
Two years ago, big companies envisaged or started their digital transformation. Today they are in the middle of it, deeply engaged.
These companies do it because of the competition, cost reduction and increasing agility. The market changed from its starting point. Now we're in the digital transformation era.
Looking back two years ago, has VMWare changed its vision or strategy?
Two or three years ago, we started wondering how we can help our customers going hybrid, meaning, keep working with VMWare platform but outside customer’s data center.
Back then, our customers could either use our cloud providers (we have more than 2,500) or enjoy our strong and exclusive partnership with AWS. Our R&D developed our SDDC (Software Defined Data Center) platform on AWS, called VMC (VMware Cloud) on AWS.
This allows our customers to enjoy the best of both worlds. They could either extend the use of VMWare through our 2,500 cloud providers ecosystem, among which we can quote IBM Cloud or OVHcloud or via VMware Cloud on AWS.
But today, we have also a lot of customers using other public cloud providers like Azure, Oracle Cloud or GCP for instance.
This is why we also give the ability to all these hyperscalers to use and resell our SDDC platform on their native cloud infrastructure. The main difference with VMC on AWS is that this is not directly sold by VMware but directly by Microsoft or Google.
The result is that our customers can now go multi-cloud, instead of just hybrid-cloud like two years ago and all the time with a VMware based infrastructure.
How do you feel about VMWare’s place in the Enterprise World?
We need to help our customers, because the enterprise world is very much dominated by VMWare platform in terms of data centers modernization. Our customers want to keep the benefits of VMWare also outside of their data centers and open up to public cloud services. It's the best solution for any enterprise.
Some customers tried to go entirely on public cloud services and failed. Going cloud-native is great in theory, but in reality, it is very difficult, especially with all the existing workloads and legacy.
Can you elaborate the main challenges enterprises face moving to public clouds?
This is all about applications. Big enterprises have thousands of them, and they need help assessing where they are and where they want to be. They know that they need to use cloud but they need to know how and this can vary depending on the applications. Their big challenge is to smartly migrate applications to clouds and succeed in their digital transformation.
The second challenge is people. Clouds and digital transformation are fundamentally changing jobs, especially the IT ones in big companies. You cannot expect an IT manager to become a DevOps overnight, so we are talking about a big HR issue. It will take time to fix this, however the process is already under way in some companies.
The third challenge is to stay alive, because there is a huge competition with startups and cloud-native companies because they are more agile, cheaper and creative.
VMWare has developed a partnership with all cloud vendors: why do you think this is and what’s the added value for customers choosing VMWare SDDC over others? Why not choose the cloud player’s native Infra?
It's not a matter of black and white. Some applications may go native or develop natively in the cloud, but there is also this big history of legacy applications. The solution can be to re-platform them, but some customers have tried it and failed. I don't know a single customer that managed to completely re-platform all their legacy applications in a reasonable amount of time.
This option has been proven to fail 100% of the time. Using VMware SDDC Platform is the easiest and fastest way to succeed migrating and modernizing legacy applications.
But we can also help companies running their cloud native applications on the same platform. One single operation model, one single infrastructure, and different needs or different type of applications. It’s fantastic.
Is a unified management solution across all clouds is one of VMWare’s benefits and a game changer in its strategy?
Absolutely, this is probably our main benefit. There are two worlds, old and new, because assuming companies can go entirely on clouds is not realistic.
Probably one or two decades from now, we will still have to maintain legacy applications like Cobol and AS400, so it is the same today with legacy applications running into and cloud-native ones. VMware is also providing a lot of solutions to manage, monitor and optimize any type of applications running on any type of clouds.
How do you feel about customers who think cloud services are expensive, difficult to work with and unsecure?
I tell customers who say VMWare is expensive that they need to look at the indirect costs, like the cost of fully transforming everything and paying professional services for something that may not work eventually.
Companies know how VMWare works because we have proven this for twenty years now. Everything is now virtualized, and this helps reduce customers’ costs and increase their agility by simply porting applications into clouds and running them. Even more than that, if they want to come back - they can. Portability or reversibility are not an option when you develop Cloud-native applications: you are locked in, and customers want to avoid that. The VMWare layer is a guarantee that if something changes, they can come back to their data center or move from any cloud provider to another while keep working with VMWare.
What do you think about the cloud adoption experience in EMEA? Which countries adopt it faster?
The IT world is always evolving the same way: West Coast America first, then all America then the UK, and then western Europe etc... I put aside Israel, because it is a very special early adopter in the technology world. Today I consider all EMEA is significantly advanced in Digital transformation and cloud adoption but this will continue to accelerate in the coming years.
Do you know of any specific sector that shines as a public cloud adopter?
Overall, when I looked at the statistics of all we have sold since the inception of VMC on AWS, it has widely spread in all verticals: finance, public sector and retail. When you think about it, it's logical. Cloud computing is not a vertical cloud, it is really a way to help achieve a complete digital transformation.
Public sectors in many countries are ahead of the curve. It's interesting, especially when considering the GDPR constraint. A lot of companies are now happy to have a data center in their country, even if they had started their presence outside of it.
I know VMWare is actively promoting VMWare on AWS, because of the huge investment. Will VMWare also promote other cloud vendors?
Yes, of course. But this is not the same partnership. VMC on AWS is a VMWare offering sold by VMware. AVS (Azure VMware Solution) or GVE (Google VMware Engine) are sold by Microsoft and Google even if VMware can obviously support the Sales effort but we are not driving the negotiation with the customer.
We opened our technology for them, allowing the use of VMWare platforms, but we don't proactively sell it. It is very different.
It is also based on our customer's needs and the vast majority of them need multicloud.
To summarize: we are agnostic yes, but still, our partnership with Amazon is deeper, based on our ownership of the service and go-to-market and, again, we are strongly fostering our very successful partnerships with strong global or European Cloud leaders such as IBM Cloud or OVHcloud.
Do you see the public cloud vendors actively selling VMWare SDDC on AWS/Azure/Google?
I believe that it will come more from the customers. For example, when a salesperson in AWS has a customer who is also a big customer of VMWare, then it rings a bell. That’s how we connect and do joint sales.
At the beginning, 100% of sales were done by us. Now, we're seeing more and more AWS salesforce asking for our support or bringing us new opportunities.
Five years from now, how do you imagine the cloud computing arena?
We are reaching the point where the curve of progress is rising exponentially. What I see next is the edge computing being a hot topic. Balancing needs between central Data Centers, Clouds and Edge is a big topic already now.
Machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) will become commodities very soon, so this is another trend that’s coming.
From the standpoint of applications, the fact that we are now able to provide one platform that supports different types of them is a big advantage that has already started to bloom.