I’m going to preface this blog post with the fact that I’ve only completed the 1st day of the Microsoft Ignite conference (2016 edition), so there might actually be more substance to some of the things that I was made aware of through refreshed chats and multiple large keynotes. I will also say to please note that
I had the privilege of attending VMworld 2016 via the vExpert blogger pass. Now, before I go and seemingly eviscerate VMware, I will say that I still do have a lot of faith in their product portfolio, but that only really comes from the fact that I know many large enterprise entities depend upon VMware based products to run their datacenters. I have zero problem with this premise (note the correct usage of the term). What my beef with VMware is about is their flip flop nature on all things cloud.
In 2015, we were treated to a VMworld theme/slogan in “Ready For Any”. It only took a single calendar year for that message to seemingly be tossed out of the window and be replaced with a message that felt like a major retreat from that idea of being ready for anything. In 2016, this message was replaced with one that felt disjointed and withdrawn from the prior year. Those of us that think more in a cloudy nature were treated to a batch of solutions that felt more like minor nervous toe dips into the pool of cloud than the prior year’s message of being immersed.
Contrast that with this year’s Microsoft Ignite. As my employer has just recently started partnering up with Microsoft on some major initiatives, I was not privy enough to attend Ignite in 2015. However, during some of the lead ups and into the first keynote of the day, it was easy to see that Microsoft truly has established a very good path for those using many of their applications, as well as those still seeking forms of IaaS, to the cloud. Azure is weaved through just about every fiber of Microsoft’s being right now and that’s awfully exciting to see.
Also, they’ve managed to do something I never thought a big public cloud player would ever do. They are working at taking a scaled out architecture and reducing it down to smaller bits for the rest of us to be able to run in our datacenters. This isn’t a simple bolt on orchestration and/or user interface tool to manipulate IaaS. I will admit that I’m awfully giddy about Azure Stack and how that’s going to be used in the service provider space. We may finally have a tool to our disposal for truly making hybrid clouds within our own datacenter.
I went back to a Twitter conversation I was having with Tim Carr (@timmycarr) shortly after VMworld 2016 and I realized that I had a near perfect tweet describing my issue with VMware and how to best portray it.
I have thoroughly enjoyed transforming the various datacenters with VMware based products. I will still remember my first vMotion and storage vMotion fondly. However, the harsh reality is that I’m not using any of their product portfolio that isn’t just ESXi. VSAN and NSX, to me, are just another way for VMware to continue a major legacy thought onto large enterprises that haven’t really worked towards making the application the king of their data centers. They still drive their datacenters through infrastructure first and will continue to do so until the economics show that there’s a true financial reason for refactoring/rewriting that major application they have.
I really wanted VMware to continue pushing out towards the cloud. I really wanted them to figure out containers and microservices. Instead, I’m left with a wide range of expectations that, as of right now, are feeling like they never will be met. I realize they are just my expectations, but after what I’ve now seen from other angles (mainly Microsoft’s), I can’t help feel like VMware’s time as an innovator is waning. They feel and seem like they have the anchor of the term “legacy” attached to them now. It’s a shame, really…a damn shame.