Mumbai: Better known for virtualization—the creation of a virtual version of an operating system (OS), server or storage device—and cloud computing, VMware Inc.—a listed unit of Dell Technologies Inc.—is now betting big on a smart, multi-cloud world.

At the recently-held VMWorld 2018 in Las Vegas, chief executive Pat Gelsinger, put it thus: “Every business is a multi-cloud journey." The reason is not hard to fathom. As billions of devices get connected (read: IoT, or Internet of Things), computing will be increasingly be done at the so-called “edge"—at, or near, the source of the data. Technology vendors like VMware believe this trend will prompt companies to process and analyse data using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in a hybrid cloud operating model—one which embraces and employs characteristics of both the public and on-premises (private) clouds.

To be sure, while all big technology companies are touting such tech buzzwords with equal gusto, VMware’s aim is to offer its services on “any device, any application and any cloud". For this, however, it needs partners who in certain segments are also its competitors.

A case of this coopetition is the “deepening" of VMware’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), according to Gelsinger. VMware, which struck an alliance with AWS two years back, will now support the new Amazon.com Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), making it easier for clients to migrate to either AWS or VMware Cloud on AWS.

While one may perceive this as an over dependence on AWS, VMware chief operating officer Sanjay Poonen insists that in terms of the hybrid cloud or multi-cloud, the Amazon partnership has been a “game changer" for VMware. To be sure, VMware also has tie-ups with the International Business Machines (IBM) Cloud, Microsoft’s Azure, Google Cloud and 4,000-odd cloud provider partners.

VMware is simultaneously sharpening its focus on helping companies integrate their artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), IoT and blockchain solutions in the hybrid, multi-cloud world. For instance, Project Magna focuses on using reinforcement learning—an area of ML—to automate infrastructure by focusing on applications that best serve the needs of a business.

VMware’s vision for blockchain is to create an enterprise-grade service as envisaged by Project Concord. In the IoT space, the company has partnered with companies like Fujitsu and General Electric (GE). The partnership with Google (Kubernetes) is for containers (that pack more computing workloads onto a single server and are more responsive than virtual machines).

And VMWare’s Workspace ONE brings together the virtual desktop, AirWatch mobility, identity and common management for a multi-device strategy.

The VMware ecosystem, featuring “the most robust technology base and strong partnerships with AWS, Google, and IBM public clouds, is leading TPC (true private cloud) growth," according to a 16 August note by analysts—Ralph Finos, David Floyer and Stu Miniman—from research and consulting firm, Wibikon. TPC, the analysts explain, primarily provides solutions that almost match the cost and agility characteristics of a public cloud in an on-premises deployment.

The analysts explain that a variety of advanced, data-first application patterns including IoT, advanced analytics, social media, and applications that employ AI technologies to automate or augment operations and engagement, will drive demand for TPC.

Sanchit Vir Gogia, chief analyst, founder and chief executive officer of Greyhound Research, believes that “after a decade of owning the world of enterprise IT, three key trends are challenging (if not threatening) VMware’s dominance". First is the increasing reliance on public cloud. Second is the emergence of containers and third is a (sort of) resurgence of open source options (mainly RedHat)".

Acknowledging that VMware does have “a critical mass of customers that are already using VMware products", Gogia concludes that it’s the “execution in local markets" that will ultimately define VMWare’s success.

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