“It’s nice to have competition,” says the senior director of VMware’s pre-sales division, Herve Renault.
He sits in Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai, nonchalantly sipping a coffee as I tell him that Microsoft has used VMware’s cost calculator to calculate that its hypervisor is actually cheaper than VMware’s.
“First of all, we’re happy to have competition, it means we’re doing things right. But let’s remember, hypervisors isn’t the debate for us anymore, we’re past that. You cannot compare a third, perhaps, fourth, version of a hypervisor with ours, which is at its ninth, you can’t. We’re past the point of versions and upgrading, our debate now with customers is what they can do with the existing version, because the rest has been put to bed.”
Renault claims that VMware are so far ahead in the virtualisation space that the company strategy has moved beyond product and solution development and has now landed on customer support and customer service.
“We’re talking about what can be done with the solution a customer has – end user computing, management, skills sets, etc., and we’re happy with where we are,” he says.
Renault tells me that VMware is now fully focused on IT as a service – leveraging customers to adjust to the demands of future technologies.
“Though we know not all companies are born into the cloud, they have to adjust. We are always trying to push customers to virtualise as the first step and then be ready for the cloud. And we’re not saying drop all of your existing apps, we’re saying we have the ability to virtualise your legacy apps whilst moving you constantly forward.”
Renault claims that the fact service providers are now offering low cost and maintenance free storage for data in a cloud setting means that businesses have to be very proactive and this has spawned a competitive nature between business and enterprise.
“If someone isn’t getting what they want from their business, they can simply go to enterprise and this keeps the industry proactive and competitive,” he says.
“You can always see the good and the bad in changing IT roles. The opportunity for service providers to take over what traditional IT employees spent their time doing is great. Instead of maintaining servers, they can do more interesting tasks, they’ve got the chance to learn new skills and adjust. Just think, in a physical world an administrator could possibly take care of 15 to 20 servers, maximum. Now, however, in the virtual world, with a provider like Google for example, one can manage 5000 servers. It’s a completely different scale, that’s what the virtual world gives us – a new scale.”
Of course with the increasing number of businesses relocating their data into virtual data centres and more and more companies using cloud services, mobility is becoming far more attractive and an on-the-go employee is a more productive one. But the virtual, mobile world is a dangerous one. However, Renault tells me that companies fearing the security threat of the virtual world may have it all wrong.
“There is no zero-risk in anything you do in IT. However, we do think that the risk is actually less important in this type of world than the previous one. Instead of waiting for a problem to happen now, we do all the right things in order to stop them from happening all together,” he says.
“Outside of that, there is an issue, in regards to the cloud, of where your data actually is. Firstly, people may not be aware that you can actually keep your own data. This is how our cloud works – it’s a resource pool, providing services whether the data is in it or not. The security side of things is simply psychological; you just need to be ahead of the game.”
But Renault agrees that you can’t be lazy with security now that the dimensions of the environment are changing.
“Obviously you can’t just put a fence around your servers anymore. In which case, our approach is policy driven. We embed at every level and we partner with all the major players that are developing virtual environment solutions to guarantee the most optimal level of security we can. To be honest though, I’ve not yet met a C level executive that wasn’t ready to move to the cloud because of safety. If anything, it’s safer now than before.
People attack data centres every day, the worst of which get covered in the press. Is this a reason not to virtualise? No.”
‘We’re staring down the barrel of IT transformation,’ Renault tells me. And the Middle East, it appears, is ready for that.
“VMware sees the Middle East as a fairly important region – there’s a lot of green land here still. We anticipate strong growth here in the next few years.”