CNME Editor Mark Forker spoke to Ahmed Auda, Vice President and General Manager of VMware Middle East, Turkey & North Africa, and Kit Colbert, CTO at VMware onsite at VMware Explore 2022 in Barcelona, to find out how the cloud computing behemoth is helping their global band of customers become ‘cloud smart’ in the new digital economy.
The Fira Gran Via in the stunning city of Barcelona was the venue for VMware Explore 2022.
CNME Editor Mark Forker managed to secure exclusive interviews with senior VMware executives Ahmed Auda and Kit Colbert to learn how the company has positioned itself as the go-to market player for enterprises looking for a multi-cloud experience.
It’s broad portfolio of solutions tailor and cater to the needs of a demanding customer base that are seeking to find a strategic partner that removes the complexity associated with a cloud transformation journey.
Ahmed Auda has been driving VMware’s consistent growth in the Middle East region, and he stated that digital enablement and multi-cloud are intrinsically interlinked.
“We are the only vendor that is truly geared to enable that multi-cloud experience that businesses are demanding in the current digital economy. At VMware, it is our belief that multi-cloud is a ‘digital enabler’. We know over the last few years there has been an exponential increase in digitalisation across all key industry verticals, and multi-cloud has been a real enabler for this digital transformation. Customers want choices, flexibility and autonomy – and multi-cloud facilitates this demand, whilst VMware also helps businesses figure out and determine what workloads work for their operations and business model,” said Auda.
Data sovereignty has been somewhat of a sticky subject in the Middle East, but VMware’s ability to provide customers in the region with access to their sovereign cloud offering has given them a real edge.
“Our ability to be able to offer sovereign cloud has provided us with a huge market advantage, as we continue to look to help our customers adopt and access the wide-ranging advantages of multi-cloud that exist across the board. It is important to maintain the need to keep our clients’ data secure and sovereign in each market that those clients serve,” said Auda.
Staying on the topic of data sovereignty, Auda further disclosed that VMware are driving a new initiative with 25 partners globally.
“It’s our job to work closely with them to make sure they adopt the sovereign cloud guidelines and comply with the directions provided. The ability to provide data sovereign solutions is one of the many advantages our broad portfolio of solutions provides as part of our overall multi-cloud strategy,” said Auda.
A strong theme that was prevalent throughout VMware Explore 2022 was the necessity to be ‘cloud smart’ and to remove the cloud chaos engulfing many companies on their cloud transformation journey.
When asked what it meant to be cloud smart, Auda began by highlighting the challenges that customers are facing on their journey to the multi-cloud.
“One of the biggest challenges we see is the skills gap, or the knowledge gap as some would label. The talent shortage significantly impacts how quickly enterprises can absorb and implement the multi-cloud strategy that they want to adopt. Another key issue is the volume and complexity of the applications that they need to migrate to be able to leverage a multi-cloud approach. However, once you run these applications after they have been migrated, the next challenges comes’ in the form of how you can do it in a secure and seamless fashion across multiple clouds,” said Auda.
In terms of what he believed differentiated VMware from other market players in terms of helping businesses become cloud smart, Auda claimed it was their ability to deliver a consistent and unified experience that is a telling factor in their success.
“By offering a consistent and cross-cloud platform to manage workloads easily across different cloud environments is a key differentiator for us, and we allow our customers to use the same expertise and skills that they have already invested in on their journey to the cloud. That unified experience on one platform to manage your workloads across multiple clouds is key in the current landscape and it is the perfectly illustration of being ‘cloud smart’,” said Auda.
He also highlighted their consultative approach as another key factor in their ability to deliver that seamless multi-cloud experience.
“We also provide guidance and enablement to our customers in terms of helping them understand when to adopt the workload that we think best fits their needs and requirements. We have the ability to expand quickly with a network of partners across different markets, who have the capability to build on the investments that they have already made in terms of offering a public cloud to the local market,” said Auda.
Kit Colbert is the CTO of VMware, and is one of the most highly regarded and respected thought leaders in the IT industry.
When quizzed on what the key characteristics are for enterprises searching to become ‘cloud smart’ – Colbert said from a VMware perspective being cloud smart was essentially choosing where you want to run an application.
“Technology is not holding businesses back, instead it is allowing them to really accelerate the choice of where they want run an application. I think in order to fully realise that vision we are going to need to enable these higher-level services available on-prem, in sovereign clouds, on the edge, or wherever a customer wants to run an application,” said Colbert.
During his keynote address at VMware Explore 2022, Colbert highlighted how Machine Learning was going to continue to play a central role in the future innovation of VMware’s product portfolio.
He highlighted three ways that they are supporting machine learning today.
“Firstly, we have products that support customers running their own ML. We have our own products that have ML built into them to make them smarter, and we also look at how we use ML internally to optimise our business operations. The first category is really all about what capabilities do we provide that enables customers to create ML solutions internally? We have partnered heavily with NVIDIA, and we have done a lot to virtualise the GPU with them that makes it much easier for customers to be able to run ML-based workloads,” said Colbert.
Colbert then highlighted the impact of vRealize AI which has been developed to make their own products smarter.
“We are starting to enrich a lot of our products with ML, and the quintessential example of that would be our vRealize AI product – which is essentially focused on enabling the system to auto configure itself. What we have seen is if you do properly optimise vRealize AI for your workloads then you can get dramatic performance increases and operational efficiency,” said Colbert.
In terms of how they use ML to optimise their internal business operations, Colbert pointed to its VMware Cloud offering on AWS.
“We had to work with AWS on VMC and tell them in advance how many servers we think we are going to need based on our customer demand. We use various ML algorithms to predict and understand the aggregate server usage to tell AWS what we are going to need, and that has enabled and empowered us to be far more efficient as a result of that process,” said Colbert.
Broadcom has acquired VMware for $61bn, and Colbert believes that it is a really good fit from an innovation perspective and pointed to Broadcom’s track record of building long-term successful businesses to alleviate fears of the company being broken up.
The acquisition process is obviously ongoing, and we know these acquisition deals take time, but it has been a really good process in the sense that it has allowed us to educate Broadcom on how we do things. From my experience Broadcom is highly focused on driving innovation, and I think one of the primary reasons Broadcom is acquiring VMware is because of the fact we do a lot of innovation. It’s our observation that given the competitiveness in the market in which we live in we have to continue to innovate, and my experience of Broadcom CEO Hock Tan is that he is very committed to building long-term successful businesses, so we are very excited about the acquisition,” concluded Colbert.