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VMware 2017 Predictions: The Third Industrial Revolution - 2017 and Beyond

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Chris Wolf, Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, Americas, VMware

The Third Industrial Revolution: 2017 and Beyond

The late nineteenth century marked a monumental period in our history, with the Second Industrial Revolution bringing massive innovation at a pace not seen before in our history. The internal combustion engine and petroleum powered new machines, interchangeable parts provided greater agility, and assembly lines created a pace of manufacturing speed previously unimaginable. Fast forward to today and we are now facing a new revolution based on very similar themes. IoT and intelligent "things" are changing every aspect of our lives, and artificial intelligence, automation and agility are fueling a pace of innovation that is once again revolutionary. Furthermore, cloud computing has democratized software innovation, allowing anyone - anywhere - to quickly bring new ideas and technologies to market. 

Industrial revolutions are not just big bang flashes of technology breakthroughs, but rather the result of countless incremental advancements that ultimately culminate in what we look back upon as significant historical innovations. 2017 will bring many of those incremental but historically significant enabling innovations into the mainstream. In this post, I will focus on mainstream innovations right around the corner, and in my next post I'll dive deeper into the revolutionary technologies hitting mainstream beyond 2017.

Hyperconverged Goes Mainstream

Over the last several years, I have consistently asked the same question in meetings - "Do you see agile, programmatic infrastructure as a business differentiator, or something you just need to do to stay competitive?" Whether that infrastructure is managed in a private data center or consumed as part of a cloud service, IT leaders consistently see it as "table stakes" and not a differentiator. That said, it's no wonder that hyperconverged infrastructure solutions have grown so rapidly because they allow IT organizations to take a simple, modular infrastructure approach which frees more time for differentiation. 2016 was a huge hyperconverged infrastructure growth year, with vSAN customers now numbering greater than 6,000 to go along with hundreds of VxRail customers.

Going forward, there has been tremendous interest in Cloud Foundation. Cloud Found provides true hyperconverged infrastructure in that it includes software-defined compute, networking, storage and security in an easy to deploy and maintain form factor. Not only are deployments simple, but all infrastructure software upgrades are streamlined as well. Cloud Foundation deployments can even scale to major VMware public cloud partners such as AWS, IBM, OVH and of course, vCloud Air. The assortment of open source PaaS integrations such as Docker, Cloud Foundry, and Kubernetes allow enterprises to take a more modular approach to infrastructure without fear of lock-in. In 2016, investments in hyperconverged were seen as smart, pragmatic moves. In 2017, those investments will be considered "No-brainers."

SDN Revolution Builds Momentum

To do software-defined networking (SDN) right, revolutionary approaches are required. New software delivery paradigms require new approaches applied in an evolutionary way - not with a full lift and shift but instead by breaking ground with a single application at first. Early this year I noted how the 90s called and wanted their DMZ back. We're on the cusp of something very special in the history of networking and security - a major shift in how we interconnect and secure workloads. Workload security can now be managed by application name (like a globally unique identifier) instead of by an IP address - an arbitrary number that creates significant work for security teams each time an application is moved or redeployed somewhere else. Basing security on the application name allows the security context to simply follow the application - no matter where it goes. Regarding network security, ten years from now we'll be looking back and asking ourselves "Can you believe we ever used to do it that way?" 2017 marks a year when organizations will have to make a critical decision. Do you continue to evolve network and security using a hardware-based legacy architecture that is convenient for IT? Or do you go with a software-based approach that offers greater agility and security?

True SDN such as VMware NSX will be used by thousands of enterprises in 2017 to take their network and security operations a monumental leap forward. Complete network stacks, inclusive of load balancing and security will be deployed in minutes and managed across multiple data centers and clouds. Through micro-segmentation, applications will realize security granularity equivalent to each application having a dedicated data center. This solution will also lay the groundwork for end-to-end network encryption, which has long been interesting but elusive. End-to-end network encryption is only possible when you remove hardware dependencies, which have long been a network encryption scalability barrier. The NSX platform is extensible, allowing third party network and security solutions to integrate wherever necessary. That provides the capability to scale solutions like network encryption in the future while still maintaining any needed third party network or security integrations. Note that these concepts are not some crazy VMware idea. Major public cloud providers are on the same path. The difference with NSX, however, is that it's multi-data center and multi-cloud by design. That gives you a consistent network and security operational plane, regardless of where a workload resides.

We will always need purpose-built network hardware, and there will continue to be significant hardware innovations. That said, 2017 will bring maturity to the space where organizations see through the fact that SDN with proprietary hardware requirements isn't SDN - it's clever marketing.

Globally Consistent Infrastructure as Code

Programmatic infrastructure has moved from nice-to-have to a core requirement in support of business agility because increasingly all applications require programmatic compute, network, storage and security services. That notion holds true, regardless of the application, whether it's traditional, containerized, serverless, and so-on. In 2016, I saw significant maturity in the PaaS and container markets in the sense that vendors in the ecosystem are becoming more comfortable with the roles they will play. No one vendor can do everything exceptionally well and I've seen vendors in the container and PaaS space more eager to partner with infrastructure vendors, and vice-versa. VMware's role has been to make all of the programmatic infrastructure services, simple, scalable, and secure, while exposed through native container or PaaS APIs. That's a model that works well for all parties involved. Going forward, our work in Cross-Cloud Services, VMware Cloud on AWS, IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions, and strengthening our vCloud Air Network is allowing organizations to support any application, container, open PaaS solution and whatever may come next with a globally consistent infrastructure and operational layer. So no matter where an application runs, you will get consistent operations management and processes, inclusive of security, audit, networking, data management, performance management, SLA enforcement, backup, disaster recovery, and more. While containers and PaaS provide application delivery and runtime consistency, VMware is completing the stack with the same operational consistency regardless of data center or cloud. Over time, the notion of "VMware Inside" will become synonymous with globally consistent infrastructure as code, and 2017 will represent a huge step toward that end goal.

End User Computing is Increasingly Strategic

Today, EUC isn't just cool and exciting, it's increasingly strategic. Take the Coca Cola Freestyle machine, for example. Coca Cola didn't change soda - it changed the social experience of consuming soda. My son is a believer. He can make his own custom soda with the Coca Cola mobile app, share the custom QR code with friends, and they can try his new soda at any Coca Cola Freestyle machine. Another great example is with the Home Depot mobile app. Home Depot is so vast that it could take as long to find what you're looking for as it did to drive there in the first place. However, now a quick search the mobile app will no tell me exactly where to find anything in the store. CVS Minute Clinic is one more great example. If I need quick healthcare, I can get myself a place in line using the CVS mobile app, and head over to my nearest CVS once they are ready to see me. Minute Clinic has made quick health care super convenient, and is one more example of a business that sees mobile and EUC as something more than just supporting end users. EUC is also about building new customer intimacy and for organizations like CVS, the cornerstone for the launch of a new business initiative.

EUC is one of the fastest and most exciting areas of IT, and I haven't even touched on the Internet of Things (IoT) implications. More on that in my next post! To that end, enterprises are increasingly centralizing EUC decision making because it crosses laptops, desktops, web, mobile, identity, smart devices, content, and user or consumer experience. Just as how the maturation of cloud brought about new roles like the cloud architect, 2017 will bring in the increasingly strategic role of Digital Architect.

As we enter the Third Industrial Revolution, all of us in IT will see significant yet exciting changes in the coming years. 2017 will be a key turning point, as we will realize massive adoption of the underlying technologies that empower agility, redefine our approach to security, and make data, flexibility and customer intimacy even more strategic.

Throughout this week on Radius, VMware executives will provide their perspectives and predictions on key technology areas including Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Cloud-Native Applications and Security. Stay tuned next week for the second part of my post as I look beyond 2017.


About the Author

Chris serves as a partner and trusted adviser to VMware's customers in the Americas, and also collaborates with the IT and business community at large on cloud, mobile, virtualization and data center modernization strategies. Chris and his peers in the Office of the CTO work closely with VMware's product teams to ensure that VMware's future innovations align with essential market needs.

Prior to joining VMware, Chris was a Research Vice President for Gartner's Technical Professionals service, where he managed the data center and private cloud research agenda., He was also a founding member of the Data Center Strategies team at Burton Group, was a nationally recognized independent virtualization consultant, instructor at multiple colleges, worked for several years at CommVault Systems, and started his IT and technology career in the US Marines. 

Chris Wolf


Published Tuesday, December 06, 2016 11:01 AM by David Marshall
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