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VMware 2019 Predictions: Inflection Point of Boundless Innovation

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2019.  Read them in this 11th annual series exclusive.

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

2019 and the Inflection Point of Boundless Innovation

As we begin a new year, it's an ideal time to reflect on what's possible, and to strive to transform possibility into reality. 2018 saw a massive acceleration of intelligence, which is increasingly everywhere and in everything we do. Automation is changing how we live and work, and we are more connected to family, friends and coworkers than ever. If you step back and consider the one commonality in how our personal and work lives have dramatically changed, it's software.

Don't get me wrong. Manufacturers are driving significant innovations in hardware. Bringing artificial intelligence and machine learning toward the mainstream is one of many examples. That said, without software, we can never be truly dynamic. We will be forced to innovate while adhering to a number of unnecessary constraints. With software, the fabrics on which our applications reside can be just as dynamic as the applications we build. This year, we should look to leverage software and mature software-defined technologies to innovate for the expectation of change. Doing so serves to make us more agile and secure, while removing many of the barriers that inhibit innovation in organizations today. With that in mind, let's explore some of the key trends that are leading us toward a world of boundless innovation.

Cloud is No Longer Thought of as a Place, but an Operating Model

In my 2018 predictions, I discussed the notion of cloud services growing up and moving out. Decoupling cloud services from cloud data centers isn't a matter of right or wrong, but one purely born out of pragmatism. There are a number of constraints that are driving the continued investment in applications and services in the data center or at the edge. Those include data volume, regulatory constraints, application dependencies, and environmental constraints among others. When it comes to analytics, there are many use cases where the sheer volume of data created each day doesn't lend itself to be shipped to a cloud data center. In short, it's easier to move an application or service to the data than vice versa. 2019 will allow us to continue to apply a cloud mindset to a broader set of use cases, inclusive of data, analytics, machine learning, inferencing, and automation services that can be consumed and managed as a cloud service, but run nearly anywhere.

Edge Innovation Moves Toward the Mainstream

I meet with many IT leaders who want to drive more innovation through intelligence and automation everywhere they operate. One key challenge for many has been answering the question "So, where do I start?" As enterprises learn more from the successes of their peers, that starting point will come into better focus. VMware is committed to helping to amplify our shared learnings across industries, making it easier for more organizations to accelerate their own edge journeys.  As we continue to innovate at the edge, we will see an expanded need for heterogeneous management and security of our edge infrastructure and things. In addition, organizations will be faced with a number of strategic directions for edge computing. One option will be to invest in vertical solutions from individual cloud providers. Another option will be to invest in an infrastructure that provides the flexibility to run applications and services from multiple providers, as well as the open source projects and applications of the organization's choice. VMware will continue to focus on providing all of the flexibility and choice you require in terms of applications and cloud services, while giving you a software-defined edge that offers the resiliency, security, management and operational consistency that you prefer.

The Expectation of Change Becomes a Core Architectural Principal

Preparing edge sites to be more intelligent, efficient and automated than ever requires a commitment to build systems are can easily ingest new solutions. With a fully virtualized edge, you can add new applications, cloud-enabled edge services, and even network and security services by deploying additional software or simply updating existing policies. To that end, software-defined wide area networks will continue to see mass scale adoption in 2019. In addition, hyperconverged infrastructure solutions, whether locally managed or delivered and managed as a cloud service will continue to grow in popularity. Sure, people could rack and stack servers and certify custom solutions for every application, but in short, IT people have more important work to do than to build custom hardware solutions that essentially solve the exact same problems as their competitors.

The Days of Highly Static Network and Security Models are Coming to an End

When we look at security, logic tells us that it's impossible to combat a highly dynamic and continually evolving security threat landscape with increased layers of static networks and security. Our networks and security need to be more dynamic than the threats we face, and allow us the flexibility to quickly deploy software anywhere business needs require. We expect to see greater adoption of adaptive microsegmentation technologies in 2019 as organizations look to steadily move away from legacy approaches to protecting their networks and data. Network virtualization and SD-WAN will further reach the mainstream, and network function virtualization (NFV) will begin to make serious inroads in the telco and service provider space. Without these technologies, your ability to quickly deploy applications anywhere and dynamically adjust your network and security defenses will remain extremely limited. Granted, it's easy to read an article about the need to have a more dynamic network and security posture, but actually implementing such a significant change can be a challenge. That's why it's necessary to start small. Piloting network virtualization and adaptive microsegmentation technologies with greenfield applications gives you an easy way to get started and to build operational practices around them. In addition, you can begin to build your own institutional knowledge and best practices for expanding these technologies more broadly by the end of the year.

Achieving the Balance Between Velocity and Ownership of Intellectual Property

Cloud computing has shown us that many business benefits can be realized through the sheer velocity and scale we can get from public cloud providers. At the same time, provider-specific cloud services tend to be very sticky, requiring an organization to essentially forge long term strategic relationships with several cloud providers. That's not a bad thing. At VMware, we have a number of strategic cloud partners that run many of the apps and services that we consume internally. That said, like most organizations, we also build software solutions that are core to who we are, and it's strategically imperative for us to maintain flexibility and control of that IP. To that end, we are now seeing many organizations become far more strategic in how they govern the applications they build. For example, you may decide to build the core part of an application stack where you require ownership and control of the intellectual property should be built and managed using kubernetes. Containers alone provide flexibility for applications, but it's also critical to have an infrastructure for those applications that can run practically anywhere in the world. Otherwise, you may find yourself with a number of disparate operational silos that are required to manage small sets of applications, leading to higher costs and complexity. Solving that problem will continue to be a big part of what we do at VMware.

Striving to Move Closer to Boundless Innovation

We must always prioritize among a number of potential projects each year. As you evaluate new investments, it's a perfect time to determine how those investments can make your organization more agile, efficient, and secure. If they can't, then it's fair to question if the investment or project truly aligns with your business imperatives. Architecting with the expectation of change and striving to software-define your application infrastructure will make you a more innovative, secure, and efficient enterprise. I look forward to partnering with you and working closely with many of you on our shared journey this year.


About the Author

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

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.

Published Monday, January 28, 2019 7:11 AM by David Marshall
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