VMworld 2014: In Pursuit of Software Defined Everything

The theme for VMworld 2014 is “No Limits.” The phrase, printed in steely caps, breaks through a concrete backdrop on banners, T shirts, signs and swag. And VMware is walking the walk as well as talking the talk, according to VMware User Group (VMUG) director and Italian VMUG leader Piergiorgio “PJ” Spagnolatti.

“It’s the greatest VMworld so far by a large margin and becoming a true virtualization conference, not just a VMware conference,” Spagnolatti told me. I sat down with the systems, network, and security administrator to get the response to the show from the perspective of the now 100,000-member VMUG.

Software defined everything continues to be the leading trend, and VMware’s strategy is “on the right track,” according to Spagnolatti, as evidenced by the shifting of other industry players towards the concept. Software defined storage is coming along, for example, with several vendors showcasing their versions on the Solutions Exchange floor. It’s the “new kid on the block,” he said, with storage companies just beginning to overcome their reluctance to join the software defined movement. “Users and customers exposed a need for more holistic storage management,” Spagnolatti added. This made development of software defined storage inevitable.

VMUG leader PJ Spagnolatti at VMworld 2014When it comes to software defined anything, but in particular the software defined data center, Spagnolatti said that “the ultimate goal is to reach a level of abstraction that allows new levels of automation.” The growing complexity of the enterprise IT environment and the tendency of organizations to demand more out of fewer resources—making use of virtualization and cloud, for instance—make that automation a necessity, alongside ease of integration and use, better user experience, and overall accessibility of services. Those features are “mandatory these days,” he said.

The pursuit of these features, and of the software defined everything, isn’t exclusive to VMware, of course. VMware acknowledges that fact with its numerous development partnerships and vendor integrations. That’s where the vendor shows its openness to outside options and its commitment to a “no limits” philosophy. VMware has embraced containerization, for example, announcing yesterday that it will collaborate through joint initiatives with Docker, Google, and Pivotal to enable containerized applications in VMware environments.

The Docker partnership is especially impressive to Spagnolatti. “Emerging technology like Docker is gaining respect in the industry,” he said. Instead of attempting to compete by hastily throwing together its own product, VMware has chosen to bring Docker and others into the fold. The same thinking applies to VMware’s new Integrated OpenStack distribution, also announced yesterday. To Spagnolatti, OpenStack is something that people may embrace more in theory than in practice, but “even if people just like the name, it’s more options.”

“VMware doesn’t force us to use a specific approach,” he said. Instead, the vendor is choosing to provide options, and in opening up its vision of the software defined data center to other development partners, aims to transcend hardware and vendor limitations.

Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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