VMware Explore - VMware focuses on cloud journeys and AI implementations

Mark Samuels Profile picture for user Mark Samuels November 7, 2023
The keynote speech at the tech event in Barcelona highlights new products and the future direction of travel for the company.

Raghu Raghuram

VMware has announced new features and expanded partnerships that it hopes will boost its multi-cloud approach and its commitment to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

At VMware Explore in Barcelona, CEO Raghu Raghuram outlined where the technology giant is likely to go next and suggested the company will focus on two areas:

There are two key themes for this event. One is your cloud journey, and the second is generative AI.

Before a deep dive into product announcements, Raghuram talked about progress on the soon-to-be-completed acquisition of VMware by Broadcom. Raghuram said 2023 represents the 25th year of VMware, but that the most important milestone took place last May, when the company announced it was joining forces with Broadcom:

I've been working with [Broadcom CEO] Hok Tan for nearly 17 months now and I can tell you he is even more excited about the potential of VMware going forward than he was last May.

He introduced Tan to the stage, who gave a brief analysis of the long-term plan. He said he’s been involved in lots of conversations with VMware customers during the past 18 months and there are three core commitments:

We will accelerate the pace of innovation through step-up and R&D investments. Next, we intend to invest much more in the VMware ecosystem with our partners, the value-added resellers, distributors, OEMs, service providers and global system integrators in order to make our products more available and much easier to deploy and consume. Finally, we will make ourselves and our products easier to deal with.

 The multi-cloud journey

Raghuram said when he talked with customers about their move on-demand three or four years, he noticed cloud journeys were becoming multi-cloud. During the past few years, multi-cloud has become the accepted way of running and managing workloads:

In other words, you were using not only your private cloud, and a single public cloud, but multiple public clouds. Today, that is the norm. In fact, more than three-fourths of you are using two or more public clouds, in addition to going strong on your private cloud. Some of you are building out of the edge as well.

VMware has created Cloud Smart, which is an architectural approach that lets applications and their requirements decide the best place to deploy a service in the private or public cloud. All these applications are then tied together with common management and security:

We have many customers that have benefited from these solutions over the last few years. Over the last year, our teams have been working really hard at advancing the portfolio. And now, we’ve got some exciting new innovations.

Purnima Padmanabhan, SVP at VMware, told attendees that VMware Cloud Foundation continues to grow in terms of providing a single infrastructural stack:

We have solved a lot of problems. But we know there is more work that needs to be done. And we will keep the relentless pace of innovation.

VMware said the Sovereign Cloud platform, which is its framework for on-demand IT provision, now has 57 partners. This capability is being augmented by new features and data services, AI functionalities and security add-ons. Developer-centric tools, meanwhile, such as VMware Tanzu and VMware NSX, will enable rapid application delivery with controls around data flow.

The firm also announced advanced automation capabilities for its Anywhere Workspace platform, which helps businesses deploy applications on its cloud infrastructure. Raghuram said these developments in combination represent the latest stage of innovation:

Over the last few years, we have invested in a portfolio of solutions to help you along this multi-cloud journey, adopting this Cloud Smart approach to help you accelerate the build out and delivery of your modern applications, to modernise your private and hybrid cloud infrastructure and extend it to the cloud, to be able to deliver these modern digital experience to your hybrid workforce, and to extend your infrastructure as needed. And last but not least, to build out this new class of infrastructure to deliver private AI.

Embracing AI

During the keynote speech, VMware Vice-President Chris Wolf said the company is seeing new generative AI uses case across the board, whether for code generation, content creation or customer support. He said the potential for VMware is significant and the company wants to help its customers exploit developments in AI successfully:

Data and compute is AI. We're continually looking to move models and compute resources to where data is created, processed, or consumed. Privacy is a global concern for all of our customers and partners. And that is what led us to Private AI.

The company had announced Private AI earlier this year, which is an architectural approach that allows enterprises to balance the business gains of AI with privacy and compliance. Wolf acknowledged that companies won’t be able to rely on a single stack to deal with all the demands of AI. As well as privacy, companies will need flexibility and choices, said Raghuram in a press conference following the keynote speech:

What we are hearing from our customers is there is a very significant interest in running AI workloads on top of their VMware Cloud Foundation infrastructure, for all the reasons of privacy and compute. The other thing our customers are saying is that they want this to be a shared resource. So, for all of these reasons, we think better resource management, as well as workload management is going to be critical.

Earlier this year, VMware also announced its VMware Private AI Foundation with Nvidia. This foundation allows companies to create a project, customise the model, build an AI co-pilot, and then deploy it. At Barcelona, the company announced it is extending this approach through partnerships with two other major companies.

One of the initiatives VMware announced in Barcelona is VMware Private AI with Intel, a collaborative effort between the two tech companies that will help enterprises build and deploy AI models. Another initiative that VMware launched is a collaboration between IBM and VMware, which brings IBM watsonx to on-premises environments.

Raghuram said he’s pleased industry and governments are working together to deal with some of the key challenges associated to AI. However, there is still much work to be done:

We are in favor of this dialog with Nvidia and other agencies that are involved in these topics across all the countries where we operate. There's a lot of room for innovation here.

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