From Virtual Machines to Kubernetes and More Power to Developers: A VMware Explore 2022 Recap

September 27, 2022 Carol Pereira

It takes a village to make digital transformation real and nowhere was that more obvious than at this year’s VMware Explore, where CEO Raghu Raghuram started the general session showing numbers that demonstrate the reach of VMware technology: 5 million developers in our community, 30,000 partners in our ecosystem, 350,000 new digital projects leveraging the Spring platform every week.

But there is more to these numbers than their sum. They are proof that VMware is moving in the right direction with exciting new features announced for the VMware Tanzu portfolio and that we are building a “truly multi-cloud community” that is running the same race: how to transform businesses and become digitally smart.

From cloud chaos to cloud smart

Raghuram has written about that journey in detail, but the tl;dr is that the “great re-platforming” era is not moving fast enough, according to CIOs. When companies started transforming their front-office experience, they realized roadblocks are common regardless of industry:

  • A lack of skills persists, not just among developers but also with cloud, SRE, and platform technologies

  • The weight of enterprise apps makes them difficult to modernize

  • Fragmentation means there is no consistent developer experience or security model

Most of our customers claim they are in “cloud chaos” right now, and Raghuram described a planned approach VMware is using to help get them to “cloud smart”:

  • Deploy the right cloud for the right app and invest in a unified developer experience
  • Run apps in a consistent infrastructure with proper resilience, security, and cost efficiency
  • Remove friction for people using many apps (e.g., a traditional datacenter, SaaS, and cloud native)

List of the differences between cloud chaos and cloud smart

One consistent platform, more power to developers 

At VMware Explore, one VMware customer in the financial information and analytics industry told a story about removing infrastructure toil and empowering developers. They realized that when they scaled their services, they started losing control. That is until they had a lightbulb moment while watching VMware demonstrate a workflow and how developers could interact with it.

“VMware took a holistic look at how we work and how we want to transform. In order to be cloud smart, in my opinion, our developers must really not be worrying about the cloud,” said the head of technology platforms and developer experience.

By leveraging VMware Tanzu and a smart Kubernetes approach, the company is confident that developers can be developers and not worry about Kubernetes clusters for the deployment of their apps. They can focus on solving business problems and moving fast with total ownership of their code, being able to dream about the future innovations they will bring to the table.

“We want our developers to own their code and come out with something that is actually good for society,” said the company's vice president of software engineering. “VMware Tanzu is helping us free up our time, and we are solving problems we didn’t think were solvable. That is where we are going to be in the future. Maybe we can make a difference.” 

VMware Tanzu: A platform for modern apps   

“VMware Tanzu is not Kubernetes,” said Ajay Patel from the VMware Explore stage. “It is a platform for modern apps.”  Patel, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s Modern Applications & Management Business Group, said that a driving goal for VMware is to help customers with their modernization journeys and announced many exciting ways the  VMware Tanzu portfolio is being supercharged to make that happen.

In short, while VMware Tanzu Application Platform improves developer productivity and simplifies DevSecOps, VMware Tanzu for Kubernetes Operations helps streamline and secure Kubernetes deployments at scale across clouds, enabling teams to truly bring Dev and Ops together. To learn how, check out this great customer-led session, IT Operator to Platform Operator: How to Bridge the Gap Between Dev and Ops.

Winning support for modern platforms

One question that came up in multiple sessions is how IT operations champions can get executive buy-in for building modern app platforms. It's clear from our conversations with customers that Dev and Ops teams need to improve communication and bridge the gaps that often separate them in order to design an approach that will lead to meaningful business outcomes. The good news is that, as more responsibilities “shift left” in the software development cycle, the lines that exist between these teams are already blurring and many IT organizations are becoming more collaborative.

Developer experience is a top priority for IT executives, and platform engineering and operations teams play a major role in providing a seamless path to production.

Google Principal Engineer Kelsey Hightower drove home this point at the Cross-Cloud Services solution keynote, saying, “Devs? Ops? Roles are just job titles. They shouldn’t be limitations [on] how we do our work. You are not your job. You can learn new skills! Reach into the toolbox and grab the tool you need even if you still don’t know how to use it.”

Kelsey Hightower on stage with Amanda Blevins, vice president and chief technology officer, Americas at VMware

Inspiring customer stories

Across sessions, attendees heard from multiple customers about how VMware Tanzu is helping them move their businesses forward. Here are some highlights:

Tom Eck, senior vice president of digital transformation at FISERV, was tasked with building a unified development portal. He had hundreds of APIs and different credentials, and he wanted it all to be cloud native, API-first, and cloud agnostic. No proprietary service allowed. His team got it done, ported it to Azure, and later to Tanzu Application Platform. During the Key Stages in the Modern App Journey solution keynote, he was pleased to say that the company’s developer superstars can contribute and codify their knowledge into Application Accelerators to speed development across the organization.

Tom Eck on stage with James Watters, chief technology officer of VMware’s Modern Apps and Platforms business group

Johan Marais, senior platform services manager at Discovery Holdings, said in a breakout session that some engineers on his team once tried to create their own Kubernetes platform and ended up with many dependencies and inconsistencies. So, the company partnered with VMware on a journey that started years ago and evolved to leveraging Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. As they continue to grow, they need even more help and, Marais said, the newly released Cluster API feature, ClusterClass, will be an important next step, since “templating is key to avoid snowflakes.” Marais said he’s also looking forward to Carvel-based tooling for granular control in maintaining “configured to standard” clusters. 

Johan Marais on stage with Cindy O'Brien, senior product marketing manager at VMware

Glen Tindal, vice president of the solutions business unit at VMware partner Capstone IT, shared the story of a customer who started with an engagement around docker and moved on to be a Kubernetes adoption success story. Tindal talked about the importance of change management within that customer’s organization and how its success came thanks to a cultural transformation rather than any one tool or technology shift. The customer is still in the process of broad adoption, wants to reduce virtual machines by 40 percent, and is now looking for other targets for containerization. Tindal shared a few lessons learned, such as involving security teams from the beginning, starting early with education, having documentation ready, engaging at a deep level to assess the team’s average understanding, as well as identifying the people who are vocal versus those who want to step back.

Looking forward

Want to learn more about the VMware Tanzu and multi-cloud vision? Watch this interview with Ajay Patel and theCUBE hosts Dave Vellante and John Furrier, covering many important topics:

  • Speed and momentum of Kubernetes

  • VMware’s enterprise readiness with Aria for multi-cloud management

  • Meeting customers at their maturity curve

  • The importance of the developer experience

  • Refactoring versus lifting and shifting applications 

  • Ecosystem partners versus partners in the ecosystem

  • Identifying patterns in the open source community

Ajay Patel with theCUBE hosts Dave Vellante and John Furrier

Or check out one of the most highly attended sessions at the live event in San Francisco. 

Kubernetes Operations Track:

Cloud Native App Development Track:

DevOps & DevSecOps Track:

Keep in touch

We’re not done! VMware Explore will now travel to Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Stay tuned for news.

About the Author

Carol Pereira

Carol Pereira is a product line marketing manager and a member of the VMware Tanzu team. She has developed most of her career in the enterprise software industry and, in her current role, she focuses on increasing product awareness by leveraging product-led growth strategies and helping customers resolve their Kubernetes management challenges.

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