40% improvement in cloud service response time.
25% increase in developer productivity.
25% decrease in annual license costs.
VMware is undergoing significant digital transformation to support the transition of its business model from perpetual-license software to subscription and software-as-a-service (SaaS). To enable this transition, the VMware IT team must deliver new capabilities in an accelerated timeframe while improving performance, resiliency, and the user experience. To ensure features could be delivered quickly to satisfy business needs, VMware IT modernized several mission-critical apps, tackling many of the same complex transformation issues faced by VMware’s own customers.
Exponential platform growth leads to scalability challenges
One of the apps modernized was VMware Customer Connect™ (formerly known as My VMware®), a self-service portal that millions of users access each month to evaluate products, download software binaries, manage software licenses, request support, and conduct account management. Since its launch a decade ago, the portal has experienced an exponential growth in traffic. As a result, the platform encountered scalability and performance issues, leading to outages and latency. In addition, its legacy codebase and monolithic architecture made it difficult to build and deliver new features.
“Business customers now expect the same levels of speed, ease of use, and convenience that they find on a leading consumer website or their smartphone. From the feedback we received from some of them, it was clear that we needed to refresh the user interface while accelerating page loads and interactions on the portal,” says Pankaj Purwar, Senior Director IT, Customer Experience and Success Applications at VMware.
Business customers now expect the same levels of speed, ease of use, and convenience that they find on a leading consumer website or their smartphone.”Pankaj Purwar, Senior Director IT, Customer Experience and Success Applications, VMware
To enhance the platform’s performance and security in the short term, VMware added third-party software tools. However, a lack of integration and other inconsistencies added to the complexity of the platform. Moin Tavargere, Senior IT Manager, VMware, says, “To ensure that VMware Customer Connect could continue to deliver an optimal customer experience, we decided to take complete ownership of how we run our services.”
Moving to a cloud native platform
As Tavargere was reflecting on the future of the portal, VMware IT’s architecture team was evaluating VMware Tanzu™, a suite of products and solutions for building and running modern apps. It enables developers to deploy modern apps faster into a stable, scalable runtime environment and helps operations teams handle change requests related to design, log aggregation, and configuration monitoring more efficiently. These two compelling benefits persuaded Tavargere to move forward with the modernization of VMware Customer Connect, enabled by VMware Tanzu.
This included improving the portal’s user interface, as well as its overall resiliency, performance, scalability, and security. To do so, VMware IT rearchitected VMware Customer Connect with lightweight microservices, built and delivered using the Spring Boot open source Java framework and VMware Tanzu Application Service™. A single-page application framework using open source, Clarity-based UI design was used to improve navigation for end users of the portal, while leveraging microservices hosted on VMware datacenters to achieve higher resiliency. By adopting an event-driven architecture and decoupling services to operate independently, the VMware Customer Connect team was able to accelerate the delivery of new features, strengthen resiliency, and improve performance and response times. “This enabled us to run apps at scale and release new features and updates to production frequently,” says Tavargere.
VMware IT also implemented comprehensive observability across all microservices as well as Tanzu Application Service Health using VMware Aria Operations for Applications. The solution enables the team to identify and resolve critical incidents quickly. “[VMware Aria Operations for Applications] plays an essential role, delivering visibility into about 40 microservices running on Tanzu Application Service. Any anomaly in service performance triggers an alert so that the team can investigate it immediately,” says Tavargere.
“One of its big strengths is the number of plug-ins that are available out of the box. It means that we can seamlessly integrate it with our existing monitoring and analytics systems and study the performance of the portal using a ‘single pane of glass’ model,” he adds.
All these factors shape the future of the portal, enabling the IT team to develop a roadmap based on data-driven decisions to ensure top-notch performance and quality. “Sometimes issues are hard to identify unless customers tell us, but with [VMware Aria Operations for Applications] we get a transparent, unbiased view, which means that we can prioritize decisions and resources as the portal evolves,” says Tavargere.
Transforming the customer experience
These improvements enabled VMware IT to launch VMware Customer Connect, a rebrand of the My VMware portal, designed to unify, simplify, and personalize customers’ digital experience.
With the move to this modern app platform, VMware customers quickly noticed improvements in its performance, availability, and usability. For example, some large telecommunications customers applauded the “innovation and comprehensive approach to rectify issues and drive long-term value, increased responsiveness, and easy-to-use interface.”
The new platform yielded many benefits, including streamlining developer workflows, which increased productivity by about 25 percent. The team also spends less time on general platform maintenance, saving about 1,000 person-hours per year. “Moving to microservices on the Tanzu Application Service platform greatly simplified and accelerated building, testing, and deploying services. Now we can deploy new features on a daily basis if we need to,” says Mike Olingy, Director, Digital Experience, VMware.
The overall customer experience is a lot smoother. Using Clarity to create a new user interface brings a clean, modern design to the portal. Customers have also noticed that the portal is a lot faster as they browse from one page to another, view documents, and download software. “We’ve seen service response times improve by about 40 percent,” says Purwar. “Those split seconds between clicking a link or opening a new page make a big difference to the user.”
“We get enormous satisfaction when our customers tell us that they’ve noticed improvements that help them realize value faster and more efficiently. Customers trust our technology, our points of view, and expect us to be equally innovative when it comes to the software that underpins our service portal. We’ve seen a significant increase in positive feedback since we migrated to the modernized support experience that Customer Connect offers,” says Sumit Dhawan, President, VMware.
Customers trust our technology, our points of view, and expect us to be equally innovative when it comes to the software that underpins our service portal.”Sumit Dhawan, President, VMware
Last but not the least, moving away from third-party applications has led to software license savings of 25 percent per year. “[VMware] Tanzu does exactly what you would expect from a modern app platform. It allows us to deliver a much better customer experience while enabling us to redirect budget and resources for more strategic activities,” says Tavargere.
The modernized capabilities exemplified by VMware Customer Connect put VMware on the front foot when it comes to the future. “The first ten years of VMware Customer Connect were challenging but exciting,” says Dhawan. “The next decade will be just as transformative, with the growing use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in cloud native environments. The VMware Tanzu portfolio puts us in the driving seat as we bring the benefits of these technologies to our customers,” he says.