VMworld 2017

‘Co-opetition’ and Other Musings From VMWorld 2017

Whether it’s visionary or just undeniable, there seems open acknowledgement that even among competitors, today’s environment often requires some amount of cooperation.

VMworld 2017 seems a conference intent on celebrating the virtualization pioneer’s growing willingness – if not outright yearning – to integrate more broadly with big players, particularly when it comes to public cloud giants.

The word ‘co-opetition’ was thrown around the Mandalay Bay Convention Center a fair bit this week.

While arguably the biggest headline was the new partnership of VMware Cloud on AWS, the cooperation with Pivot Software and Google Cloud to leverage Kubernetes container technology was kept under tighter wraps leading up to the event.

Whether it’s visionary or just undeniable, there seems open acknowledgement that even among competitors, today’s environment often requires some amount of cooperation.

Note VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger’s take during one session, when asked how VMware’s entry into network security – with its announcement this week of AppDefense – might impact prospects of integration with leading vendors like Symantec or Cisco, who also compete in the space.

“To the extent that the key players will integrate with us, we will,” the VMware chief said. “We’re really saying that VMware plays a critical role in that stack...We’re going to have open APIs and you’re going to hear us dramatically turn up the discussion around secure infrastructure.”

Vegas heatwave: VMWorld got underway in the midst of a stretch of unusually hot weather; even for Las Vegas.

Monday marked the ninth consecutive day of triple-digit temps.

That day, Tuesday and Wednesday each reached a toasty 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Big tent: VMWorld has become such an enormous IT conference that it’d be surprising if any two attendees could agree on the most valuable learnings or activities.

Consider the scale of the event.

Pat Gelsinger took the stage at the 12,000-seat Mandalay Bay Events Center for his Day 1 keynote to a crowd that significantly exceeded the venue’s capacity.

Throngs of standing attendees squeezed into entrances to the seating area, while others were directed to a spontaneously growing number of nearby hotel conference rooms with giant video screens, serving as General Session overflow.

This went on for at least the first 40 minutes of Gelsinger’s keynote.

As soon as one room would fill up, a new one would be opened for the seemingly endless stream of people spilling from the Events Center.

Support is a priority: Day 2’s General Session opened with Gelsinger and Michael Dell, CEO of VMware parent company Dell Technologies, seated on stage for a “Fireside Chat.”

The company chiefs used the time to respond to feedback that they had curated from Q&A sessions the day before.

For the first question, Gelsinger chose to respond to concerns about VMware’s support, citing in particular complaints about the length of time customers spend on support calls and the quality of support staff and execution.

Selecting it as the opening topic of the second-day General Session suggests the VMware leader wanted to signal that the company wasn’t turning a deaf ear.

Gelsinger said he was disappointed to hear about the complaints and that the support experience is generally receiving positive Net Promoter Scores.

The company is fastidious about monitoring support statistics and responding to negative deviations, he said.

Still, he vowed the company was committed to doing better, and invited dissatisfied partners and customers to keep the feedback coming.

“It’s easy to get focused on profitability and so on but customer quality of support is what we’re focused on,” Gelsinger said.

Hurricane Harvey derails speaker: At least one scheduled speaker was kept from the event by the storm and flooding that battered the Texas Gulf Coast this week.

Justin Giardina, CTO at Houston-based IT solutions provider iland was unable to get out of town ahead of Hurricane Harvey, according to a report in CRN.

"Unfortunately, Justin and some others weren't able to make it out,” Dante Orsini, senior vice president of business development at iland told the publication. “Some iland employees needed to abandon their homes.”

VMWorld 2017 continues through Thursday.



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