September 30, 2020
Image: Married / Fadey / Protocol
Welcome to Protocol Cloud, your comprehensive roundup of everything you need to know about the week in cloud and enterprise software. This week: VMware doubles down on AI and Kubernetes, small businesses claw their way back from recession with tech, and Microsoft suffers an embarrassing hourslong cloud outage.
At one point, VMWare harbored ambitions — born of fear and arrogance — of competing directly with AWS. Eventually, after rhetoric that looks hilarious in retrospect, cooler heads prevailed.
VMware had to make some big changes to keep up in the modern enterprise sector. The company may have taken data centers by storm during the mid-2000s with its server virtualization technology, but more recently it has struck key partnerships with competitors like AWS, acquired talent it couldn't develop internally and adapted its product roadmap to reflect reality at a time when it looked like the cloud might flatten everything in its path.
Fast forward a few years to this week's VMworld 2020, and the market has come around to its view: Some enterprise applications will remain in self-managed data centers for the foreseeable future, and customers want options when it comes to finding the best home for the rest of their apps. (Disclosure: My wife works as a contractor for VMware.)
That's not to say that VMware has prevailed, exactly. The big cloud providers are getting pretty good at giving server huggers their own products and services for accessing cloud resources, sometimes in partnership with VMware and sometimes not. AWS is generating $10 billion in revenue a quarter — almost four times as much as VMware — and it is growing much faster.
But VMware is still forging ahead. The biggest news out of VMworld 2020 was the formation of a new partnership with Nvidia, which harbors its own ambitions of driving both cloud and data center trends over the next decade.
Speaking of AWS, VMware's not done there, either. It also announced several new services designed to work with cloud providers.
Rounding out the major announcements VMware also acquired SaltStack, adding to a parade of acquisitions it has made over the last several years.
It's hard to believe that all the major IT vendors of a certain age — VMware, HPE, Oracle, IBM and even VMware parent company Dell Technologies — will thrive over the next decade. But if the market has decided that the cloud isn't the answer for everything, there's opportunity for some of these infrastructure laggards to modernize their approach before it's too late.
I'll have more on VMware's plans for the future later this week on Protocol, following a one-on-one interview with Gelsinger.
Catch up on all the VMware Cloud news from VMworld 2020.
COVID comeback: The pandemic has hit small businesses especially hard this year, forcing the closure of countless restaurants, salons, boutiques and other businesses that make up the fabric of a community. In our latest Protocol Manual, we take a look at how some of those businesses are using technology to recover and what comes next.
RISC-y business: Nvidia's landmark deal to acquire Arm put the spotlight on an open-source chip project called RISC-V, which also operates as a licensor of chip designs to other companies, including Nvidia. Progress has been slow, but RISC-V CEO Calista Redmond told Protocol's Shakeel Hashim that the group is just a few years away from its "iPhone moment."
D-Wave of the future? Companies that can't wait for general-purpose quantum computers might be kicking the tires on D-Wave's new Advantage quantum system, which takes a different approach to quantum computing than the one pursued by most of the industry. D-Wave's approach works for only a limited number of applications, but it might be attractive to companies looking for solutions to specific optimization problems.
Learn how VMware Cloud helps organizations like yours unlock multicloud's full potential.
Thanks for reading — see you next week.