The narrative that enterprises must move all their data centres to a public cloud is dead, according to Sanjay Poonen, COO, VMware Customer Operations. VMware, through a partnership with AWS, believes a hybrid option is now necessary, but it requires a fundamental change in data security.

Moving the bulk of data and applications to a public cloud is no longer a binary choice, Poonen told delegates during his keynote address at the company’s vForum event in Sydney today.

“That was the narrative three to four years ago. People said ‘abandon your data centres, kill them all, move them all to the public cloud and redo your apps’,” he said. 

“And then people found it was really hard.”

Poonen conceded the trend towards public cloud even led to VMware’s “confused strategy” around public cloud -offering its own public cloud service and competing directly with larger providers. However, public cloud providers are already well entrenched, providing VMware stiff competition, and Poonen believes the market will consolidate further.

Sanjay Poonen, COO, VMware Customer Operations Source:

Ultimately for VMware, partnering with AWS to provide a hybrid service was a more viable option. VMware’s on premise data centres can now be shifted to Amazon’s public cloud when necessary, and vice-versa, creating more flexibility for customers, according to Poonen.

“This doesn’t have to be a choice that is binary… You can do both,” Poonen said of the partnership with AWS. Not short on rhetoric, Poonen described the AWS partnership as akin to America and the Soviet Union compromising for world peace.

“It was almost like a Berlin Wall moment. Because Amazon and VMware were sort of enemies,” Poonen said.

The hybrid approach allows customers to better innovate by providing flexible infrastructure to serve an expanding amount of use cases, according to Poonen.

According to Poonen, cloud, mobile, AI, machine learning and edge computing will shape the future of technology and, locking in to either public or private will limit enterprises’ ability to respond.

VMware’s evolution

VMware, best known for their server and storage virtualisation, have evolved over the last two decades to now offer a suite of data centre services. And while the company has enjoyed much of its success by offering private clouds and virtualised data centres, VMware customers and partners now require more technology “agnostic” solutions, according to Poonen.

The response has been to offer what VMware calls a “digital foundation” – solutions that operate on any device, application or cloud type. For enterprises, this approach simplifies the digital workspace and can speed digital transformation, according to VMware.

Security Change

Offering more flexible or technology agnostic solutions, however, presents new security challenges. According to VMware CTO APAC and Japan, Bruce Davie, data security now requires a fundamental rethink.

In the past, data security has fundamentally relied on keeping up with known threats – a “broken system” and the “bane of modern data centres”, according to Davies.

Instead security solutions must now focus on “known good”, how apps or networks should be operating and preventing anything that deviates from “known good” occurring. According to Davies, advances in machine learning now make this strategy possible. Data centres can be autonomously monitored to analyse how an app or a network should be operating, then compare to the standards established by thousands of others. Davies argued VMware’s footprint – controlling data centres, networking and management – gave them a unique ability to do this at scale.

“We really think we are changing the game for security here,” Davies said.

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