Interview: From San Francisco to Barcelona, VMware takes SDDC on the road

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In late August, Joe Baguley took the stage at the VMworld conference in San Francisco for the first time since his promotion to become VMware’s chief technology officer for EMEA, to deliver a presentation to 23,000 attendees. With that daunting challenge behind him, he’s now preparing for VMware’s European VMworld conference in Barcelona in mid-October.

The message of the two events is roughly the same, he says: that the future is software-defined, and that this rule will eventually apply to every piece of hardware in corporate data centres, as well as those of third-party cloud providers.

That’s why the San Francisco event was dominated, by and large, by three headline-grabbing launches from the company, covered previously at IP EXPO Online : VMware Virtual SAN for software-defined storage; VMware NSX for software-defined networks; and VMware VCloud Hybrid Service, a public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering.

These launches marked a critical watershed in the maturation of the company’s software-defined data centre (SDDC) vision, according to Baguley. “We talked about software-defined data centre last year, and people said, ‘I don’t really get what you mean’,” he says. “This year, we delivered all the bits and showed them off, and people went, ‘Ah! I get it now.”

In fact, a practical demonstration of a software-defined data centre was the centrepiece of Baguley’s presentation alongside VMware chief operating officer Carl Eschenbach in San Francisco. In Barcelona, he says, there’ll be much of the same, “but there’ll be further announcements around product lines, more around management and automation and we’re going to be talking about our plans for VCloud Hybrid Service in Europe. We’ve got a lot of moving parts: the priority now is to present them in an integrated fashion, show how they fit together.”

Above all, it’s about showing IT teams the way forward, he says. “We’ve got 23,000 people sitting there and a large percentage of them, some years ago, made a career decision to bet their careers on VMware technologies. Now, that’s really paid off for many of them and they’re happy they did it, but as they look at the next 10 years, they need to broaden their own perspective. Just as we’ve thought a lot about how virtualisation should apply to storage and networking just as it does to servers, so have they.”

“In the next few years, there’ll be more convergence of compute-storage-networking into a single, integrated, coherent software layer and that’s what IT teams are starting to prepare for,” he adds.

Baguley’s promotion from chief cloud technologist for EMEA to the region’s CTO has meant he’s much busier on a day-to-day level. It’s also raised his profile considerably, inside the company and externally, too. He’s excited, he says, to have a role that involves expressing and communicating the developments that come out of one of the world’s most innovative companies, as well as helping to set the vision internally.

And on a personal level, it’s a great opportunity to “geek out”, he says. “The people I can call on internally to have a frank and open discussion about technology are incredible. They’re technical heavyweights.”

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