"Brave" is the current watchword for virtualization software giant VMware.
"Brave leaders need to be thoughtful, decisive, bold," said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger to the audience of over 22,000 at VMworld conference in San Francisco Monday this week, or who were listening in by webcast.
"Life is defined by the brave acts that we take," Gelsinger said, in an unusually philosophical stance for a keynote. He mentioned the bravery of Elon Musk, who is taking on the entire automobile industry with his Tesla electric cars.
VMware estimates that only 6% of the world's computations are taking place in the cloud, so to enjoy the benefits that the cloud brings, IT administrators and management have to take some bold, brave steps. Doing so will ultimately give them the "liquidity" they need to remain flexibility as their businesses evolve, Gelsinger said.
But bravery is also needed within VMware itself, Gelsinger admitted. "We are going through our brave journey," he said.
"Every day I challenge [VMware's 6,000 engineers] to disrupt, to transform, to innovate, to enable value to our customers in new and powerful ways," Gelsinger said. "I will hold VMware accountable to be brave."
With more than 500,000 customers and 75,000 partners, the company has generated $5.12 billion in revenue in fiscal 2013 by helping companies virtualize their workloads, which sets the stage for moving operations to the cloud.
But the field is awash with popular new cloud technologies that are not of VMware's making, such as Docker and OpenStack. VMware must race to stay on top of these new developments and convince its enterprise customers that it is not merely a virtualization software company, but a company that offers cloud software and services.
"VMware is trying to lead the faithful into the future, but they face an enormous challenge to win the new, agile IT projects of the future, rather than simply bringing greater efficiency to traditional IT," said Lydia Leong, a Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst covering cloud computing, in an email.
Many of VMware's recent announcements reflect the company's embracing of the outside.
The company has released its own OpenStack distribution, which can run on the company's vSphere platform.
The company is working with Docker to bring Docker virtualization technology to vSphere as well, even though Docker, like OpenStack, provides an alternative to VMware's own cloud stack.
It is also working with Google to make Google's Kubernetes' resource scheduling tool work nicely on top of vSphere. And it is working with EMC subsidiary Pivotal, which was launched with many of VMware's cloud technologies, and Docker to merge Docker capabilities with VMware's container platform, Warden.
Such partnerships will allow VMware to offer customers a single unified and professional-grade stack for running cloud operations, Gelsinger said.
VMware has also partnered with a number of hardware providers to offer appliances that midsized organizations could use to rapidly deploy a private cloud. These packages, under the name EVO-RAIL, will be offered by Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, NetOne and SuperMicro.
While VMware partners with other companies, it continues to advance its technology.
It has released a new version of its NSX software for virtualizing networks, which promises to make rerouting data-center traffic as easy as moving a virtual machine from server to server. NSX, version 6.1, includes additional security enhancements to make it more suitable for enterprise quality operations.
The software, released a year ago, is being used by over 150 enterprise customers, Gelsinger said.
VMware is also beefing up its hybrid cloud services, which it recently renamed VMware vCloud Air (it was previously called VMware vCloud Hybrid Service). It has eight centers in the U.S., U.K. and Japan. The service now accepts credit cards for instant access. It is also working on an object storage service where organizations can keep their application data.