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The Evolution of Enterprise Cloud: 15 Years of Shaping the Future at VMworld


in Business, Cloud, Events, Technology

This week marks the 15th annual VMworld Conference, the world’s largest industry event dedicated to all things virtualization. With more than 20,000 industry experts coming together in Las Vegas to discuss the future of software-defined business and the digital infrastructure powering it, VMworld 2018 is already looking like one for the record books.

Following a breakout year for cloud technology in the enterprise, VMworld attendees can expect to see cloud innovation everywhere at the big event. But before you catch a glimpse of the future of the enterprise cloud, here’s a look back at its remarkable evolution over the last 15 years of VMworld conferences:

2004: Join the Virtual Evolution

When VMware hosted the very first VMworld Conference back in 2004, the cloud as we know it did not exist. At that time, it was still largely conceptual – a new field of virtualization that would take years to develop. Nevertheless, roughly 1,600 technologists gathered to discuss the underlying virtual infrastructure that would go on to underpin many aspects of today’s cloud.

2005: Virtualize Now

The very next year, VMworld doubled in size. Virtualization was taking the industry by storm as enterprise technologists started to fully grasp the power and implications of this emerging technology. In her keynote, VMware President and CEO, Diane Greene, unveiled VMware Player, the first product of its kind to demonstrate how desktops stored on virtual servers can be accessed and controlled by any PC – a watershed moment for the industry.

2006: Software-as-a-Service

2006 marked the beginning of the second phase of virtualization. With trust in the technology on the rise and its benefits becoming increasingly clear, it was time to start talking about the possibilities created by virtualization. That started with making it more accessible to enterprises, which put “virtual appliances” on the mainstage in 2006 – pre-configured virtual machines supporting on- and off-site computing.

2007: Embracing Your Virtual World

In her last year as CEO of VMware, Diane Greene opened the 2007 event with a powerful quote that would go on to define VMworld 2007: “A year ago, we were talking about virtualization becoming mainstream. Now, we are talking about a virtualization industry.” At the same time, the industry was starting to sense something way bigger than virtualization was just over the horizon.

2008: Virtually Anything is Possible

Everything changed in 2008. At VMworld, new CEO Paul Maritz announced the vCloud initiative – a new campaign backed by 100 enterprise partners to help companies “safely tap compute capacity inside and outside their firewalls – how they want, when they want, and as much as they want – to ensure quality of service for any application they want to run, internally or as a service.” This kicked off an entirely new period in virtualization – the enterprise cloud era.

2009: Hello Freedom

By the following year’s conference, the enterprise cloud was picking up steam. In addition to showcasing new enterprise cloud product releases, VMware announced that its vCloud Initiative had expanded 10x to include 1,000+ VMware-virtualized service providers, including AT&T, Terremark, and Verizon Business.

Meanwhile in Bethesda, Maryland, Virtustream’s founders were hard at work on an breakthrough idea of their own – creating a new class of cloud infrastructure products and services to help large enterprises migrate to the cloud in an even more simple and secure way.

2010: Virtual Roads, Actual Clouds

At VMworld 2010, the enterprise cloud expanded dramatically with the unveiling of six new VMware products and services designed to speed up enterprise cloud adoption. As Raghu Raghuram, SVP and GM of Virtualization and Cloud Platforms at VMware put it, “Enterprises are embracing a new model of infrastructure to deliver IT as a Service through hybrid cloud computing. The products and services we are launching today provide a comprehensive enterprise architecture that will deliver the agility and economics of the cloud with the security and quality of service our enterprise customers need.”

2011: Your Cloud, Own It.

By the time VMworld 2011 arrived, the enterprise cloud was popping up everywhere. The vCloud Initiative's partner program had grown by 174% to an impressive 5,600 members in 62 countries. Meanwhile, cloud innovation continued to expand with another round of new product releases geared toward global availability (Global Connect), interoperability between public and private clouds (vCloud Connector), and disaster recovery (vCenter Site Recovery Manager) and application performance (vFabric).

2012: Right Here Right Now

In 2012, VMworld attendance skyrocketed to 21,000 customers, partners, press, and analysts. Without a doubt, the era of enterprise cloud had arrived in full force. Among the many new products released at VMworld 2012 was the vCloud Suite – the world’s first comprehensive solution for software-defined data centers, bringing together all of the components customers needed to build, operate, and manage cloud infrastructure.

2013: Defy Convention

Five years after introducing the world to the enterprise cloud, VMware changed the game yet again in 2013 with the vCloud Hybrid Service for seamlessly extending data centers into the cloud. According to CEO Pat Gelsinger, "VMware's mission is to radically simplify IT and help customers transform their IT operations. Today, with the introduction of the VMware vCloud® Hybrid Service, we take a big step forward by coupling all the value of VMware virtualization and software-defined data center technologies with the speed and simplicity of a public cloud service that our customers desire."

2014: No Limits

Heading into VMworld 2014, advances in enterprise cloud innovation and adoption were reaching unprecedented levels and the scope was also getting broader. This was the year VMware turned its sights to the broader ecosystem, announcing several major partnerships, including a joint networking solution with HP and initiatives with Docker, Google, and Pivotal to simplify enterprise adoption of container-based architecture. Virtustream’s recent launch of xStream 3.0 was also turning heads at VMworld 2014. With the release, customers were able to provision, run, and manage VMware and OpenStack workloads within the same xStream user interface.

2015: Ready For Any

The unrelenting advance of enterprise cloud continued at VMworld 2015, with new products and major improvements across VMware’s entire cloud product lines, as well as new ecosystem partnerships. Perhaps the biggest story was the turnout: in addition to 23,000+ attendees, more than 50,000 tuned in for keynote live-streams. With technologists all over the world now paying attention to the enterprise cloud, VMware started ratcheting up its focus on user experience and accessibility.

It’s no wonder then that VMware’s parent company, EMC, announced plans to acquire Virtustream in the months leading up to the big event. Hailed as a “game changer” by former EMC Chairman and CEO, Joe Tucci, the Virtustream acquisition “uniquely positioned [EMC] as a single source for our customers’ entire hybrid cloud infrastructure and services needs.”

2016: be_Tomorrow

Digital transformation took center stage at VMworld 2016. The show featured stories from 30+ customers who transformed their IT operations with the VMware NSX® network virtualization platform. To help expand the footprint and usability of NSX even further, Virtustream announced plans to integrate the platform into its fast-growing enterprise cloud.

On the innovation front, attendees were introduced to the new VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture – a major extension of the company's hybrid cloud strategy that has gone on to define much of the current conversation about cloud today. As explained by Raghu Raghuram, then EVP and GM of VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center Division, "Customers are increasingly relying on multiple public and private clouds to run their applications, but are daunted by the challenge of managing and securing applications across diverse cloud platforms."

2017: I Am…

The big story at VMworld 2017 was the burgeoning enterprise cloud ecosystem. Beyond improvements to core products, a vast number of new ecosystem partnerships and collaborations were announced with AWS, Google, HP, Pivotal, Virtustream, and a long list of others. Unsurprisingly, hybrid and cross-cloud were an even greater focus at VMworld 2017, with Virtustream helping to drive the message home by joining the Global Dell EMC Partner Program and launching Enterprise Cloud Connector for VMware vRealize Automation.

2018: Possible Begins with You…

At this year’s VMworld conference, attendees can expect another action-packed week of enterprise cloud innovation, complete with new projects and partnerships that will no doubt set the pace for enterprise cloud for the next year. If you are heading to Vegas for the big event, be sure to bookmark Virtustream’s VMworld 2018 Cheat Sheet and visit our team at Booth #1234.

Can’t attend in person? Not to worry – VMworld’s on-demand video library has you covered.