VMware execs may well leave their annual Barcelona event later this week with the sense that an ally has stolen their thunder.
Plans to have an IBM exec on stage with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger evangelising about their partnership were no doubt made well in advance, but the virtualisation giant was probably not expecting that same partner to steal the limelight.
VMware's plans to announce its acquisition of Open Source start-up Heptio were somewhat overshadowed by IBM's colossal Red Hat acquisition, which was announced last week.
Here we round up the key takeaways from VMworld Europe, in this the vendor's 20th year.
The pressure was clearly on to impress, with 12,000 attendees pouring into the Fira Barcelona Centre to hear what Gelsinger and his team have in store for the market.
Honestly, I'm fine
One of the most significant announcements coming out of this year's VMworld was the announcement of VMware's acquisition of open source container start-up Heptio, which was formed by the creates of Kubernetes.
But VMware's open source play was largely overshadowed by IBM's mammouth acquisition of Red Hat, which was announced last week.
Such strong messaging around VMware's Heptio acquisition as "a market game changer" may go some way to explain the frankly odd public reaction to IBM's move.
Standing next to IBM SVP of Hybrid Cloud Arvind Krishna on stage, Gelsinger smiled broadly while insisting: "We welcome the news… This is great."
Hours later, VMware's EMEA channel VP Jean-Philippe Barleaza answered an unrelated question in a press briefing about VMware's new expanded relationship with IBM cloud by saying:
"Nothing will change… I am very comfortable with the Red Hat acquisition."
It was easy to get the impression that IBM's much flashier acquisition of Red Hat just a week before its own conference had caused a stir in VMware's camp.
Nonetheless, VMware is making a bid for market dominance in one of the hottest technology trends.
"We are making an increased commitment to be the leading enterprise platform company for containers, surpassing all others," Sanjay Poonen, VMware's COO exclaimed in his closing keynote this morning.
Pat Gelsinger also mentioned the "vital" importance of Kubernetes for the firm's future.
A prophet for the new world
"This is the gathering of the tribe," he declared.
Gelsinger positively bounded across the stage preaching to his flock at VMworld's opening keynote.
And, like any good prophet, he was quick to reassure his audience that he knows what's coming next. His evidence? That he'd already foreseen, years ago, the current trends that are forging the tech industry now.
"Hybrid may be the hottest thing now. But I've been talking about hybrid for years… The market is now agreeing with us," he said.
Gelsinger said that what's next is VMware becoming "unique" by becoming hybrid cloud's strongest evangelical force through acting as "a leading connector" of public and private cloud infrastructures.
VMware is ‘a multi-cloud multi-device broker'
Someone who has clearly got the message is Lee James, CTO of managed cloud services partner Rackspace.
"I think it's a reality," he said.
"I think Pat has demonstrated that VMware wants to be what I'd call a multi-cloud, multi-device broker."
"Any device, any application, any cloud" was a message that was repeated again and again in both keynotes and press conferences.
Gelsinger drove the point home.
"We can enable any cloud… We want to be everywhere, and we're the bridge to hybrid cloud," he said.
"Our definition of hybrid cloud is a true idea of a consistent infrastructure, consistent operations between private and public cloud or a seamless path to the public cloud and from the public cloud."
To add weight to those claims, he announced strengthened ties with IBM and Amazon in the public cloud space.
The worldwide rollout of VMware Cloud on AWS has been accelerated to mean that every AWS region will be covered by the end of 2019.
In EMEA, the next region will be Ireland in Q4 2018, with Paris to follow in Q1 2019.
A jointly engineered database-as-a-service and disaster recovery capability - AWS RDS - was also highlighted.
Gelsinger also unveiled a closer partnership with IBM Cloud.
IBM's Services Division now offers a fully automated cloud infrastructure architecture targeted at enterprise clients, "ensuring minimal downtime for mission-critical VMware workloads".
Offered across IBM Cloud's 18 global zones, Gelsinger welcomed the "game changer for enterprise clients".
IBM claims 1,700 global businesses are now using IBM Cloud for their VMware workloads since the partnership started two years ago.
Gelsinger also presented VMware's acquisition of CloudHealth, a Boston-based cloud operations platform across AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, as a move to "radically simplify operations across multiple native public clouds".
Among VMware's largest cloud verified provider partners is OVH.
One of Europe's answers to the US and Chinese hyperscaler giants, OVH's new CEO Michel Paulin said he sees VMware as being instrumental in driving future hybrid cloud through reducing complexity.
"VMware partners have seen real changes over the past couple of years. Cloud is becoming a more complex ecosystem with public, private, hybrid, edge, network, security and the capacity to have on-premise solutions," he said.
"And I believe the partnership we have with VMware really helps our customers to find their right path to move from on-premise to the cloud and to have a customised strategy to migrate their applications, services and data as well."
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