Coca-Cola cloud chief reveals VMware wish list

Mariano Maluf is president of the VMware User Group (VMUG), which counts about 80,000 individual members with technical interests related to VMware's virtual-machine software (the group includes local chapters, lots of free education and special interest groups). In his job as cloud ecosystem architecture lead at the Coca-Cola Co., Maluf has firsthand knowledge of deploying VMware products. Here's what's on his mind heading into next week's annual VMworld conference in San Francisco.

[SHOWTIME:Five big things to watch for at VMworld]

Virtualization has fundamentally changed networking. And though today there is competition from Microsoft, KVM, Xen and the like, VMware is virtualization's dominant player in the enterprise. What's the best thing VMware has done so far?

The best thing has been the maturation of the hypervisor layer. Back in the early days there was a risk. Now it's a common element that people put in their designs for the data center. It continues to be a building block. Also, cloud automation and management is something VMware embraced very quickly. Today, the technology is inherently multi-cloud, multi-hypervisor.

But how widespread is multi-hypervisor use, from what you've seen?

It's a concern for users. Some people have different opinions on the viability of that.

So what missteps has VMware made?

One example is the licensing model they put together a few years ago, the vRAM model. VMware could have used different groups and communities and took it as a learning opportunity. They could have reached out to us to have a business discussion. [Editor's note: Last year VMware officially killed its controversial vRAM licensing scheme.]

Virtualization has been widely adopted very quickly, but some think security for it is still catching up. It seems third-party security vendors and VMware have sometimes had a tough go of it in that VMware has run through a number of security APIs, such as vSafe, then shifted away from that and promoted vShield, then changed the name to vCloud Networking and Security. Now security vendors are all talking about NSX APIs related to VMware's new NSX networking and security management product we expect to hear about at VMworld. Meanwhile, Gartner believes there's not really widespread adoption of virtualized security yet as a real substitute for physical appliances. Enterprise IT managers I speak with often say they find this all confusing. What do you think?

I've been tracking that as well, with vSafe. I can relate to the segments of the story. The dynamics of security make it a very, very hard segment to be in, along with all the moving parts. It's a challenge. Looking at product road maps, I see changes and variations. From a third-party provider's perspective, I can see a different viewpoint in tracking things, coding against a set of APIs that will change later on. But VMware has been a good partner. It will be interesting to see what integration with VMware that Nicira will really bring. We continue to track this, the thing they call software-defined data center.

Do you think there's a gap in adoption of virtualized security?

With vendors in firewalls and load-balancing, when you look at their offerings, the physical versus the virtual, it could be a wait-and-see mode. It may be a simple case of the capacity of the virtual appliance can't match what the physical appliance can provide. It's a mixed bag. It's slow from an adoption perspective.

So what do you hope to see VMware?

Extend the maturity and quality of their products to the rest of the environment. VMware has created a very high bar in terms of resilience and maturity in vSphere. We'd like to see that applied to hybrid cloud and end-user computing. We want them to continue to listen to customers, and that we continue to hear from their top executives. That's part of the symbiotic relationship we have. We want to continue to keep track of the road maps they're offering. We can help them tailor those things in terms of products. On the cloud side, there's definitely competition on all fronts. [VMware CEO] Pat Gelsinger explained his view about Amazon and OpenStack, that they serve different markets.

There's a lot of buzz building about what's expected to be announced at VMworld about the vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS). How important is this?

You'll see some announcements in the next few days. A software-defined data center can potentially change how companies define their data centers from the public cloud perspective. VMware embracing hybrid cloud is important.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail:

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