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HCLT’s groundbreaking apprenticeship initiative: Long-term vision, near-term effects

In the battle for talent, prepare for the long war

Recruit, retain and train. Every IT services vendor over the past couple of years has been pulling every lever to find, manage and reward talent in a chaotic market in which new competitors and newly empowered professionals have spiked attrition across the board and strained HR staffs as never seen before. The pandemic brought about a new appreciation for employee well-being while proving virtual engagements and delivery could work for IT services vendors. As 2022 starts, filling talent gaps in the near term will continue to challenge every vendor. Notably, HCL Technologies (HCLT) has begun investing in the long term with a program that is perhaps unique among IT services vendors and certainly, in TBR’s view, timely, a little risky and genuinely good for society. 

On Dec. 9, TBR spoke with Ramachandran Sundararajan, HCLT’s EVP of Human Resources at HCL America, and Rohan Varghese, HCLT’s VP and global head of Analyst Relations and Customer Advisory Board, both of whom provided details on the new apprenticeship program. The following reflects that discussion and TBR’s ongoing analysis of HCLT.

Flexibility, STEM and a 5-year apprentice journey  

With the company’s new apprenticeship program, announced in November, HCLT has crafted an expansive, flexible, multiyear journey for students intent on joining the IT services and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) ecosystem. The core program begins with a year spent at HCLT as a salaried employee, including a three-month “boot camp” that introduces apprentices to various aspects of HCLT’s IT services, consulting and technology businesses. The second phase focuses on practice-based learning. Sundararajan emphasized the “practice” part, noting that apprentices would have exposure to and gain experience working across many of HCLT’s core areas, such as SaaS, cloud, security and networking services. Over the final three months of the first year, apprentices join a live project environment, supporting and providing help at an appropriate proficiency level and putting to use skills learned from working in sandbox environments.

When apprentices graduate from this last phase, they become eligible for an HCLT-funded college program and can fully appreciate the flexibility that HCLT offers. Graduated apprentices can enroll in a four-year STEM program at any university, with HCLT picking up the tuition and fees and keeping the student on the company’s payroll. Apprentices can also choose an associate degree track to move more quickly to full-time employment. Or apprentices can opt for industry-recognized certifications, moving even more rapidly into the full-time workforce. In all three journeys, HCLT pays the academic costs, allowing the apprentices to earn a degree without any student debt.

Looking beyond the usual boundaries while staying aligned to HCLT’s core

Notably, HCLT has designed the apprenticeship program to seek candidates both geographically and economically diverse from the standard STEM talent pool. HCLT wants to attract students with fewer financial advantages than the average college student and will be recruiting most heavily in cities away from the technology hubs of Silicon Valley; Austin, Texas; and Boston. Sundararajan said HCLT will work with community groups in Cary, N.C.; Hartford, Conn.; and Sacramento, Calif., among other cities, although HCLT would welcome apprentices from any part of the U.S. In addition to throwing the net wide in terms of who and from where, Sundararajan said the goals of the program centered on building skills for the future, recognizing that the technical skills, who has them, and where they live will have lasting effects across their communities.

Top 3 Predictions for Cloud Infrastructure & Platforms in 2022

As vendors embrace open, hybrid architectures, PaaS emerges as the source of differentation

Vendors adjust strategies as clients ask for open and flexible IT

Customer demand for more open, cross-cloud services will shape vendor investments through 2022. Vendors traditionally known for locking customers in to their technology, including IaaS incumbent Amazon Web Services (AWS), will likely re-evaluate their portfolios and go-to-market messaging in the coming year. This could have lasting impacts on peers such as IBM and Google Cloud, which use openness as a competitive differentiator. For example, this past year AWS took a big leap forward with the general availability of EKS (Elastic Kubernetes Service) Anywhere, which allows customers to create and manage Kubernetes clusters inside their data centers.

Along with Outposts, AWS markets EKS Anywhere as part of its hybrid portfolio, which is typically just an extension of AWS cloud services to on-premises environments. However, for many competing vendors like IBM and Google Cloud, hybrid cloud has come to mean supporting customers’ workloads not only on premises but also across competitors’ clouds. AWS could similarly go down this route to better compete and may surprise the market in 2022 by offering EKS on other public clouds. Oracle is another example of a vendor known for confining customers to its cloud stack; yet, as Oracle looks to position itself as the No. 4 cloud leader in 2022, it could slowly embrace deployment methods outside Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). This trend is reflected in Oracle’s newer open-source application development and management platform, which is somewhat comparable to Red Hat OpenShift, and is expected to be deployable to third-party clouds.

2022 cloud infrastructure & platforms predictions

  • Hybrid remains the new norm
  • Bringing cloud to the customer: Distrubuted cloud moves from experiment to niche delivery method
  • IaaS is about scale; PaaS is about differentiation

Learn more in our webinar 2022 Predictions: Cloud

Send me a free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions for Cloud Infrastructure & Platforms in 2022

Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Top 3 Predictions for Cloud Applications in 2022

SaaS will see new vendors, bigger workloads and more customization

Consistent growth masks considerable change in SaaS during 2022

The expectations for what cloud can offer customers have shifted, and in no market is that more clear than with cloud applications and SaaS. The financial benefits of cloud, both the lower overall cost and the shift to an operating expense pricing model, were the early attractions as customers moved low-risk applications to the cloud. Now that more mission-critical enterprise applications are being moved, cost is still a consideration for major SaaS purchases, but it is no longer the sole driving factor influencing adoption decisions. The constant stream of innovation, more frequent updates, and ability to align cloud to changing business requirements have taken over as the most attractive elements of SaaS solutions.

That high-level value proposition will persist into 2022, making SaaS the largest cloud market in terms of revenue and one that will continue to grow in the double digits year-to-year. It may sound like the same old story, but a shifting set of trends will drive this growth. First, while large providers like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft remain the mainstays of the market, born-in-the-cloud providers have matured greatly over the past few years, best highlighted by Salesforce whose front-office SaaS portfolio aligned well with the adoption patterns of the enterprise, setting the vendor on a course to eclipse SAP as the largest enterprise application provider in terms of revenue by the end of 2021.

The success of Salesforce and other cloud pure plays like Workday has been recognized by a growing ecosystem of nontraditional ISVs that are entering the market to capitalize on the opportunity. Systems integrators, small managed services partners, and cloud platform providers will all package solutions that are sold as SaaS to end customers. Second, the larger, mission-critical services in the ERP category of workloads will see increased adoption. That shift carries significant dollar investments not only in the SaaS offerings being purchased but also in the associated services and technologies that support those environments. Third, the need for customization based on the business process, existing technology, and vertical industry increases the value of broad ecosystems that extend the core SaaS offerings.

This dynamic is supported by TBR’s 1H21 Cloud Applications Customer Research, which found that the value of ISV ecosystems was not just in filling gaps in vendors’ portfolios but also, more critically, in increasing the stickiness of vendors’ offerings within clients’ environments. This dynamic will result in PaaS capabilities becoming a key differentiator for vendors in the overall public cloud market. So while growth will continue in SaaS, it will mask big changes occurring in the market during the coming year.

2022 Cloud Applications Predictions

  • The SaaS opportunity attracts all kinds of new participants
  • Cloud delivery for mission-critical applications inches closer to mainstream
  • Customization becomes the standard for cloud applications

Learn more in our webinar 2022 Predictions: Cloud

Send me a free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions for Cloud Applications in 2022

Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Top 3 Predictions for Data Center in 2022

Vendors respond to customers’ accelerated IT transformations​

Hardware vendors will race to further entrench themselves in customers’ ecosystems

While storage, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and servers are the main products being sold by data center vendors, they are hardly noticeable in the go-to-market messaging that is being pushed out to customers. These vendors are more focused than ever on selling the outcome over the hardware itself,  whether that outcome is building a hybrid cloud environment to serve remote workers or deploying an edge solution on a factory floor. Data center vendors are looking to capture more of their customers’ environment, from managed services to hybrid cloud enablement, to diversify their revenue beyond hardware and create more reliable revenue streams.​

Building ecosystems is at the forefront of data center vendors’ go-to-market strategies to add value and create stickier offerings. This ranges from building management consoles and expanding software capabilities to refining “as a Service” offerings rolled out over the past 18 months. For leading vendors, this is done with an eye toward helping customers reap the same benefits they seek in public cloud alternatives — agility and simplicity — while also providing flexibility and cost control. ​

The road to a more diversified revenue stream is not without hurdles. Customers have already developed preferences for management tools and development platforms from cloud providers and ISVs. Markets like edge compute are complex with customization and industry nuance. Selling subscription models requires sales and delivery transformation for not only vendors but also partners, and a sales strategy that delivers on values that resonate with customers. In 2022 TBR expects to see further proliferation of the journey vendors embarked on in 2021, building out solution portfolios one use case at a time by identifying areas ripe for transformation that also benefit from on-premises hardware.

2022 data center predictions

  • Infrastructure vendors’ “as a Service” offerings will gain traction as the offerings are refined for specific use cases
  • Hardware vendors embrace the ecosystem
  • Vendors will carve out niche specialties under the broad banner of edge compute

Send me a free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions for Data Center in 2022

Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Top 3 Predictions for Federal IT Services in 2022

Where the money flows, IT services follow

Federal spending priorities shifting to favor civilian agencies

In three areas, the Biden administration’s pivot from defense spending to shoring up civilian agencies will have immediate effects on the federally focused IT services vendors. First, accelerated cloud adoption and new spending bringing cloud to civilian agencies will create partnerships and acquisition opportunities, as well as additional revenue streams. Second, IT services vendors well positioned for that pivot will increase their market share. Third, increased AI, analytics and cybersecurity deployments, supported by new federal dollars flowing to civilian agencies, will further separate federally focused IT services vendors that have built capabilities and talent during the last several years.

Civilian sector IT spending has recovered vigorously from the COVID-19 trough in 2020, thanks to civilian agencies’ ongoing drive to digitize their IT infrastructures, and the shifting budget objectives of the Biden administration will further accelerate civilian IT outlays. Health IT is emerging as a major growth driver on the civilian side, owing to ongoing COVID-19 response initiatives, electronic health record modernization, and IT projects to enhance the interoperability of health IT environments in the federal, state and local government sectors. Even amid the expected deceleration in defense spending, the Pentagon will leverage cloud infrastructures to connect IT platforms for combat operations across service branches, while cloud computing will become essential to transmitting, sorting and analyzing mission data.

Federal systems integrators also have an eye on the transformative technologies and methodologies that are becoming commonplace in the digital modernization of federal IT infrastructures. For example, federal IT services vendors will increasingly utilize low code as they execute cloud implementations, enabling the rapid development and scale-up of cloud-based software tools. Federal IT contractors are also pondering the effects of 5G and quantum on cybersecurity, while upgrading existing mobile and IT communications systems into more open and interoperable networks embedded with AI and analytics technologies.

2022 federal IT services predictions

  • Increased U.S. federal cloud spending upends the IT services market
  • Vendors prepared for flattening defense budgets and accelerated civilian spend will see early gains
  • Investment in advanced digital technologies will accelerate across all federal sectors

Send me a free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions in Federal IT Services in 2022

Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Top 3 Predictions for Cloud Partnerships in 2022

Cloud partnerships go from important to critical in 2022

Ecosystems will become even more tailored to the attributes of cloud in 2022

The shift to partner-led growth is not a new trend, but we expect it to be further legitimized in 2022. Growth from indirect, partner-led revenue streams have been outpacing direct go-to-market efforts for several years, but indirect revenue is reaching a new level of scale and significance in the market. TBR estimates indirect cloud revenue is approaching 25% of the total cloud market opportunity, which is a significant milestone. For reference, in traditional IT and software, indirect revenue represents somewhere between 30% and 40% of revenue streams. We expect the indirect portion of the cloud segment to surpass that level within five years, approaching half of the market opportunity within the next decade. For all cloud vendors, the combination of short-term growth and long-term scale makes partnerships an increasingly critical element of their business strategy.

Partner ecosystems have been a core part of the IT business model for decades, but the developments around cloud will be different for various reasons, primarily because the labor-based, logistical tasks of traditional IT are largely unnecessary in the cloud model. For cloud vendors and their partners to succeed in growing the cloud market, they both need to be focused on enabling business value for the end customer. Traditional custom development becomes cloud solution integration. Outsourcing and hosting are less valuable, while managed services are far more variable for cloud solutions. To capture this growing and sizable opportunity in 2022, we expect companies will adapt their partner business models and vendor program structures to align with vibrant cloud ecosystems.

2022 cloud partnerships predictions

  • Partners enable growth and stickiness
  • Value-add partners in software development and managed services become the focus in 2022
  • Partner activities will be more important that traditional designations

Send me a free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions for Cloud Partnerships in 2022

Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Informatica returns to the public market with an emphasis on data democratization and hyperscale partnerships

Informatica’s fall 2021 launch, which consisted of a new cloud-native marketplace, automated data quality features and new data scanners, comes alongside the company’s return to the market in an $840 million IPO. The announces offerings, from new services to partner integrations, largely complement the Intelligent Data Management Cloud (IDMC) platform — the key announcement at Informatica World 2021 in April — and align with what is now Informatica’s cloud-first approach to data governance and management. After six years under private ownership and a significant business model shift to subscription-based revenue, which now contributes over 90% of total revenue, Informatica returns to the public eye ready to convince investors it is fully embracing cloud as the operating model required for a successful, data-led business strategy.

Fall 2021 release targets data consumers

Informatica’s new offerings hit the market at a time when distributed workforces continue to be the norm in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and businesses are requiring more and more data to make critical decisions. In addition, a persistent lack of technical skills is weighing on business leaders and pushing them to look to third-party sources, such as marketplaces, to improve data literacy. Informatica hopes to support an underserved audience of citizen analysts and lines of business (LOBs) while staying true to its technical roots by offering developers a new set of automated tools and features.

Announcing Cloud Data Marketplace

One of the key announcements in Informatica’s fall 2021 launch was Cloud Data Marketplace, a one-stop data shop helping to meet the vast demand for a simpler data delivery process. Available as a service within IDMC, Cloud Data Marketplace allows data owners to publish assets from various on-premises and cloud data catalogs and offer analytics, AI and machine learning (ML) models to end users. The one-stop-shop experience is targeted to data consumers, which may include LOB leaders and their key stakeholders looking for packages (AI models and data sets) to support a number of data-driven use cases from price optimization to improved operational efficiency. When marketplace users ask for a data set that best fits their particular need, program administrators have the ability to approve the request and ask for patterns and data usage.

By bridging the gaps between technical specialists and business leaders, Informatica strives to make data more readily accessible across the enterprise. Cloud Data Marketplace will support this strategy by complementing Informatica’s expertise in the early phases of the data pipeline — from data discovery to manipulation — and will place the company’s metadata catalog in front of business leaders.

Ensuring data quality in the cloud

Informatica remains committed to data and analytics governance, leveraging its embedded AI engine CLAIRE to help automate tasks throughout the data process and provide clients with better control over their data. In the fall 2021 launch, Informatica brought many features previously available within legacy Informatica Data Platform (IDP) to IDMC. For instance, Informatica is offering its existing Data Quality tool to enable customers to profile, transform and manage data in the cloud the same way they could with on-premises data. Customers can also leverage natural-language processing (NLP) capabilities in the back end to create rules, such as setting up their own Data Quality and Business Users. Lastly, Informatica is infusing more automation in the platform, eliminating the need to manually create Data Quality tasks, such as applying health checks.  

Informatica reaffirms commitment to cloud partners

To protect its position as a neutral vendor supporting customers regardless of underlying infrastructure or deployment method, Informatica closely aligns itself with leading hyperscalers, offering native integrations with cloud providers’ well-known platform and infrastructure offerings. Expanding on its strategic, multiyear relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS), Informatica announced it is supporting AWS Graviton, the company’s own processors based on the Arm architecture. This will help Informatica position as a viable integration option for customers looking to run general-purpose workloads as well as compute-intensive applications, such as high-performance computing (HPC), AI and ML. AWS has been emphasizing its Graviton processors for some time, especially as it looks to push out more modern Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance types to customers and capture more critical workloads.

TBR notes Informatica is early to market as many of AWS’ other data partners and Informatica competitors have yet to offer support for Graviton instances. Further, Informatica introduced application ingestion capabilities, a module under Cloud Mass Ingestion (CMI), to allow customers to ingest and synchronize data from SaaS and on-premises application sources into Cloud Data Warehouses. These capabilities support Informatica’s partner strategy, specifically with vendors like Microsoft, which continues to work with Informatica to move clients’ data warehouses to the cloud. Additional partner announcements in the fall launch included the ability to scan data from Amazon Redshift, Azure Data Factory for cloud ETL (Extract, Transform, Load), and SAP Business Object Data Services into Informatica’s AI-powered data catalog offering.

Top 3 Predictions for Telecom in 2022

Telecom industry faces new challenges in the post-pandemic era

2022 will be a transition year for the telecom industry

After emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic relatively unscathed, the telecom industry is entering a new phase and faces a new set of challenges. These challenges include navigating a supply chain left in shambles due to the impact of the pandemic and, representing a separate concern, the inexorable rise and encroachment of hyperscalers in the telecom domain, which threatens to completely disrupt the status quo in the industry.​

Incumbent communication service providers (CSPs) and their vendors are navigating these issues, but there is an increased urgency to digitally transform and align with structural changes occurring in the industry, such as the pressure to work with hyperscalers on network transformation and business model co-creation in the cloud.​

2022 is poised to be a unique transition year for the telecom industry. While unprecedented government stimulus that originated in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to be pumped into the global economy, lifting all players in some way across the market landscape, CSPs and their vendors must transition to the fundamentally new network architecture, which is software-based, fully virtualized and cloud-centric. CSPs must also determine where they will play in the new value chains that are being created in the digital economy, most notably in hyperscalers’ marketplaces, and in conjunction with new players that are entering the scene in domains such as private networks and satellites.​

Meanwhile, supply chain challenges are expected to persist through 2022, with continuing semiconductor and component shortages as well as ongoing skilled labor deficiencies and shipping delays, all of which threaten to delay market development and hinder vendors’ ability to recognize revenue and pursue new growth opportunities. Inflation (potentially stagflation) and rising interest rates also pose risks, portending margin pressure and debt refinancing challenges.​

Taken together, these circumstances indicate 2022 will be an unusual year for the telecom industry. While government-induced stimulus will provide various benefits to players across the industry, giving off a sense that the industry is functioning normally and is healthy, an acceleration in competitive and technological changes poses a risk to the long-term performance of incumbents. Amid the uncertainty 2022 will bring, one thing is certain: Major changes are coming to the telecom industry in the post-pandemic world, and fast.

2022 telecom predictions

  • Supply-demand imbalance delays pace of 5G market development
  • Hyperscalers scale out edge cloud
  • Government becomes leader in 5G spend among nontelecom verticals

Send me a free copy of TBR’s Top 3 Predictions for Telecom in 2022

Telecom Business Research’s 2022 Predictions is a special series examining market trends and business changes in key markets. Covered segments include cloud, telecom, devices, data center, and services & digital.

Big Blue and big government: Enhancing security and co-innovation operations improves IBM’s chances in the U.S. public sector

IBM is strengthening public sector resources in the U.S. to capture modernization opportunities

While the public sector accounts for less than 10% of IBM’s revenue, in TBR’s estimates, IBM is expanding resources in the U.S. to ramp up activities. IBM developed its delivery capabilities for the U.S. federal sector by establishing the IBM Center for Government Cybersecurity in June. The center, part of IBM’s offices in downtown Washington, D.C., will have a secure laboratory space for government clients to jointly develop solutions around advanced security threats leveraging IBM technologies and services. The center will provide access to IBM experts and external advisers, such as former government officials, as well as host workshops around topics such as zero-trust frameworks and cloud security. Clients will also have access to the IBM Research labs to collaborate on encryption solutions. ​

In October IBM opened a new IBM Garage location in Huntsville, Ala., a location designed specifically to support the federal government’s digital transformation and modernization. IBM is enhancing its value proposition by offering government-grade cloud environments, cleared local resources trained on IBM Garage principles and methodology, and thought leaders that will provide services in a hybrid model. In a similar move, Accenture Federal Services opened an innovation space at the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s Invention to Innovation Center in June. Such activities indicate a potential war for talent, especially for industry and technology experts skilled at working with public sector clients.​

A partnership with Raytheon, formed in October, expands IBM’s reach in the aerospace, defense and intelligence, and federal government sectors. IBM and Raytheon will jointly develop AI, cryptographic and quantum solutions. Raytheon is one of several federal aerospace and defense (A&D) contractors teaming with IBM Services to launch MARQTS (Marketplace for Advanced, Rapid, Quantifiably-assured, Trusted Semiconductors), a hybrid cloud-based and blockchain-enabled forum to support the secure development of microelectronics for the commercial industry and the DOD. IBM joins A&D and commercial IT companies Boeing, Cadence, Colvin Run Networks, Intrinsix, Lockheed Martin, Marvell Government Solutions, Nimbis Services Inc., Northrop Grumman and PDF Solutions. MARQTS will be available to the U.S. defense sector by 2023. IBM will use a proprietary cloud platform developed to enable secure collaboration for the group, while the platform will reside on an IBM blockchain to enhance security. IBM expects to roll out MARQTS across the DOD by 2023.

According to TBR’s 2Q21 Public Sector IT Services Benchmark, “The appetite for digital modernization by agencies of the U.S. federal government remains strong, as evidenced not only by record revenue and backlog levels reported by many federal technology contractors in 2Q21 but also by the robust level and velocity of proposal submissions tendered by federal IT vendors. Commercial technology adoption is red hot in federal IT, particularly around cloud computing, where TBR observed a significant uptick in efforts by multiple contractors during 2Q21 to shore up collaborations with the leading commercial cloud leaders.”

Senior Analyst John Caucis, who leads TBR’s Public Sector IT Services research, notes, “The federal civilian sector has recovered vigorously from the COVID-19 trough a year ago, thanks to civilian agencies’ ongoing drive to digitize their IT infrastructures. Cyber budgets are also growing, reflecting federal agencies’ strong will to secure their data and IT systems from the ever-growing barrage of cyber threats. AI is increasingly permeating security, intelligence gathering and analysis, the burgeoning space sector, and citizen services, cementing AI as a critical technology to drive mission success and driving AI leaders like Booz Allen Hamilton to accelerate the time to market of new AI technologies.”

The content above draws heavily from TBR’s most recent quarterly analysis of IBM’s services business. Contact the author at [email protected] for additional insight and information. 

VMware’s Chapter 3 outline hinges on a more comprehensive portfolio and multicloud partnerships

TBR perspective

With the looming separation from Dell Technologies (NYSE: DELL) and departure of long-trusted CEO Pat Gelsinger, 2021 has undoubtedly been a turbulent year for VMware (NYSE: VMW). Since effectively taking over as CEO on June 1, Raghu Raghuram has been tasked with executing on Gelsinger’s vision of bringing the same virtualization products trusted by enterprises for decades into the cloud era. As many legacy software companies can attest, capturing net-new business in a market crowding with ‘born-in-the-cloud’ startups is no easy feat; yet, as the company that brought virtualization technology into the mainstream and remains pervasive throughout enterprises today, VMware faces a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

Since starting with stand-alone vSphere license agreements then progressing into full Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) stack sales, VMware is now entering what Raghuram deems the company’s Chapter 3, the era of hybrid multicloud. Like the first two chapters, Chapter 3 will be defined by product innovation, but it will require a more nuanced partner strategy, leaning on value-added resellers and hyperscalers that will help bring VMware into the cloud. This is an area TBR expects VMware to execute on especially as it enters 2022 as a stand-alone company.

VMware unveils Cross-Cloud Services to drive multiproduct adoption and position as a SaaS company

At VMworld 2020 VMware was coming off a series of tuck-in acquisitions that provided the company additional value in areas like networking, security and modern applications. Evidenced by historic acquisitions, such as VeloCloud, and more recent purchases, including Pivotal, VMware has proven its ability to use acquired IP to quickly pivot and meet demand from customers’ IT operations and development teams. While Gelsinger’s departure and the company’s spinout could be playing a role in slowing acquisition activity, VMware also appears to be at a point where it has all the workings of a competitive portfolio and must now determine how to integrate and scale it. Marking a key step in this direction was the announcement of Cross-Cloud Services at VMworld 2021.

Cross-Cloud Services is a manifestation of the company’s five-pillar framework and brings application, cloud infrastructure, cloud management, security & networking and anywhere workspace & edge services into a single, unified platform that can be deployed in any IT environment. In addition to established offerings such as VMware Cloud solutions and vRealize for cloud management, VMware released new products, such as Tanzu Application Platform (TAP) and Project Arctic, which are also offered as part of the Cross-Cloud Services product family. More services are expected to be offered under the Cross-Cloud Services umbrella in the future to provide existing customers with more choices and the flexibility to deploy VMware services anywhere.

Like many market players defined as SaaS companies, such as ServiceNow and Salesforce, VMware recently has been emphasizing product bundles. For example, in 2Q21 VMware launched Anywhere Workspace, which brings endpoint management, security and networking capabilities into a single subscription through Workspace One, VMware Carbon Black Cloud and VMware Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), respectively. However, as a company born on premises, VMware is more closely aligned with vendors such as IBM and Microsoft, which are similarly looking to support customers’ hybrid cloud journeys but face pressure to appeal to customers outside their own install bases.

While VMware faces similar challenges, the pervasiveness of VMware — evidenced by roughly 80 million vSphere-based workloads currently in production — arguably puts the company under less pressure to look outside its customer base, at least in the near term, and focus on upselling cloud and application services to its loyal base of traditional virtualization customers. The release of Cross-Cloud Services indicates VMware will take a land-and-expand approach to increase annual contract value (ACV) and become perceived as a SaaS company.  

VMworld 2021: As the coronavirus delta variant continues to take its toll, VMware held its annual event virtually for the second consecutive year. While VMworld 2021 was unique largely because it was the first VMworld in nearly a decade without Pat Gelsinger as CEO, the feel of the event remained the same, offering various breakout sessions and independent talks from customers speaking to each of the five pillars that define VMware’s DT-enabling strategy. VMware also welcomed the CEOs of all major hyperscalers, further highlighting not only its commitment to partners but also to hybrid multicloud as the model that will shape enterprise IT throughout the next 20 years.