As promised, VMware is boosting its efforts in the communications service provider (CSP) market in an effort to be at the heart of telco virtualization strategies.
The company flagged its CSP ambitions at VMworld 2016 in August, when CEO Pat Gelsinger took to the stage with Michael Dell to discuss how they planned to capitalize on the NFV opportunities once Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL) closed its acquisition of VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW)'s parent, EMC. (See VMware & Dell CEOs See Massive NFV Opportunity and Dell-EMC deal closes next week.)
Now it is acting on those plans. Shekar Ayyar has been appointed executive vice president and general manager of VMware's Telco Group and is charged with ensuring the company's OpenStack-compatible Cross-Cloud Architecture and virtualization tools play an integral role in NFV deployments. (See VMware Launches Cross-Cloud Architecture for Public, Private & Hybrid Clouds.)
Ayyar, a former Lucent staffer, has most recently been responsible for VMware's Strategy and Corporate Development and played a key role in the acquisition of SDN poster child Nicira. (See NFV: Bringing VMware & the Telcos Together and VMware to Buy SDN Startup for More Than $1B.)
Here he is talking with Light Reading's Steve Saunders late last year:
Of course, Ayyar isn't trying to build a business from scratch: The company says it has "more than 80 NFV production deployments with leading global service providers across all geographies, deployed directly as well as through Network Equipment Provider (NEP) partners and Virtual Network Function (VNF) vendors."
It also has a growing number of virtualization allies and an NFV partner ecosystem of 20 vendors, which get their virtual network functions (VNFs) certified as "VMware Ready for NFV." (See VMware Ties Into Equinix Cloud Connections, Enemies No More: Amazon & VMware Partner on Cloud, VMware Seeks Cloud Dominance by Building Bridges and VMware Expands NFV Partner Program.)
But Ayyar's role has its challenges. While VMware has a decent reputation for delivering technology that actually works as advertised, it is still perceived as "the company with the eye-watering license fees" and, increasingly, expensive maintenance charges, and does not currently deliver to everyone's specifications. (See UKCloud Pushes VMware Aside to Make Room for OpenStack.)
And NFV, so long regarded as the telcos' technology white knight, has limped into existence rather than living up to the expectations and promises of its early days, while licensing is seen as a hindrance rather than a help. (See Virtualization Frustration Sees Telcos Rebel, Latest NFV Headache: Software Licensing and SPs on SDN: This Stuff Ain't Easy.)
Ayyar has an exciting job, for sure, but not one that comes with any guarantees of success.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading