From compute to Kubernetes, VMware brings virtualization into the multicloud future

While naysayers predict the rise of container technologies will bring doom and gloom for virtualization companies, VMware Inc. appears to be embracing the dragon. Strong earnings, a slew of recent acquisitions and a committed partner ecosystem show how VMware is aiming to build a bridge between the data center and the cloud.

“Our vision is delivering any application on any cloud consumed by any device, all with security intrinsically built in the fabric,” said Robin Matlock (pictured), chief marketing officer of VMware Inc.

Matlock spoke with Dave Vellante and John Furrier, co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the VMworld event in San Francisco. They discussed how Matlock is steering VMware’s marketing strategy as the company brings new acquisitions and new technologies into the fold (see the full interview with transcript here).

This week, theCUBE spotlights Robin Matlock in its Women in Tech feature.

Marketing focus leads to VMware exec role

After receiving a degree in economics from Rice University in Houston, Texas, Matlock entered the corporate world and worked her way up the marketing ladder. Over a decade of experience in marketing management for technology security firms, including Symantec Corp. and McAfee Inc., culminated in her appointment as vice president of corporate marketing at VMware.

Matlock was promoted to VMware’s chief marketing office in 2013, and she is instrumental in aligning the company’s marketing strategy to the game plan provided by Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger.

“Pat’s leadership [sets] that foundation for the company,” Matlock said. “My job as a marketer is to help find the way to articulate that in a way that’s consumable and people understand.”

New acquisitions bring brand challenges

Two decades ago, VMware led the commercial virtualization of x86 architecture with the release of Workstation 1.0. The Workstation Pro is still on the company’s product list, but it is eclipsed by new products aimed at the multicloud market, such as the Tanzu portfolio that cements Kubernetes as the core of the company’s platform.

Fueling the fire of innovation at VMware are a host of new acquisitions and mergers (14 in the past 20 months), with application management, containerization, and multicloud specialists such as Heptio Inc, Bitnami Inc. and Pivotal Software Inc. dominating the list.

Acquiring a new company is one challenge, but merging its marketing messages into the VMware strategy is another. As CMO, it falls to Matlock to blend each new arrival seamlessly into the VMware fold. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, according to Matlock.

“Any time you’re doing a lot of mergers and acquisitions, you definitely have to think very strategically about integration,” she stated. “Sometimes you want to integrate fully right away, and sometimes you want to let an acquired company be standalone for a little while.”

The key is maintaining a consistent message: “I think it’s very important that the market sees one VMware, one vision and strategy,” Matlock said.

While the company’s products and solutions have evolved, its core commitment to simplify information technology has stayed the same, according to Matlock.

“All of these moves, year after year, are just validating and supporting the delivery of that vision to our customers” Matlock said. “I think the big moves this year are no different, whether it’s Tanzu for Kubernetes, whether it’s the Carbon Black [Inc.] acquisition idea, whether it’s Pivotal; these are just steps along a journey that’s going to deliver on our vision.”

As important as the company’s technological vision for its customers is VMware’s reputation as a responsible global citizen. There are no trade-offs between shareholder profit and environmental impact at VMware. Nor does profit come above fair treatment of employees, according to Matlock.

“It is about shareholder value, but it’s about tech as a force for good. We’re passionate about that, and ultimately we put customers at the center of our thinking, of our decisions, of our behaviors. And I think that ultimately keeps rewarding us,” Matlock said.

Building brand trust in an insecure world

Trust is “foundational to doing good, healthy business,” Matlock stated. However, it is not a value she feels VMware needs to promote.

“I think you’ve got to be very careful as a marketer to market trust. I think you need to demonstrate your trustworthiness. You need to be consistent; you need to be credible; you need to be there when the times are tough,” she said. “If you earn trust, you don’t really have to say it.”

Better than any marketing message are the thousands of attendees at VMworld, according to Matlock. “[They] are saying it as they show up here with their time and energy and investment,” she said. The same goes for the customers who share their experiences on the stage: “They’re here advocating because they trust VMware,” Matlock added.

VMworld is a company-wide endeavor, but the marketing team seems heavily involved in choosing a concept, branding, and promoting the event. This year’s theme was “Make Your Mark,” and the event goal was to connect with and empower customers.

“IT has such a strategic role to play in enterprise these days, and it’s like how can we enable them and empower them and give them all the tools they need to put their stamp on things,” Matlock said in a promotional video for the event.

In a week filled with keynote speeches, guest celebrities, hands-on labs, break-out sessions, and community interaction, there is one message Matlock wants attendees to grasp: the importance of Kubernetes to the future of VMware.

“If you don’t come out of this week of VMworld with a good handle on what is Tanzu, what’s Tanzu Mission Control, what are we doing with the Heptio acquisition … the PKS evolution happening, I think you would be missing something if you don’t really grok that,” Matlock said.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s extensive coverage last week of VMworld 2019:

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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