Tuesday, 14 November 2017 17:27

VMware Asia Pacific Japan GM says still much to do, one year in


Duncan Hewett made the move from IBM to VMware a little over 12 months ago. He told iTWire his first year has seen solid digital transformation in the Australia Pacific and Japan region, but with more to come.

Hewett was appointed senior vice-president and general manager, Asia Pacific and Japan in August 2016, for VMware, the first commercially successful company to virtualise the x86 architecture and now a majority-owned subsidiary of Dell Technologies.

At the time Hewett stated his top priority would be “to help our customers accelerate enterprise digital transformation. We are well positioned in the region, and I am looking forward to leading the team to new heights in a region now regarded as one of VMware’s growth engines".

Speaking exclusively to iTWire, Hewett confirms “it’s been a really good year” in the top job for the region".

“On a personal level, it's been a lot of fun. The variety in APJ is fantastic. As an organisation we're in a good place, we’re able to deliver value to clients and to modernise their data centres, integrate public clouds, and now we’re in discussions about security.”

When asked where Australia and other countries in the region fit behind the US, Hewett states globalisation is closing the technology gap.

“Australia is not far behind the US,” he said. “Globalisation has meant what you do in one market emerges in another very quickly.”

In fact, “in Australia we’ve modernised from hardware-oriented application stacks to a horizontal hypervisor layer, with Australia 90 to 95% virtualised. We have the primary share. It’s really changed how clients work; one of the banks has gone from 4,000 servers to 734 but has increased three times the workload in that time period".

“A month ago I was in Myanmar, which has grown from 7% mobile usage to 80% in three years. You see countries and clients leapfrogging through the technology.”

In reality, Hewett says, it’s not technology which distinguishes developed and emerging countries, but instead the scale of the number of people.

In Australia, Hewett says, labour rates are high, so a big efficiency drive here is how to put more into the infrastructure. By contrast, a highly-skilled engineer might be paid $200/month in Myanmar. At the same time, a major mobile phone provider in India is onboarding 10 million new subscribers every month, so even with a lower labour cost you still need infrastructure to help enable such a vast scale of opportunity.

Within APJ “we are now seeing organisations get sophisticated around leveraging both the public cloud and the private cloud”, Hewett said.

“High virtualisation has moved from an organisation needing a data centre to manage all its requirements; it can blend in, and run, some workloads in different clouds.”

“One public sector client is moving their control pane across 16 different cloud providers. What they want is to choose what they put out and bring back in. Our VMware NSX technology enables us to put security around a workload and put characteristics in that provides administrators control over where they are moved to, so they can be restricted from public clouds. We’re seeing this level of sophistication and use case emerging in Australia.”

Speaking about VMware Cloud on AWS, Hewett says this product will be delivered to Australia within the second half of 2018. “We have a more sophisticated client set who sees what’s possible. This will be one of the leading countries for APJ,” he says. “There are clients running pilots out of the US data centres already.”


Speaking about security, Hewett says “the complexity in security today is really very difficult for clients".

“We absolutely have a number of use cases today where we help clients isolate workloads. For example, we can help isolate East/West traffic, so if there's a problem in this workload it doesn't jump to that one … that's about 50% of the use cases. Then we put some controls around it and have the choice where we run it.”

However, it doesn’t end here. “What's interesting is I think there's a next generation of security transformation that has to happen in Australia. Australians are very active in looking for best practice. Where are you doing it elsewhere in the world? What can we learn from it?” he says.

“Today if I look at clients who are investing a whole lot of money, time and effort externally with a lot of individual components in security, it's scary how many pieces they are trying to integrate.

“One of our clients runs 70,000 firewall rules. The cost of maintaining that and getting it right is not trivial.

“We have a unique ability in helping to transform security, and it can be quite simple. When you provision a virtual machine it has a ‘birth certificate’ - some say manifest - with a set of characteristics. If I know each virtual machine and what characteristics it has I can then monitor if it is still running what I provisioned it for. If it has a certain set of characteristics and starts writing to a boot record then I know there's a problem and I can do something about it,” he explains.

“With 70,000 firewall rules and high labour cost you're burning through time and effort, but we can help transform security via the birth certificate at a core architecture layer.”

VMware’s AppDefense will be the product that brings this to life. “We expect AppDefense to be available later this year or early next,” Hewett says, “and Australia is one of the areas that will get a lot of benefits because the country is so highly virtualised.”

“If you don't get the architecture right you're trying to add massive rules and tools on top. That's a problem and you have to integrate it all. There’s a real opportunity, particularly in Australia, for VMware to help businesses reduce costs and make it simpler at the same time."

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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