VMware Bulgaria R&D Develops High-Quality Products & Innovations

Photo Credit: HiComm

VMware Bulgaria R&D Develops High-Quality Products & Innovations

Exclusive interview with Rajiv Ramaswami for HiComm

Rajiv Ramaswami joined VMware in April 2016. As a Chief Operating Officer, Products and Cloud Services, he’s in charge of the company's product and service offerings and centralized services, support and operational functions. Prior to this role, he led VMware's Networking and Security business as an Executive VP and General Manager.

Before joining VMware, Ramaswami was an Executive VP and GM for the Infrastructure and Networking group at Broadcom Corporation for 6 years. He previously served as VP and GM for switching, storage, data center and optical business units at Cisco for 8 years
Ramaswami received his bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and has a master’s degree and a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He holds 36 patents, mainly in the field of optical networks.

HiComm had the opportunity to hold an exclusive interview with Ramaswami.

VMware is one of the leading and largest IT companies in Bulgaria, and is constantly expanding. What are your plans for developing the unit here?

There are about 800 people in the Bulgarian division of VMware, most of whom are software engineers. Over the next few years, we’re planning to grow more than double to at least 1,500 employees.

We’re currently building a new, large and spacious office building to house the current and the new VMware experts. We’re hoping to be ready with it over the next year and a half.

The Bulgarian team is helping to develop many technologies, including entire products, which are sold worldwide. For example, some of our cloud solutions are fully developed in Sofia. We also have a large team dealing with data analysis here.

For example, our VMware Analytics Cloud solution is also developed entirely in Bulgaria. The teams in this unit are expanding and becoming more and more complete so they can deliver end-to-end products, not just separate components.

What attracted you to Bulgaria and what investments have you made so far?

What attracted us to Bulgaria is the quality of the specialists in the country. You have a lot of good software developers here.

We expect that the development center in Sofia will grow on and we’ll continue to invest in it. As you can see, we don’t only invest in the teams but also in the facilities, the best example being the construction of the new building. VMware has been on the Bulgarian market since 2007, and we’ve been continuously investing over the past ten years. Our plans are long-term and we hope to keep up the pace over the next decade.

Will the expansion cover only the current teams or will you create additional ones to focus on products that are new for the Bulgarian center?

It will be a combination of both. New products that are developed in Bulgaria are emerging all the time. Two years ago, we didn’t even have tools like VMware Analytics Cloud. This is a new solution for us, and it’s built entirely in Bulgaria. There are many such products we develop from scratch at the local development center.

Meanwhile, we also build on our existing solutions for which we need a pool of specialists too. So the expansion of the teams will take place in both ways – we’ll create new and expand the current ones.

In Bulgaria and Europe as a whole, there’s a huge shortage of IT specialists. How does VMware handle this problem that hinders the entire software industry?

For us, attracting specialists isn’t such a problem as it is for other companies in the country. This is due to the fact that VMware is a very attractive employer as we offer some of the best working conditions not only in the IT industry but also in the country as a whole.

Our teams’ projects involve cutting-edge technologies and offer great development and growth to specialists. These products become available all over the world. VMware’s definitely a place where an expert can grow a lot professionally and build a brilliant career. This is due not only to the nature of the company's work but also to the opportunities we provide for it.

The problem in Bulgaria is rather different – the limited number of available highly qualified experts in the country.

The shortage of IT specialists isn’t just local or regional, it’s a global problem. That’s because everything’s technological nowadays. There isn’t an industry that doesn’t use some IT systems. All sectors need technology specialists and everybody is looking to hire such.

The solution is that more and more people start learning IT.

With several development centers around the world, VMware has been increasingly focusing on the Bulgarian unit – what’s the reason for this decision?

VMware has 3 major development units – in Palo Alto (USA), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Bangalore (India), as well as several smaller centers.

In Bulgaria and India, we’ve been growing fast because of one major reason – we can quickly develop teams without compromising quality. We have great specialists in Palo Alto, but the amount of available experts is much more limited.

The development of our centers depends on 2 factors – the availability of talent and the ability to attract and retain them. Bulgaria meets both criteria, so we’ve been investing actively in the local center and developing at a good pace.

Bulgaria’s well-known in the region with its developed startup ecosystem as well. Is VMware interested in such companies and is it planning to invest in this environment to promote innovation?

We’ve been keeping an eye on the startup environment in Bulgaria and globally, and we help such companies develop. Currently, we’re mostly partnering with or investing in US startups, as well as some Indian ones. We’re also interested in the Bulgarian startups though, and we’re open to any form of cooperation – partnership, investment or acquisition.

Are there any examples of VMware working with or investing in Bulgarian startups?

VMware doesn’t have the practice of revealing such information before finalizing investments, partnerships or acquisitions. For the time being, we have nothing to say except that we’re observing the development of the entrepreneurial environment in Bulgaria.

How’s the virtualization market developing and how’s VMware doing in its core business segment?

VMware’s developing quite well. The virtualization market has been expanding steadily and at a rapid pace, and now pervades the core server processes – something that we started and developed as a company. Today, we’re moving to the virtualization of everything – from the computing capacity to storage systems and telecom networks, with the latter two evolving as important parts of our business.

Virtualizing the entire IT infrastructure is a journey the company has taken for quite some time. It’s yet to expand even more and is no longer just about data centers but spreading across the whole cloud structure. This is already a fact in the US, with Microsoft Azure and Google's systems being examples of it. VMware provides a stable, reliable and manageable cloud environment, relying on virtualization technologies. The next step is to switch to edge computing as more and more devices will be there. We’ve managed to virtualize all the resources in public and private clouds, and this process is currently running in telecoms’ network infrastructure.

First of all, the market is constantly changing. 10 years ago, public cloud systems were less developed. At present, almost everybody uses them, more and more products are transitioning to the edge infrastructure, all companies are now digitizing and building their own customer service and communication apps. From the perspective of VMware, we’re trying to reinforce these processes by making systems much easier to manage.

Could you tell us a little more about these systems and the concept of edge computing?

This market is expected to be huge. Imagine a Coke vending machine that’s connected to the Internet, or an autonomous car. We can even look at larger examples – like a local bank branch. In each of these cases, it’s much better to handle some of the information and applications on the spot for better user experience. If we continue with the examples – imagine a local café where a system recognizes you as a regular customer as soon as you walk in and directly offers you the coffee you like, ready to make it for you. Many of these applications should be utilized on premise rather than remotely in the cloud. A great example of this are autonomous cars which, in order to be able to react instantly, need to do much of the computing by themselves.

That’s why the new world of IoT will rely on combined computing – locally and in the cloud, with the former being on the so-called edge of the infrastructure. The processes of data storage and protection and communication with devices must be managed efficiently.

All of this provides many opportunities for VMware with our experience in virtualization solutions and optimal use of all available resources.

But this infrastructure doesn’t exist yet or at least isn’t sufficiently developed. When can we expect this to happen?

That’s right. We’re already seeing a few companies actively experimenting with these technologies. So things are happening, and not just on paper.

For example, I recently had to drive a Tesla and it gets all of its software updates over the air without having to bring the car to a workshop. The vehicle has onboard autonomous driving systems and uses a lot of information from the cloud. Over time, we’ll be seeing more such products and solutions.

We’re already talking to many vendors who want to build the stores of the future or industrial giants who want to fully automate their production. But we’re still in the beginning and things are starting to develop or are yet to happen. That's why VMware’s strategy includes edge computing, where we see future growth.

The four technologies – public and private cloud, telecom networks and edge computing – are interconnected. Especially in terms of applications, because they allow information to be stored and handled in a flexible way in the most suitable place. At present, one method is mostly used, but these technologies will be gradually combined. Part of the information will be stored in the cloud, the edge will have the most necessary data for the moment, and the management can go through the telecom networks. We shouldn’t treat them as isolated solutions but as an opportunity to build the most appropriate combinations of them.

How do you expect these markets to develop in the coming years?

Today, most business customers, for example, use private clouds to store their data, with only 10% using public clouds. Over time, more companies will rely on the latter, and I expect that 30% to 50% of the business will go this way.

The need for small device-related apps within the Internet of Things (IoT) is still growing and at some point this segment will expand considerably. This will increase the demand for edge computing solutions. I expect the market to grow significantly, which is good news for us.

The virtualization of telecom networks is yet to reach its peak, and we’re talking about a billion-dollar business.

Storage and business process management is also growing at a good pace. I'm optimistic about the future and that the market will go up, which is good news for VMware as well.
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