Education Game-Changers From VMworld 2017 In Las Vegas

At VMworld 2017, VMware showed off its Mojo (I always knew we had it).  But it also gave K-12 and higher education institutions the chance not only to learn new things, but also to hear VMware leadership discuss where the company is going, discover new products and, most importantly in my mind, the chance to collaborate with others that have experiences and ideas to share.

I was especially inspired this year by how willing and excited schools from around the world were to seek consultation and it was in these collaborative moments that the magic of VMworld happened. I was privileged to be part of some impactful conversations in Las Vegas and want to share a few that stood out against the backdrop of so much activity.

Lowering the Threshold for Students to Learn

Collectively, higher education is struggling to improve graduation rates, attract and retain students, and better prepare graduates for the workplace. Both higher education and K-12 continue to seek strategies and tools that help level the playing field for all, with a focus on at-risk students.

This week, I heard some incredible stories of how VMware and partner solutions help deliver any learning resource to any device, greatly reducing what students must spend, know, and do to get an education. No longer is an expensive piece of hardware required to run demanding applications or is expertise required to install and configure software needed for a class.  Any app can now be consumed on any device—Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, or even a stateless device like a Chromebook. The digital workspace has opened the door for all students to access the learning resources they need without barriers of location, operating system (OS), OS version or device capability—all with an amazingly simple user experience.


Here are a few stories I heard universities tell this week:

  • A single, working mother finding life-work balance because she no longer needed to drive to a computer lab on campus to access needed software and can now spend those two hours at home with her children
  • A professor who measured improved student outcomes by not having to move students to a physical lab, but rather applies new knowledge and instruction by asking students to immediately pull out their own devices during class, improving retention
  • An engineering student who has eliminated the need for a $125/month laptop that was adding to her already heavy tuition burden


Cooperation Among Education Institutions Eases the Pain of IT Transformation

Surprisingly, the most-often mentioned strategy I heard was schools benefitting from the expertise of other schools. I had at least five separate discussions with various entities that are leveraging (or sharing) infrastructure services with schools that would otherwise not have the resources to do it on their own.   Some examples I have previously discussed are Bloomington Public Schools in Illinois and Université Laval in Quebec:

But this week, I heard strikingly similar stories from institutions from Washington State to Michigan who provide private and public cloud services to both internal and external customers in their country, state, or region at a fraction of the cost of doing it on their own.

Cooperation in education may have been my favorite topic at VMworld because It highlights:

  1. The challenges many schools face including lack of funding, time, people, and expertise in transitioning to secure, mobile, and cloud-first IT infrastructure
  2. How scalable VMware solutions help education overcome barriers to better learning
  3. The innovative, caring, and helpful nature of education


The Importance of the Private Cloud
As VMworld was winding down, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger visited our first-ever Industry Solutions Showcase, taking the time to speak with one lucky public-sector customer. The conversation they had is worth noting.

The international customer expressed concern with the amount of focus VMware has on public clouds with announcements having been made about integration with AWS, Google, and Microsoft clouds, in addition to the IBM Bluemix and Pivotal Cloud Foundry partnerships already in place. The person’s institution is currently unable to move to the public cloud for regulatory reasons and was worried VMware’s legacy of data center excellence was being forgotten. In no uncertain terms, our CEO reassured this IT leader that we will remain a private AND public cloud company.

“You can take that to the bank,” he promised.

It is the data center, or private cloud, that is the foundation of current public cloud strategies, and our experience over the past two years has been that the data center will remain a critical cornerstone to enterprise-level growth into the public cloud. In other words, if the public cloud is to become an integrated and manageable part of an institution’s IT strategy, it will be as an outgrowth of a modernized private cloud rather than an outright replacement of it – certainly for the foreseeable future.



I am off to VMworld EMEA next week in Barcelona, Spain and hope to have more education perspectives soon.  In the meantime, you can watch what was shared at VMworld U.S. here.

If you are interested in learning more about infrastructure as a service that might be available to your institution, visit


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