VMware RADIO: Amplifying Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to furthering innovation, there is no other VMware event quite like RADIO, the company’s Research And Development Innovation Offsite. VMware RADIO is an annual, internal conference that dates back to 2001. It is expressly designed to be an academic-like conference focused on innovation, networking, and learning. During the three-day event, VMware engineers pitch their innovative ideas, learn from their peers about the technical efforts across R&D, engage in two-way dialogue, and form new relationships with one another.

Collaboration and Innovation

RADIO encourages collaboration across VMware business units. Anyone within the company is invited to submit ideas in hopes of getting selected to present in front of the entire RADIO audience. The accepted ideas are then rigorously workshopped by their creators and the RADIO committee before being presented. VMware colleagues from across business units and disciplines work together to shepherd and polish the contents of the conference, setting the stage for ideas to be further shared and developed at a company-wide level after the event.

As such, RADIO serves as a launch pad for new VMware technical directions and strategic initiatives. It also serves as a forum for VMware engineers to discuss the different initiatives, product and service releases happening at VMware and in the industry, opening up new horizons and opportunities.

The theme for RADIO 2017 was, What if…? More than 1,400 engineers from VMware Global Sites worldwide came together in San Francisco to learn, participate, and innovate in an impressive array of technical presentations, posters at the Expo, Breakout, and Birds of a Feather sessions, and informal opportunities dedicated to furthering innovation at the company. Echoing this year’s theme, Yanbing Li, VMware’s SVP and GM, Storage and Availability, posted on Twitter, “The culture of innovation and the willingness to ask, ‘what if?’ is what makes VMware a great place.”

In an inspiring opening keynote, Ray O’Farrell, VMware EVP and CTO, set the tone and outlined several of the broad themes animating this year’s conference. Chief among them was the idea that the world is witnessing the birth of a fourth industrial revolution—the merging of the digital and physical worlds. VMware is at the forefront of this new industrial revolution. Showcasing VMware’s vision for fast-tracking its customers’ digital transformation, O’Farrell challenged the audience to collaborate and create the future. “Good companies solve problems,” O’Farrell quoted. “Great companies create opportunities.” In the words of O’Farrell, RADIO allows the VMware community to ask the kinds of questions that lead to the creation of great opportunities for VMware customers and partners, and challenge VMware to take a deeper look at the impact its work has on the world.

Innovating the Future

One RADIO attendee enthused that never before had this much collaborative innovation across so many engineering disciplines been brought together in one place. It is a feeling echoed by many who attended RADIO sessions, which ranged across topics as diverse as creating a common development platform for SaaS, architecting cross-cloud services, creating open innovation with proprietary and open source software, and exploring sustainability metrics from a development perspective.   

Beyond discussing VMware technology and innovation, RADIO invites luminaries (from VMware’s industry, academia, partner and customer communities) to share a non-VMware perspective and help transform the conversation. In a keynote address on Day 2 of RADIO 2017, Mary Lou Jepsen, a visionary technologist and co-founder of the One Laptop Per Child initiative, exhorted the RADIO audience to constantly push the boundaries of what’s possible. “When someone tells you it’s impossible,” Jepsen told the audience, “it’s because they’re jealous.”

Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, Wolfram|Alpha, and the Wolfram Language, presented the keynote on Day 3. Wolfram is a pioneer in the development and application of computational thinking—and has been responsible for many discoveries, inventions and innovations in science, technology and business. He inspired the RADIO audience with an interactive presentation of his latest research on democratizing access to sophisticated data.

For the VMware engineers and developers who made RADIO 2017 an event unlike any other, Jepsen’s are words they will take to heart. And the question ringing out across VMware to further innovation: What if…?

To learn more about RADIO, check out the recent blog our Office of the CTO published