By Dana Nourie
The History of Flings
In 2010, VMware’s dalliance with Flings began. Flings are tools that are experimental, their functionality not yet on any product roadmap. The concept was to provide a pathway from our engineers to our most cutting-edge customers. While Flings are not officially supported, customers provide crucial feedback. In response, engineers update their Fling with bug fixes and new features.
As with any fling, some burn out quickly while others evolve into something more. The same can be said of VMware’s Flings, where some become products, while others are deprecated or remain a standalone tool. Still, as the Flings site puts it: “Flings are apps and tools built by our engineers that are intended to be played with and explored.”
Becoming a Full-Fledged Fling
As you can imagine, Flings are very popular with customers, due in no small part to a great rapport between the program and customers. Traffic to the Flings site has steadily increased over the years. Last year alone, we had more than two million page views and hundreds of thousands of downloads. The vSphere HTML5 Web Client Fling in particular was quite the customer magnet – it received more than 3,500 downloads in the first week!
Another Fling, ESXi Embedded Host, is a Fling the developers promoted internally by taking it through several of our innovation programs. The Fling started as a concept at RADIO, our internal Innovation conference, then the developers built the proto type in Borathon, VMware’s hackathon. Then they released the tool as a Fling. This Fling’s functionality has gone into ESXi 6.5. Etienne Le Sueur, one of its developers, gave a talk through R&D Tech Talks, an internal communication program, to communicate the great success of this Fling to the rest of R&D.
It wasn’t long after that warm reception that this Fling’s functionality went on a roadmap and into vSphere 6.5. Still, vSphere HTML5 Web Client remains a Fling so that the team can continue to get valuable customer feedback as they continue development – something that makes or breaks any given Fling.
Flings are a global effort as well. Nan Wang, who has developed four Flings, lives in Beijing. One of his Flings, VMware OS Optimization Tool, has been in the Top 10 Flings since its release in 2012. Currently, Nan is working on a new Fling with a Chinese character meaning “watermark or seal” serving as its icon. This just goes to show that while there may be cultural differences from place to place, VMware and Flings remain global in their endeavors. You can learn more about Nan in the Developer Spotlight series.
Getting the Most Out of Your Fling
Recently, one of our Fling developers, Chris Halstead, gave an R&D Tech Talk called “How to Leverage the Fling Program.” Chris has six Flings out, all of which he created after having discussions with VMware customers. He turned the takeaways from these conversations into useful Flings for customers, all while advancing his own career in the process. You can read more about Chris Halstead and how to get the most out of the Fling program in the Developer Spotlight.
The Future of Flings
We now have 133 Flings and will add another six to our roster by the end of 2017. The success of Flings is due to the passion of VMware developers and the enthusiasm from our customers. Our devotion to Flings is anything but typical, and we look forward to delivering more Flings for years to come!
You can explore all the VMware Flings here: https://labs.vmware.com/flings
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