VMware’s Hybrid Cloud Is Spanning the Globe

As we hear more about VMware, AWS, and IBM, a new story emerges. VMware is talking about cross-cloud management. VMware is also talking about cloud-native applications. VMware is also talking about how you go from the data center to the cloud. VMware is talking about how to transform into a hybrid cloud. It appears there is an interesting thread throughout this. We have read about the winners and losers in VMware’s new approach, but what most are missing is that there are no real losers. There are just winners. It depends on your mindset. The Achilles’ heel of IT is not hybrid cloud, but scale. How do we scale up our applications fast enough to handle the new IT? The approach VMware is taking is a major pivot for it. Let us look at some fundamentals.

On the one hand, VMware plus IBM SoftLayer is a bare-metal cloud based on VMware vSphere. SoftLayer manages the VMware vSphere environment using the cross-cloud management solutions from VMware. On the other hand, we have AWS, where VMware will be managing a bare-metal VMware vSphere deployment. These are two very different managed services for two slightly different customers. Now we add into this mix Virtustream, which is already a top VMware vSphere managed service.

All AWS is providing is the bare-metal hardware. VMware is doing the rest. In the case of IBM and Virtustream, VMware provides the software, and these companies do the rest. Not quite cross-cloud actually, this is by definition a like-for-like hybrid cloud configuration. You tie in your data center, and you manage VMware vSphere using VMware-based tools. Are they crossing cloud boundaries? Certainly they are, but it is still like-for-like. VMware is not managing EC2 on your behalf, just the VMware vSphere environment.

This gives enterprises a number of places to extend their data centers. It extends the concept of the hybrid cloud. It extends VMware’s product scope outside of its own bastions and provides its customers with choice. Choice is important when it comes to a managed service. I fully expect many more clouds to join this mix, as long as they offer a bare-metal cloud solution. Perhaps Rackspace or Colt is next on the list to add?

This does not mean this is the end of the cross-cloud, dislike-to-dislike clouds either. Those management tools have a niche and are valuable. Such tools as Embotics still have a place. In fact, none of the third-party tools that work with VMware vCenter actually lose out in the new hybrid cloud from VMware that includes IBM and AWS. Those tools will now be able to manage many more systems. It is, after all, VMware vSphere and vCenter under the covers. This solution helps Dell EMC as well as VMware, as it presents the enterprise hybrid cloud with new consulting opportunities.

Yet all this is the present, not the future.

What Is the Future for VMware?

The future is the ability to use this new hybrid cloud to create new applications using containers such as Docker managed by Kubernetes or, in VMware’s case, managed by VMware Integrated Containers (VIC) and even Photon Platform. I fully expect that VIC, once released, will become part and parcel of its hybrid cloud strategy, part and parcel of its AWS and IBM offerings. This addition will start the process for many organizations to bridge from hybrid cloud to containers. Once they are managing containers, their hybrid cloud ends up as the gateway to cross-cloud (or dislike-to-dislike cloud infrastructures).

This shift will take mindset changes as well as cloud management changes. Actually, it takes moving management up the stack to just deal with applications and not clouds per se.

VMware with AWS and IBM, and soon many others, is taking the next two steps. After that, we shall see.

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Edward Haletky
Edward L. Haletky, aka Texiwill, is the author of VMware vSphere(TM) and Virtual Infrastructure Security: Securing the Virtual Environment as well as VMware ESX and ESXi in the Enterprise: Planning Deployment of Virtualization Servers, 2nd Edition. Edward owns AstroArch Consulting, Inc., providing virtualization, security, network consulting and development and The Virtualization Practice where he is also an Analyst. Edward is the Moderator and Host of the Virtualization Security Podcast as well as a guru and moderator for the VMware Communities Forums, providing answers to security and configuration questions. Edward is working on new books on Virtualization. [All Papers/Publications...]
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