VMware Leaves the Data Protection Market

Back in April, VMware announced the end of life for its vSphere Data Protection (VDP) product. This little nugget was once again hidden in a blog post, in which VMware stated that moving forward after vSphere 6.5, it would be helping to consolidate backup and recovery by realigning its focus on its Storage APIs. Now, before you go into full panic mode, you do not need to worry: the VMware Lifecycle Product Matrix gives the relevant end-of-general-support dates for each version, and 6.1, the latest, is supported until mid-March 2020. You will have to plenty of time to plan your migration if you are using VDP.

That said, I have not come across any major deployment utilising the product. This is one of the major drivers bringing development on the product to an end—this and the fact that VMware’s lord and master, Dell Technologies, wants to push Dell EMC’s Avamar as the Federation’s data protection of choice.

In fact, Dell EMC is offering a complimentary migration to Avamar Virtual Edition. To be fair, the migration path is not going to be too onerous, as VDP is based on Avamar.

This was not exactly an unexpected announcement. VMware has been quietly sidelining the VDP product over a number of vSphere releases. In 2015, it dropped the advanced version by bundling all the features in the standard version and then effectively giving it away with the majority of vSphere editions.

What is interesting is that this announcement is actually beneficial to the greater ecosystem, too. Not only Dell EMC and Avamar, but also partners like Veeam, Unitrends, NAKIVO, Cristie Software, and Vembu will all benefit from a more open API, and a major pain point for their sales pipeline has effectively been removed. Now that VMware is no longer in that market space, there is a potential for third-party data protection products’ sales cycles to be shorted. Customers will not be waiting until they realize that VDP did not meet their requirements before they start to investigate the much more functional offerings of the data protection vendors.

I am starting to like this new VMware, with its focus on what is necessary and not the whole. VDP was a distraction that it couldn’t really afford. VMware is in a pivotal position regarding its survival.

Taken in isolation, this move and the decision to offload the underperforming vCloud Air division could look to be the actions of a wounded animal—VMware is cutting down on its product portfolio, offloading underperforming divisions—but this is very much not the case. I firmly believe that VMware is getting its ducks in line before the shoot. Its Cross-Cloud initiative is a huge gamble in terms of a strategic play. VMware has made great strides over the last eighteen months in moving the company in this direction. By removing distractions that soak up valuable resources, it is starting to bring its vision into focus.

VMware is aiming to be the Switzerland of cloud enablers.

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