By Jean S. Bozman
VMware is harmonizing the traditional management style of VMware software stacks with CSP cloud provider services – making it possible for VMware to help its customer base move more quickly to cloud-enabled environments. The VMware products that support this strategy were announced at VMworld 2018 in August, 2018.
The aim of VMware’s strategy for hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments is to provide a consistent environment – whether it runs on-premises in a data center, or off-premises in a cloud. This strategy speaks to the difficulty of changing skill-sets even as the pull of cloud computing becomes ever-stronger.
Supporting a Familiar Environment
Operating in a familiar installation and deployment environment is extremely important to VMware’s current customer base. Longtime customers have invested deeply in on-premises VMware technology since the early 2000s. Customers have been tapping public clouds for some time – since business use of cloud computing emerged in 2008-2009 – and they are now migrating more enterprise workloads to private clouds and public clouds.
How will they get there? To achieve its goals for hybrid and multi-cloud, VMware is preserving customer’s investments in a series of VMware technologies. These technologies include VMware vSphere virtualization, VMware vSAN storage; VMware NSX networking and VMware vCenter management. Customers cited NSX networking, with its micro-segmentation of enterprise networks, as important to enterprise secure networking deployments.
Customers who spoke at VMworld 2018 appeared to be pleased with the idea of moving more VMware workloads into the cloud – as long as they could be assured of security, availability and compliance with governmental regulations. Many of them cited the need to comply with policies and regulations within their countries, or geographic regions.
Keys to the Cloud Strategy
Key to this strategy is VMware’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), as evidenced by VMware Cloud on AWS, which was announced one year ago. At one time, VMware had its own cloud-service offering, but realized that partnering with CSPs, including AWS, would speed its time-to-market and deepen customer adoption of hybrid clouds built to run on VMware’s software stack.
As announced at VMworld 2018, VMware Cloud on AWS will be available across all major geographic regions worldwide, as Asia-Pacific is added to VMware Cloud on AWS coverage in the Americas and Europe.
Importantly, VMware Cloud on AWS supports workload migration across the hybrid cloud without incurring downtime for applications and data. We note that VMware left the door open to multi-cloud support via the VMware Cloud Provider Program, involving other CSPs. Full details of the VMware Cloud on AWS updates can be found here.
It’s important to note that a large number of other CSPs are actively part of the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP) to support the overall hybrid cloud strategy. IBM Cloud was announced two years ago as a CSP for VMware workload migration to the cloud. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) worked with VMware to develop VMware PKS for Kubernetes orchestration, and GCP supports VMware workloads on its public cloud. Microsoft Azure is another supported CSP platform for VMware products. In addition, many other CSPs are in the VMware Cloud Verified Program (VCPP), which is a subset of the VCPP program for partners that offer the full VMware SDDC stack on their public cloud.
New projects announced at VMworld included Project Dimension and Project Magna,. Both projects were demonstrated at VMworld as working beta programs, but they are in the final stages of testing before going into production.
Project Dimension extends VMware Cloud on AWS to on-premises sites, branch offices and edge locations. Project Magna is a VMware technology preview that leverages AI/ML to self-optimize virtual infrastructure. VMware positioned Project Magna as the enabler to a “self-driving” data center that improves application performance by repetitive optimization, based on a data center’s data-set sizes, code-sets and software stacks. VMware executives are pointing to these projects as signs the company is continuing to “build” as well as to “buy” cloud technology.
Wider Portfolio of Multi-Cloud Products
There is a wider portfolio play here, as well. The Project Dimension and Project Magna These initiatives are part of a VMware portfolio of cloud-enabling software. The portfolio includes VMware PKS for Kubernetes deployments; VMware Cloud Foundation and VMware Cloud Management; VMware vCloud Director; VMware NSX networking; VMware vSAN virtual storage; and vCenter console management.
Importantly, VMware is making sure that enterprise applications and relational databases – the mainstays of most enterprise environments – can be transferred to hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments. The Amazon RDS service is a good example of this, supporting relational databases including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server , MySQL and Postgres.
Buy vs. Build
The company is focused on growth, having achieved double-digit revenue growth in the most recent reported quarter. We expect to see the company focus on fast-growth market segments, including cloud computing, Kubernetes cloud orchestration; DevOps, IoT and Edge computing. Its partnership with Dell Technologies, which has majority ownership of VMware stock, is another factor spurring growth, as Dell’s installed base represents a broad sales opportunity for VMware’s software and its cloud portfolio.
VMware has also shown that it is willing to buy companies that accelerate its move into hybrid cloud and multi-cloud technologies. As mentioned earlier, VMware announced at VMworld its intention to acquire CloudHealth, a Boston company that supports cloud workload management in multi-cloud environments. Previous investments included acquiring NSX networking software when VMware acquired Nicira in 2012; VeloCloud in 2017; CloudVelox in 2018, and others.
VMware’s pattern of build-and-buy will likely continue to characterize the company’s move to cloud deployments, supporting growth in cloud environments. The “buy” pieces will be acquired to gain time-to-market in a highly competitive cloud software marketplace. The build components will continue to emerge, bringing VMware-specific capabilities, and VMware innovation, for “driving” the cloud, such as cloud management and cloud storage.