VMware’s partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) – the subject of the lead keynote at VMworld2017 – is the latest sign of VMware’s conviction that its future is enabling a multi-cloud, hybrid IT world. The multi-cloud strategy is based on the idea that most customers have multiple paths to public clouds as they migrate workloads, often leveraging specific clouds to host specific workloads.
As part of that strategy, VMware and AWS are delivering a fully managed service called VMware Cloud on AWS, as announced last year. This is a VMware environment that offers consistent infrastructure between on-premises data centers and the VMware Cloud on AWS service. VMware executives said VMware Cloud on AWS is now available in the Oregon region of AWS, with more regions to be added in coming quarters, with a planned worldwide rollout through 2018.
The VMworld keynote was loud and clear – with AWS CEO Andy Jassy joining VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger in a Day One keynote at VMworld. It is significant because of AWS’s reach as the largest public cloud – and the agreement for VMware and AWS engineers will work to co-develop the VMware Cloud on AWS service. AWS is often a go-to-provider for app/dev and test/dev workloads, due to its first-mover presence in the cloud marketplace in 2008, and its pioneering of pay-as-you-go IaaS cloud services with EC2 for compute and S3 for storage.
At the same time, VMware is expanding its partnerships with other CSPs to ensure that its strategic goals for multi-cloud computing are met.
VMware’s vCloud Services
VMware executives described a set of VMware’s vCloud services that are designed to provide consistent operations across any cloud – even with a different set of native cloud services. This will become increasingly important as the multi-cloud strategy moves ahead, and customers move a higher percentage of their business workloads to a variety of public clouds.
The vCloud services are: Discovery for locating cloud resources; Cost Insight for cost analysis of cloud services; Wavefront for real-time monitoring; Network Insight to discover network services; NSX Cloud for networking and security; AppDefense for security and Workspace ONE for virtual desktops. The focus on monitoring, security and availability aligns with customer priorities as more business workloads are migrating from enterprise IT data centers to public cloud services.
A Multi-Partnership, Multi-Cloud Strategy
It’s important to note that the AWS partnership does not preclude other partnerships with other cloud service providers (CSPs). Last year, VMworld announced a partnership with IBM on hosted cloud services running on the IBM Cloud. VMware has also expanded its partnerships with Microsoft Azure for end-user computing and Google Cloud Platform (GCP) specifically around Kubernetes orchestration and container support. These relationships are at different stages of development, and were detailed in previous VMware announcements.
More CSP partnerships can be expected, in the U.S. and Asia/Pacific – especially in China, with its large customer presence. Having multiple cloud relationships achieves VMware’s business objectives, as well. It gives VMware customers paths to the major cloud service providers (CSPs), as it expands the VMware ecosystem. That ecosystem now includes hundreds of vendors, including hardware and software companies, system integrators, and more than 4,000 cloud service providers operating in more than 100 countries.
The AWS partnership widens VMware’s reach into the cloud, in the same year that it divested its own vCloud Air program, which was acquired by OVH Group, a global hyper-scale CSP, in May, 2017. OVH, with operations centered in the Americas and Europe, is focusing on customer scenarios for data center extension, data center consolidation, and data center recovery.
Moving VMs and Containers Across the Clouds
It is clear that customers already live in an on-prem, off-prem world, with some workloads migrating to the public cloud, while others stay on-prem for reasons of geographic isolation, or concerns about security. It is also clear that customers want options – because they want to be able to direct workloads to specific CSP services.
VMware’s strategy and roadmap were more detailed and clear at this VMworld than at last years’ event – so the path to hybrid cloud for applications, and the path to multi-cloud operations for cloud services is spelled out.
This is a world of co-opetition, in which companies both partner and compete, supporting a wide range of cloud-centric solutions. So, it is not surprising that VMware is expanding its partnerships with CSPs and ISVs to ensure that its strategic goals for multi-cloud computing are met. It also recognizes the diversity of cloud services – and its need to be a player in that diverse universe of providers.
The key to VMware’s multi-cloud strategy: providing consistent software tools and interoperability for the software stacks supporting hybrid clouds. The VMware software stack includes APIs and open standards that allow customers to build hybrid cloud links between enterprise data centers and cloud services (public or private clouds). This is, effect, providing more leverage for VMware technology, including VMware vCenter software, to manage more workloads, across more clouds, than ever before.
We believe that inclusion of open standards is vital to VMware’s multi-cloud strategy – both for pragmatic reasons and to ensure interoperability between technically different software stacks.
VMware’s partnership with Google and Pivotal, (a Dell Technologies company) for Pivotal Container Service (PKS), also announced at VMworld 2017, will operationalize the well-known open-source container orchestration framework Kubernetes, leveraging the open-source Kubo (Kubernetes on BOSH) technology. In addition, PKS will keep constant compatibility with Google Container Engine (GKE) and integration with Google Compute Platform services through the integrated Open Service Broker API (also known as OSB).
Some Perspective from 2009
The move to multi-cloud was envisioned back in 2009, when then-CEO Paul Maritz white-boarded the need to link multiple clouds as intrinsic to a hybrid cloud strategy. Maritz described three major waves of virtualization adoption: 1) adopting virtualization for IT efficiency, 2) building products and services for applications running in VMs, and 3) moving business and enterprise workloads to the cloud.
Today, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger is driving VMware’s R&D and managing the business as it enables this move to multi-cloud hybrid IT – making Waves 2 and 3 happen for customers. At the same time, VMware realizes that there is a spectrum of customers and IT adoption of cloud technology, making it important to present customers with multiple options for hybrid cloud. This is the foundation of the multi-cloud strategy for VMware.