Adopting VMware's cloud middleware for enterprises with diverse workloads

Meredith Courtemanche

Savvis, a data center colocation and cloud computing company, launched its enterprise cloud services on VMware virtualization tools and a middleware solution that Savvis developed in-house. In 2012, Savvis switched to vCloud Director, VMware's cloud middleware.

Jonathan King, VP of cloud solutions at Town & Country, Mo.-based Savvis, a CenturyLink company, describes what vCloud Director added to their cloud capabilities, how enterprises use cloud -- including AWS -- and what the next step is after enterprises adopt cloud.

Could you describe Savvis' cloud infrastructure?

Jonathan King: Last year, we offered savvisdirect based on [Citrix] Xen for SMBs, and we continue to offer Savvis Symphony based on VMware for enterprises. Symphony VPDC is a multi-tenant public cloud hosted from multiple locations, including Singapore; Frankfurt, Germany; Toronto; and several U.S. data centers.

We also offer Symphony Dedicated -- private cloud on demand -- from all of these data centers as well as over 20 more.

Why did you use VMware for cloud hosting?

King: [Our] clients have vSphere and other VMware tools running in their own data centers, so it is easy for them to federate with Savvis. Folks are trained on VMware, and they know VMware.

VMware-based Symphony cloud services are supported by non-VMware products as well, for example in storage and Database as a Service. Savvis has 20 to 30 ecosystem partners in disaster recovery, orchestration, systems tool management, etc.

What about vCloud Director led you to replace Savvis's cloud middleware?

King: We had the vCloud Director API in mind. Previously, we had developed our own cloud middleware to manage the VMware cloud [referring to Symphony]. Now we can launch a vCloud Director-enabled cloud.

There's been a lot of improvement made in vCloud Director 5.1, but there's still a ways to go. VMware's aspiration is to fully integrate DynamicOps into vCloud Director, but this takes time.

What's the case to be made for a VMware-hosted cloud instead of Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

King: It isn't just one or the other. Clients work with multiple cloud options. Global 2000 companies are virtualized, and most have private cloud infrastructure. Almost all of these companies use VMware for virtualization. But some workload, somewhere in the company, is on AWS or another public cloud. Maybe it's a workload from an acquisition, maybe an ad agency or test and development.

What we offer is a portfolio of services around the cloud platform -- colocation, managed services, network services -- that Global 2000 companies can use. It's a valuable component with the same strategy and roadmap as the user.

Users say, "Why is XYZ workload in my data center?" Or, "Where will this new workload live?" Hybrid cloud allows customers to move workloads between private and public cloud platforms, as well as between different public clouds. This is a better user experience.

What additional tools support this workload management?

King: Today, we have tools to help move cloud workloads around from one cloud to another. The aim is interoperability. Tomorrow, with software-defined networking, we can take this even further. VMware's acquisition of Nicira points in this direction, but there's no concrete product from it that we can use today.

We're focused on vCloud Director now, and keeping track of what VMware is working on. We're also excited about the VMware Cloud Credits program. Start with on-premises private cloud and data center consolidation, and leave the door open with these credits for cloud bursting to a public cloud. This is all enabled by the vCloud Director API and the supply chain surrounding it.

The easier it is to deploy different kinds of cloud workloads, the most customers will use your cloud platform. That's the idea with [VMware] vFabric. Our clients can provision apps easily and deploy blueprints easily. This is often the next step for companies that have adopted cloud computing. "What are you making it easier for me to do once I get there?" -- that's what enterprises want to know with cloud. Savvis did a demo at VMworld Barcelona [2012] where we virtualized Drupal as a virtual app hosted in the cloud.

VMware is acknowledging its own need to be interoperable. We believe that's the impetus behind Nicira and DynamicOps acquisitions and investments in Puppet.

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