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VMware cloud strategy claims new territory with Wavefront acquisition

A year into its AWS partnership, VMware looks to keep its cloud momentum by purchasing Wavefront, the leading cross-cloud monitoring, metrics and analytics service.

In a major departure for the company -- and a major step up in its cloud strategy -- VMware acquired cross-cloud monitoring, metrics and analytics company Wavefront in April 2017. VMware's journey to the cloud has been rocky, to say the least, but it isn't for lack of trying. Previous efforts, such as vCloud Director and the short-lived vCloud Air, have failed to seriously compete with offerings from large-scale cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Azure. Despite these stumbling blocks, VMware has continued to move toward the cloud in an attempt to combat rising license costs associated with scaling, and the company might have found its place in this new ecosystem.

The foundation of the new and improved VMware cloud strategy is partnerships, particularly the company's recent partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS). As part of this partnership, an administrator can now run a VMware infrastructure inside AWS. Administrators are now able to try out a relatively new technology -- cloud -- from the comfort of an infrastructure they already know well. Ideally, this will speed the adoption of additional cloud resources because VMware already offers infrastructure and NSX portability between onsite and the cloud, which eliminates the issue of moving and reconfiguring workloads.

VMware seizes an opportunity

There's just one thing missing from this plan: monitoring. AWS, Azure, IBM and other cloud providers offer some level of monitoring, but it's often fractured across multiple tools from third-party vendors. These cloud providers emphasize the portability and configuration of workloads, but stop paying attention once workloads reach their destinations. As you can imagine, this leaves a pretty big hole, one most IT personnel aren't happy to see. Although VMware has its own monitoring software and tools, they're designed for infrastructure, not the cloud. Rather than try to develop its own cloud monitoring products, VMware decided to purchase a mature offering and integrate it into its software stack, much like it did with AirWatch.

Data centers are typically in a state of flux as workloads move not just to the cloud, but to multiple different clouds depending on the workload, specialty and cost. Although the cost-saving aspect of multicloud appeals to the business side, it fractures tools and management on the IT side. Some monitoring products operate as a single pane of glass, but it's rare to find one that does it all. Many come close, though, and share a common subset of products, which is good enough for most data centers. However, the challenge with public cloud is that these monitoring products have different owners and a varied set of interfaces depending on the services the cloud offers.

Wavefront is good for business

VMware already had its own set of monitoring tools for data center infrastructure, but didn't have much in place for the private cloud and even less for public cloud. Therefore, it made more sense for VMware to purchase a unified cross-cloud monitoring tool rather than build one from scratch. The Wavefront acquisition gives VMware quick entry into a cloud market in serious need of attention. It's also good for business. VMware intends to position Wavefront as a business tool that balances costs, cloud performance and local data center services with customer experience. This data-driven approach will help managers and staff make more enlightened decisions about what types of environments they use.

This move helps solidify the VMware cloud strategy in a market in which the company has had very mixed results. Although VMware owns a large percentage of the data center, when it comes to cloud, AWS and Azure still reign supreme. The Wavefront acquisition allows VMware to own a slice of the pie that no one has stepped forward to claim ownership of rather than go head to head with competitors. Though it comes with some challenges -- namely integration and dealing with ever-changing APIs and interfaces from major cloud providers -- this purchase looks to be a smart move forward for the VMware cloud strategy.

Next Steps

Details about VMware-AWS deal remain elusive

Wavefront acquisition pushes VMware into realm of DevOps

VMware starts over after sale of vCloud Air

This was last published in July 2017

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