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VMware SaaS strategy bridges requirements from data center to cloud

VMware's effort to embrace SaaS tools might seem counterintuitive, but it's a move that recognizes both the appeal of the cloud and the continued necessity of on-site data centers.

SaaS offerings have matured to a point where they're enterprise-ready, drawing the attention of both businesses...

interested in adopting these new offerings and vendors, such as VMware.

Like virtualization, SaaS aims to reduce the data center hardware footprint. Compared with the traditional hardware model, which only encompasses a single application server, virtualized hardware is designed to host multiple application servers. SaaS takes things a step further: It reduces the amount of workloads and resources hosted in your data center and instead moves them to the cloud. Given that VMware made its fortune on virtualization, it might resist cloud-based offerings. But that isn't the case. In fact, the vendor is leading the charge with VMware SaaS offerings, including VMware Cloud Services and NSX as a service.

VMware designs SaaS tools for on site and cloud

It might seem strange for VMware to offer so many of its monitoring, security and mobile management tools as SaaS products when, for the most part, they monitor on-site data center resources, but it's an approach that makes sense in the grand scheme of things. Not every application can run as a service, either for legal or compliance reasons. The same goes for applications with heavy customization, which can't be easily tailored to the one-size-fits-all SaaS model.

Not every application can run as a service, either for legal or compliance reasons. The same goes for applications with heavy customization, which can't be easily tailored to the one-size-fits-all SaaS model.

Consequently, most organizations will likely retain some level of data center equipment on site and continue to require some level of virtualized infrastructure. If a company can use a single SaaS product to monitor, manage and secure applications both on site and in the cloud, it can reduce the on-site footprint and the amount of resources needed.

Although its structure is more similar to that of an infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, VMware Cloud (VMC) on Amazon Web Services (AWS) helps round out VMware's product portfolio for the cloud and provides a level of flexibility that the modern data center has never seen before. Between VMware SaaS monitoring and management tools and VMC on AWS, it's possible for a data center that uses VMware products to be completely in the cloud with all the security, compliance and customization that on-premises equipment traditionally provides.

This might sound like an ideal setup, but VMC on AWS comes at a premium cost, so the on-site data center is unlikely to go away or be trimmed back significantly anytime soon, which explains the investment in VMware SaaS products. VMware has strategically positioned itself to address the needs of both on-site data centers and cloud-based applications, either on a single cloud or across multiple clouds, so it doesn't matter where VMware customers land between the two.

The continued need for data center admins

The advent of SaaS has had a major effect on the role of the data center administrator, as back-end skills have given way to the need for application front-end skills. While that might be good for business, it isn't for highly trained and highly paid data center administrators who are now overqualified for application-focused roles and could see their salaries decrease. Some companies have even gone so far as to lay off staff to reduce overhead, but this is a risky decision -- one they might come to regret. Just because something moves to the cloud doesn't necessarily mean it will stay there.

Some workloads that make the transition to the cloud might be missing custom configurations, which could necessitate a return to on-site hosting or an approach that looks more like IaaS. In such situations, the back-end skills of a highly trained admin are indispensable. When making SaaS purchasing decisions, bear in mind that nothing with the cloud is set in stone; flexibility and adaptability are essential, and personnel who can work with both on-site and cloud-based resources are an asset as the landscape continues to change.

This was last published in January 2018

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