What DevOps wants from a VMware cloud infrastructure

Application agility is the name of the game for DevOps pros and they see AWS beating VMware-hosted cloud infrastructures. But VMware users may revolt.

VMware has dominated the platform IT discussion for a decade, establishing its hypervisor in enterprises of all kinds. When a new platform -- cloud computing -- arrived on the scene, VMware's dominance became tricky to maintain. This series of tips identifies what VMware hosting needs to succeed, starting with cloud computing agility and continuing with stack heterogeneity and enterprise hosting options.

VMware virtualization made infrastructure more efficient while leaving IT organizations and roles basically undisturbed. IT organizations could install VMware virtualization software and benefit economically without disrupting conventional jobs. Then came cloud computing, which marries virtualization to automation. Application groups within enterprises have discovered how much faster application development and provisioning can go with cloud hosting companies like Amazon Web Services (AWS), and are starting to insist that their internal infrastructures meet AWS's degree of automation. That's putting pressure on the VMware infrastructure to deliver in new ways.

VMware's cloud infrastructure can address this challenge if it enables end-to-end application lifecycle agility via automation. It's not enough to accelerate one part of the lifecycle -- every part needs to have supporting products and processes.

VMware's cloud computing obstacles

Networking is arguably the thorniest issue thwarting IT automation. VMware's acquisition of Nicira is a step toward software-defined networking (SDN) tools. The question remains how quickly VMware can move Nicira's intellectual property into mainstream SDN products that IT pros actually implement.

VMware's users could be a surprising barrier to automation in the VMware cloud infrastructure. VMware's users have prospered by controlling the platform; they may not willingly give this power over to developer self-service. And it's important to consider that many private cloud plans provide little more than virtualization.

Developers, who represent the part of IT where the value is -- applications -- aren't likely to be satisfied with a VMWare cloud infrastructure without full automation available. They've seen the future in the form of AWS -- and it works. Now they want the same cloud services capability available internally.

While DevOps job titles are trendy, most IT organizations aren't ready for a revolution -- and that's an upside for VMware. DevOps relies on server, storage and other resources that VMware has a strong history in optimizing, but cloud computing changes how applications deploy on these resources. Many companies want a trusted vendor like VMware to offer automation and agility in its products, interpreting the DevOps and cloud computing trends in a way that enterprise IT fully understands.

Continue reading to understand VMware cloud computing's battle with stack heterogeneity.

This was first published in March 2013

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