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IT pros considering cloud computing with VMware have a range of services to examine as VMware shifts from its virtualization past toward a cloud future by acquiring and partnering with a range of companies.
VMware built its business delivering virtualized services to enterprises running their own data centers. As cloud computing became more popular, the vendor faced significant challenges serving its large customer base while supplementing its product line to support multi-cloud deployments.
"VMware seems to have a viable strategy for meeting customers' multi-cloud needs; the question now is, can they deliver on it?" said Torsten Volk, managing research director at Enterprise Management Associates Inc. (EMA).
VMware's past and future lies in management
VMware's suite of management tools was a primary reason it became popular. The VMware cloud platform adapted this strategy with a multipronged approach. VMware began by enhancing its existing line to provide cloud support, which was antithetical to the on-premises-focused design of its original products.
The business also acquired various startups and extended its existing products to better enable cloud computing with VMware by addressing users' needs.
"Enterprises do not start off by thinking in terms of multi-cloud management; instead, they look for tools that address certain pain points," Volk said.
Cloud computing with VMware expanded with products that ease cloud administration. For instance, vRealize Network Insight provides network visibility and an understanding of traffic flow that enables cloud network planning and troubleshooting. VMware Discovery consolidates inventory information and cloud accounts from multiple clouds, which makes it possible to search for and identify enterprise workloads.
Cloud creates new requirements
Cloud differs from traditional system deployments, and new management requirements arise. One of the big challenges is to retool traditional software distribution and payment models.
"VMware has been moving away from server- and device-based licensing toward subscription services for its management tools," said Lauren E. Nelson, principal analyst at Forrester.
Many products are available in either structure, but transitioning between them sometimes requires customers to pay for two services.
In addition, new cloud-specific demands have arisen. A range of products that help businesses monitor usage, manage costs, allocate network resources, automate deployments, provide analytics and secure data transfers in a multi-cloud world can enhance cloud computing with VMware. VMware Cost Insight helps IT analyze cloud spend, find savings opportunities and communicate the cost of services to the business.
VMware builds partnerships for cloud initiatives
Businesses are increasingly moving workloads from on premises to the public cloud. Respondents to a 2017 EMA survey planned to move 19% of their on-premises applications to a public cloud within 12 months.
VMware recently forged alliances with leading public cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS). In August, the two vendors released VMware Cloud on AWS, which enables enterprises to run VMware Cloud Foundation on AWS. Businesses can manage AWS VMware workloads with the same tools used on premises. The agreement also provides VMware customers with high performance and latency that matches native AWS, Nelson said.
The company also has a partnership with IBM to support its cloud initiatives. IBM is delivering VMware Cloud Foundation as a service, which supports VMware vSphere for storage, networking virtualization with VMware NSX and lifecycle automation with VMware SDDC Manager.
Also, Microsoft is working with VMware partners to offer a bare-metal service that will run VMware stacks on Azure hardware.
A growing focus on developers
Cloud is changing the way companies purchase computer services. Many firms emphasize developers' needs more than operation requirements to deliver software upgrades quickly and easily.
Increasingly, enterprises are building cloud-only applications, and these services often don't include a virtualization layer. Developers are interested in new technology based on management frameworks like Kubernetes rather than legacy management solutions.
In November 2017, the vendor announced VMware Pivotal Container Service, which enables enterprises to deploy and operate container services, including Kubernetes, on VMware vSphere. VMware and Pivotal developed this service in collaboration with Google Cloud Platform.
VMware's strength is in its virtualization software and management tools. The demand for cloud computing with VMware is forcing the company to move out of its comfort zone.