VMware has long been known as one of the top server virtualization software providers, but in recent years, it has staked its claim in the cloud market, as well. Since it first announced its vCloud initiative in 2008, VMware has released a number of cloud formats, including vCloud Director, vCloud Air, VMware Integrated OpenStack and vRealize Suite. With so many VMware cloud services readily available, and many closely related to one another, it's easy to understand how customers can get a little lost.
The VMware cloud strategy originated with two infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud offerings: vCloud Air and vCloud Director. These products were targeted at enterprise-level customers, providing options for creating public cloud formats on which end users can deploy their infrastructure. Just as VMware began to find its footing in the cloud, a new platform entered the market: OpenStack.
VMware adapts to open source cloud
Launched in July 2010, OpenStack immediately stood out because of its open application programming interface, which makes it extremely easy to develop applications against OpenStack, or to integrate OpenStack in existing offerings. As an example, think of the individual parts that make up OpenStack as Lego blocks. When those blocks are pieced together, they create a cohesive unit; in this case, an open cloud format. Within this open framework, there's a place for both proprietary and nonproprietary offerings from different vendors.
As customer demand for OpenStack increased, VMware scrambled for a response, and in 2015, the company released its first version of VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO). VIO provides a layer on top of vSphere Enterprise Plus, in which OpenStack components are introduced to deploy VMs on top of an existing vSphere infrastructure.
By introducing VIO as part of the VMware cloud strategy, the company created new opportunities. First and foremost, VMware became an OpenStack distribution, allowing it to compete with traditional Linux-based OpenStack distributions, such as Ubuntu, Red Hat, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Mirantis. Next, VMware opened its IaaS cloud offering for developers, making it accessible to anything happening in the OpenStack community. Finally, VMware brought the IaaS cloud down from the enterprise and infrastructure-level companies to smaller-sized businesses. These smaller organizations could then offer IaaS services to their internal and external customers, leveraging their existing vSphere-based infrastructure. All of these factors contributed to the success of VIO, making it the backbone of the VMware cloud strategy, and made it the go-to IaaS offering for VMware customers who want to run their own cloud.
The relationship between VIO and vRealize
While VIO provides a strong replacement for older IaaS offerings, such as vCloud Air and vSphere Directory, VMware has another format that meets the needs of customers who want to deploy workloads in a flexible way: vRealize Suite. This format can be used as either an alternative or valuable addition to VIO. VIO makes it possible to deploy instances in a flexible way, while vRealize Suite makes it easy to deploy specific workloads on top of an IaaS cloud.
VRealize Suite works well in environments that have no need for the open source nature of OpenStack, as it provides a complete IaaS format on its own. In environments that do require an open cloud, it makes more sense to run vRealize in conjunction with VIO, because, when offered together, they create an open IaaS cloud with a robust deployment platform. Of course, customers aren't obligated to run both programs simultaneously. If your primary goal is to deliver IaaS cloud with an interface where end users can easily deploy the VMs they need without sophisticated templates, VIO is sufficient by itself.
Thanks to its open source nature and its ability to run in conjunction with, or separate from, vRealize Suite, VIO has replaced vCloud Director and vCloud Air as VMware's leading cloud software. So, what's next for the company? In February 2016, VMware announced its intentions to focus in the hybrid cloud, with the introduction of vRealize Suite 7. While the efficiency and usability of this release remains to be seen, it's clear that the VMware cloud strategy will continue to evolve in the coming years.
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