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An inside look into VMware's new hybrid cloud strategy

Brandon Butler | Feb. 4, 2015
Major new updates to vSphere and vSAN, combined with a big partnership with Google position VMware to take on Microsoft and Amazon in the cloud.

-VMware Integrated OpenStack: VMware has taken the open source code for cloud platform project OpenStack and made a free add-on to vSphere generally available that will allow an OpenStack cloud to be stood up and managed with VMware tools.

-NSX on vCloudAir: NSX is VMware's SDN product that allows for new networks to be spun up and down similar to how VMs are in vSphere. Doing so not only brings speed and agility to network management, but also allows security and firewall settings to be granularly controlled on those networks. VMware announced that its public cloud platform named vCloudAir will offer NSX features later this year.

-Partnership with Google: VMware and Google announced a partnership that will allow customers to use the vCloudAir public cloud portal to provision certain Google Cloud Platform features, such as scalable object storage, databases and a DNS.

It could be helpful to think about these news items in two major categories, suggests Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti. The updates to vSphere and vSAN appeal to VMware's core customers. "Enhancing vSphere keeps VMware out front of the compute virtualization pack, and enhancing storage and networking options extends their value to more data center resources," Bartoletti says. "That's VMware building on its strengths and offering more for its traditional data center buyers." VMware is showing customers that even as they explore new workloads like NoSQL databases and Hadoop deployments that tools like vSphere can still be used.

The other announcements - the Google partnership, the NSX/vCloudAir integrations and the OpenStack deployment - are all about next-generation, cloud-first applications, says Gary Chen, an analyst with IDC. In this market, VMware will have an uphill battle.

One of Gelsinger's strongest points for VMware is the common management platform that customers get to use between their private and public clouds. Chen says that is helpful for customers who may want to back up their disaster recovery site to vCloudAir, for example.

But a company like Microsoft has an equally appealing message for enterprise users. The combination of Microsoft's Systems Center private cloud platform and Azure public cloud is already established in the market as a hybrid cloud and will likely be VMware's biggest competition. VMware's new partnership with Google immediately added some important features and functionality to VMware's public cloud strategy though.

Gelsinger is still confident in VMware though because he says the company has other unique differentiators. Perhaps most exciting, he says, is the NSX features. Gelsinger argues that no other company has as strong network management technology, which he says is critical for a smooth cloud deployment. "The hybrid networking aspect of this announcement is really I'll say the magic that allows this true on and off-premise ability of the hybrid cloud to function," Gelsinger told Network World.


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