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CIOs embrace hybrid cloud and software-defined data centers

Clint Boulton | Sept. 3, 2015
CIOs say they are purchasing VMware virtualization software to support mobile applications and content for rapidly scaling computing environments.

Companies building mobile and Web applications to support their digital businesses depend on a mix of private and public clouds to exchange data, said Bill Fathers, VMware's executive vice president and general manager of cloud services, at the company’s VMworld customer event here Monday.

Fathers said companies are struggling to deal with a "fundamental shift in application deployment patterns,” That's forced CIOs to think about "network architecture and data residency." In short: how data is moving back and forth between various on-premises systems and cloud environments the apps connect to. VMware is aiming to address these challenges with its unified hybrid cloud, which includes server, storage and network resources designed to enable companies to run any application on any device. The company announced several new software products in support of this initiative.

VMware made its name selling server virtualization software, which allows companies to run multiple instances of an operating system on servers, a major shift from the traditional one-OS-per-box approach. Virtualized computing is the hallmark of today’s Web-scale cloud environments, which use commodity servers and software to address spikes in demand. Thanks to considerable internal development, a talent infusion and acquisitions, VMware has extended its automation technologies to storage and the network, offering a software-defined data center that is intended to compete with public cloud services from Amazon Web Services and others.

VMware gains trust among CIOs seeking hybrid clouds

The hybrid cloud approach appealed to Mike Benson, CIO of DirecTV, who began using VMware in 2008 to virtualize servers. DirecTV has since incorporated VMware storage and network virtualization. Benson said DirecTV must plan for massive spikes in content demand for such things as boxing fights and professional football via TVs as well as computers, smartphones and tablets. He supports this content with a mixed bag of private, public and hybrid cloud services. "Unified hybrid cloud is our strategy," Benson said during the general session. "We've moved from manual, rigid delivery to software-friendly delivery."

"Software-friendly delivery" is essentially a software-defined data center, which enables companies to provision virtual compute, storage and network capabilities automatically rather than setting up equipment and installing software on it. Such software cuts provisioning time for days and weeks to seconds, and is a big selling point for VMware's unified hybrid cloud strategy.

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Clint Boulton. VMware's software-defined data center. (Click for larger image.)

CIOs such as Tribune Media's David Giambruno finds this approach is liberating. In 2014, the media company split into Tribune Media and Tribune Publishing. Giambruno remained with Tribune Media, the parent company, but the publishing spinoff took all of the infrastructure with it, leaving him with the daunting task of standing up a new IT environment to support more than 200 applications and 7,000 employees. "I wanted to take the infrastructure out of the way, and let people do whatever business process transactions they require on any device," Giambruno told yesterday.


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