Giambruno said he used VMware's software to virtualize 1,200 virtual machines, supported on 70 physical servers, which he says allowed him to easily move applications between the organization as needed. "It's way simpler bringing up new infrastructure and copying my apps [virtually] rather than picking up literally thousands of servers and moving them [to the new company]," Giambruno said. He also virtualized the network, and later, the storage capabilities, all of which are supported by a lean IT staff of 43 people.
The VMware system then senses when compute, storage and network capabilities are reaching their capacity threshold and emails and administrators, who then approve the provisioning of new resources. The system does the rest. Giambruno calls it a software-defined data center. But it's also a hybrid cloud, connecting with human resources software such as Workday and budget forecasting software from Anaplan, among other software-as-a-service providers Giambruno uses to operate the business. "It's what I call indiscriminate computing; my ability to move my assets wherever but maintain security and availability," he said.
Plenty of clouds to go around
Giambruno and Benson are outliers. The majority of CIOs are still struggling with integrating various components of on-premises, private cloud and public cloud solutions and haven't committed to a software-defined data center. VMware must also contend with competition from public cloud providers such as AWS, which has made it simple for anyone from marketing heads to developers to purchase compute resources with a credit card. Netflix, Airbnb, the CIA and other high-profile organizations run large portions of their businesses on AWS, which reported revenues of $5.97 billion for fiscal year 2015.
VMware is confident that there is room for multiple cloud providers, particularly those that can help them build software defined data centers in which the infrastructure can be programmed on the fly rather than manually set up and installed. But it marks a cultural shift that's not going to happen overnight, Chris Wolf, vice president and CTO of Americas, told CIO.com. "There's going to be some resistance and it's going to feel a little uncomfortable for the average technologist in the trenches, but they're going to look back and say 'Why did we ever do it that way?.'"
With business increasingly relying on Web and mobile applications to serve their customers, VMware has the opportunity to add new levels of efficiency at the server, network and storage layers, says IDC analyst Matt Eastwood. "They're going to grow by taking share from traditional hardware infrastructure providers."
It’s still early days in this journey. But with CIOs still struggling with how to build their digital businesses, it’s incumbent on VMware and other infrastructure companies explain why a software-defined data center supporting a hybrid cloud is preferable, he said.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.