Dan's Take

VMworld Cloud Announcements: An Analysis

Good integration, but questions persist.

VMware is starting off VMworld 2016 with a bang. It just launched its "VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture" with the stated goal of making it possible for "customers to manage, govern, and secure applications running across public clouds, including AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud."

VMware describes its architecture in the following way:

"The Cross-Cloud Architecture enables consistent deployment models, security policies, visibility, and governance for all applications, running on-premises and off-premises, regardless of the underlying cloud, hardware platform or hypervisor. VMware's Cross-Cloud Architecture builds on its leading private and hybrid cloud capabilities by offering customers the freedom to innovate in multiple clouds, and is delivered through VMware Cloud Foundation, a new set of Cross-Cloud Services which VMware is developing and the VMware vRealize cloud management platform."
VMware Cloud Foundation
VMware described its new VMware Cloud Foundation as  a "unified SDDC [software-defined datacenter] platform for the hybrid cloud." It combines vSphere and Virtual SAN (VSAN); its NSX software-defined networking technology and SDDC to make it easier to design and deploy hyper-converged software environments. VMware claims that the Cloud Foundation makes it possible for "customers can gain a 6-8x reduction in time to deploy cloud infrastructure, and save 30-40 percent on TCO."

Dan's Take: Echoes of the Past
Reading through the release recalled to me press releases I had written while working at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), now part of HPE. I found myself thinking along the same lines I did while listening to the Cisco folks during their discussion of their Cisco DNA announcement back in March 2016 (see "Cisco Moves Heavy Into SDN With Digital Network Architecture.")

As with the Cisco announcement, I noticed elements of presentations I developed years ago while serving as a member of DEC's Network and Communications Group (NAC). NAC, by the way, created DEC's Digital Network Architecture (DNA), its networking software, its networking products and worked closely with the groups responsible for systems, operating systems, networking and storage devices. This technology pre-dated today's TCP/IP and was made available under the name DECnet.

DEC almost always designed a comprehensive, exhaustive architecture before writing a single line of code or sketching out a development plan for hardware. The goals always were to future-proof the customer's environment, make the environment reliable, provide performance as strong as reasonably possible, make it manageable and make it secure.

In this case, however, it appears more that VMware's trying to find ways to gather up its currently available technology and present it as a comprehensive platform for cloud computing. Nearly all the products discussed in CEO Pat Gelsinger's keynote have been available for quite some time. What appears to be new is the name, as well as the grouping of the products together.

Questions Abound
While it's good to see that VMware is developing tools to make it easier for its customers to integrate with AWS, Azure and IBM Cloud, there are other cloud platforms out there that enterprises have selected.

However, questions still need to be answered. Is VMware going to reach out to service suppliers supporting Red Hat, HPE, SUSE or other versions of OpenStack? Will their products integrate well with enterprise clouds that are based on other (i.e., non-vSphere) hypervisors? Will VMware's management tools be extended to manage non-VMware SDDC computing environments? The answers are not yet known.

What is clear is that VMware is doing its best to create a computing environment that will please both its current service provider friends and its own customers.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.

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