The company has spent the last few years selling the concept of the software-defined data center (SDDC) and, more recently, the enterprise hybrid cloud. Now it’s combining those two fascinations by extending the SDDC concept into the cloud, claiming to make it easier for enterprises to set up clouds and manage multiple, dissimilar clouds.
The new software and services — slated to be the centerpiece of CEO Pat Gelsinger’s opening keynote — are a way for VMware to assert its presence in this new era of commingled enterprise clouds. Of course, it’s also a way to expand the cloud presence for software including vSphere, VSAN, and NSX.
That includes clouds not based on VMware’s own software.
“We are expanding the concept of the heterogeneous cloud more broadly to cloud providers that are based on different stacks,” says Alberto Farronato, VMware’s senior director of product marketing.
For VMware, it’s a logical step. Like many others, the company has decided that the enterprise’s future is in hybrid clouds — that is, they’ll move some work onto public clouds such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and will keep some applications on-premises or in a private cloud.
A consequence of that trend is that this multicloud environment would become the equivalent of yesterday’s enterprise data center. For somebody offering the pieces to build an SDDC, it seems sensible to move the concept out into the cloud.
Building a VMware Cloud
VMware Cloud Foundation is the name of the new SDDC platform for the cloud. It packages VMware’s vSphere, VSAN, and NSX software into one stack. This means an enterprise could deploy all that software in one shot (figuratively speaking), making it easier to set up a cloud either on premises or on public cloud infrastructure.
Ideally, Cloud Foundation could also make it possible to run an application in multiple clouds without having to rewrite the application, Farronato says.
It’s analogous to what startups Platform9 and ZeroStack are doing in the OpenStack world. Each offers a sort of shrink-wrapped cloud, where an enterprise is handed the necessary software stack in one chunk, and cloud management is provided as a service.
In a similar spirit, VMware has lined up hardware partners. One is VCE, VMware’s sibling company within the EMC Federation, which plans to integrate Cloud Foundation onto an appliance called the VxRack 1000 SDDC, Farronato says.
Cloud Foundation will also be available pre-loaded inside clouds. IBM Cloud will be the first, with Big Blue expecting to support Cloud Foundation by the end of September.
And VMware’s own vCloud Air, along with certain vCloud Air partners, will be able to run Cloud Foundry starting in the fourth quarter, Farronato says.
To watch over all these clouds, VMware is introducing Cross-Cloud Services. Offered in software-as-a-service form, these tools would help an IT operator manage multiple clouds (whether they’re based on vSphere or not) and check networking and security in those clouds. Cross-Cloud Services will also be able to monitor an enterprise’s cloud usage costs, Farronato says.
Cross-Cloud Services are being introduced as a technology preview. VMware isn’t committing to a timeframe for delivering a product, but Farronato notes that conversations with beta customers will probably start in late 2016 or early 2017.