Why VMware is going ‘space-age’ with Google and embracing OpenStack

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Credit: Jakub Mosur

VMware has developed a reputation in some circles as being proprietary and less innovative than it was when the company made server virtualization a household word in the IT space, and it’s trying to change that. Yeah, its bread and butter is still in supporting existing applications on existing virtual infrastructure, but there’s a lot opportunity to make that a much better experience.

Bill Fathers, VMware’s executive vice president and general manager of cloud services, came on the Structure Show podcast this week to explain what [company]VMware[/company] is up to in the cloud computing space and how it’s trying to keep pushing the envelope. Here are some of the better quotes from the interview, but you’ll probably want to listen to the whole thing, including for some rather candid assessments and defenses of the company’s business, and the increasing importance of the network.

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OpenStack out of necessity

“What we’re seeing is a lot of our clients are starting to embrace OpenStack, they almost reach a glass ceiling in terms of how far they can deploy, and that they’re looking for somebody who can (a) take care of the integration with vSphere and (b) provide support,” Fathers said. “And so basically, what we have done, I guess, is become a distributor of OpenStack, created VMware-integrated OpenStack.”

Starting small with vCloud Air

“To some extent, attracting thousands of clients wasn’t really just the objective,” Fathers explained. “The real objective is to secure hundreds of what we call ‘beachhead clients,’ which are clients that are using vCloud Air and seeing genuine value from the compatibility, on-premises and in the vCloud Air . . . and the integration we’ve done, specifically in the networking layer. Pleased to say we have not only now thousands of clients — we aren’t being more precise than that — but I can be precise in saying we have hundreds of beachhead clients.”

When asked whether the cloud business is just complementary to the legacy business, he predicted strong growth over time. “Will [the hybrid cloud] become a multi-billion-dollar business?” he said. “Yeah, probably. I suspect it will.”

The VMware hybrid cloud, in a diagram.

The VMware hybrid cloud, in a diagram.

VMware’s hybrid cloud is about VMware’s hybrid cloud

“I am not spending a second working out how you solve what I think is an unsolvable problem of a client who’s marooned an application in AWS and is desperately trying to get it connected securely back to an on-premises app,” Fathers said.

Partnering with Google is about giving clients the best technology

“We just felt like the Google BigQuery service, coupled with their NoSQL database and the object storage, you’re not going to beat it,” Fathers said. “I mean, it’s space-age. There’s no way you’re going to compete with that.”

And what of all the database and analytics technology VMware and [company]EMC[/company] offloaded as part of their Pivotal spinoff a couple years ago? “I personally haven’t yet parsed how you’d segment the analytic capabilities that Pivotal will offer versus using something like BigQuery,” he said. “My sense is that BigQuery is sort of a space-age, enormously capable service, but you need to conform to its APIs, whereas the Pivotal world I think is far more scoped into customization and you can create your own analytics.” (On a related note, some of those Pivotal services might soon be getting a forced open source facelift.)

Bill Fathers VMware Structure 2014

Bill Fathers at Structure 2014

“Either way,” he added, “both are probably cheaper, candidly, than buying Exadata or HANA.” Exadata is Oracle’s converged server-database-combo and HANA is SAP’s in-memory database that is now the focal point of its next-gen business applications.

Asked whether there might be a way to expand the new relationship with [company]Google[/company] beyond BigQuery and some select services, Fathers said they’re taking it slowly. But … “This could do a long way,” he noted. “They have very complementary offerings, as opposed to competitive, and they actually target an entirely different client base, as well.”

Network integration: A big challenge that “sends clients to sleep”

“If there’s one thing we’ve found [that’s critical to delivering hybrid clouds for clients] . . .it’s the network integration,” Fathers explained. “It’s the biggest problem clients got and they don’t yet know it, and it’s kind of tough to pitch it because they’re not yet aware that the integration challenges of trying to connect your LAN to a public cloud are way harder than people realize. We’re going to have to find a better way of marketing it, basically.”

2 Comments

ewalsh5

What VMWare might be effectively trying is to close the IT product delivery gap and time to market using an Open Hybrid Cloud Architecture – (an excellent whitepaper resource on the same here: bit.ly/1F5Ubnu – commenting on behalf of IDG and Red Hat

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