VMware: Cloud Eliminating IT? That's 'Crazy'

Mitch Wagner
8/30/2016

LAS VEGAS -- VMworld 2016 -- While applications are moving to the cloud at breakneck speed, they still require the same values of security, reliability, manageability and compliance that enterprise apps have always demanded. And the IT people are the ones who deliver those values, VMware executives said.

With the emergence of shadow IT -- where business managers go behind IT's back to configure cloud services without IT oversight -- IT no longer has control over applications. But it's still responsible for making those apps business ready, said VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) CEO Pat Gelsinger, kicking off the VMworld conference here Monday. Users want the freedom to choose any cloud service, but IT has responsibility to be sure it's up to enterprise standards. It's like raising teenagers -- all the responsibility, but none of the control, Gelsinger said.

VMware on Monday introduced the Cross-Cloud Architecture as a means of extending familiar VMware controls and tools to public, private and hybrid clouds. (See VMware Seeks Cloud Dominance by Building Bridges.)

"Fundamentally, the Cross Cloud Architecture is about providing freedom and control," Gelsinger said. "It's like having a teenager you both love and like."

VMware executives laid out the basics of the Cross Cloud Architecture in a press conference for journalists previewing the announcement Sunday evening, but the presentation was a little confusing. Monday, the company simplified the details.

Cross Cloud Architecture comprises two main components: the VMware Cloud Foundation, for building private clouds, and Cross Cloud Services, for managing, securing and connecting workloads on public clouds.

Cloud Foundation is software that automates installation, and lifecycle management of private clouds. "Simply put, we make the private cloud easy," Gelsinger said.

Cloud Foundation is available as both on-premises software for enterprises looking to spin up private clouds in their own data center, and as a service through service provider partners. The first of those partners -- and so far the only one disclosed -- is IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM), announced Monday. Telcos, cable companies, managed service providers and other traditional service providers will be able to get in on the action too, but VMware isn't providing details on how that will work.

Marriott International is working with IBM on cloud deployments using Cloud Foundation as a service. Alan Rosa, SVP infrastructure and applications delivery for the hospitality chain, took the stage at the conference keynote to describe how the company is using the service. "Cloud Foundation provides the ability to take a piece of automation or any piece of technology, develop it one time and extend it to the public and private cloud," he said.

Marriott is developing hotels all over the world, including India, Africa, China and the US, all with very different needs. "Our ability to take a base set of capabilities and burst it and make it more geographically relevant is very important to us," Rosa said. Marriott works with cloud partners to make applications available locally.

The second major component of Cross Cloud Architecture is Cross Cloud Services, which manage and secure services running in both private and public clouds, including Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Azure and Amazon Web Services Inc. Later, Cross Cloud Services will support VMware's own vSphere, Google and more to come. "Our goal is to support as many clouds as we can," said Guido Appenzeller, VMware chief technology strategy officer of the network and security business unit. (See VMware Hires Top Execs From Cisco, Big Switch.)

Cross Cloud services is available as a technology preview; VMware isn't announcing when it will be available in production.

So where do we get to the part where IT gets to keep its jobs?

The "narrative in the press" is that all IT will go to the public cloud, eliminating the need for IT departments, Appenzeller said. (Editor's Note: It's not just the "narrative in the press." It's also Amazon's strategy. See AWS CEO: Enterprise Data Center Is Doomed.)

But Appenzeller has a different perspective.

"The idea that IT is unnecessary is completely crazy," he said. Enterprises moving apps from on-premises to the cloud still need security, compliance, cost control, cross-cloud management and legacy support. "Even in the age of mega-clouds, you still need IT," Appenzeller said.

Motti Finkelstein, CTO of Citibank , agreed. He took the stage at the conference general session to describe how the company uses a multi-cloud hybrid strategy to satisfy demand bursts while providing resiliency, security and reliability.

The typical business has eight cloud partners, creating a real need for Cross Cloud Services to manage them all, and enterprises prefer multiple cloud vendors to eliminate lock-in, provide geographic support and take advantage of performance differences, Appenzeller said.


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When Appenzeller started working on the cloud, he assumed enterprises would ideally pick a cloud vendor and migrate everything to that one vendor. "I don't think I ever talked to an enterprise that thinks of cloud that way," he said. (Editor's Note: Guido, meet Intuit: Intuit's Not Scared of Cloud Vendor Lock-In.)

Also at VMworld, Gelsinger and Michael Dell held a joint press conference to reassure partners, customers, investors and other stakeholders that the two companies will both partner and remain independent when Dell acquires a controlling interest in VMware, by October. The two CEOs talked up the great opportunities they see in the service provider market through NFV. (See VMware & Dell CEOs See Massive NFV Opportunity.)

And that was just Monday. As I type this, the lights are dimming for the general session as Tuesday's events are about to begin.

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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Joe Stanganelli
Joe Stanganelli
8/30/2016 | 9:57:15 PM
Appenzeller: Old + New = Better
Appenzeller's position is not surprising; he has a history of insisting that the old can mesh perfectly with the new to enhance both.

Case in point: his 2012 blog post in which he said that SDN running on physical switches is better for scaled-up deployments than hypervisor-only SDN.  (link)
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