VMware Integrates Everything

Cloud2

By: R. Scott Raynovich

SAN FRANCISCO --  VMworld 2019 -- Public cloud, multi-cloud, and private cloud are becoming one, according to VMware. And guess who wants to manage it all?

The big theme here at the software company's eponymous conference is that this convergence of clouds is guiding the company's drive to integrate a wide range of virtualized services that can be connected end-to-end, and moved among various clouds. VMware sees itself as new cloud management platform for everything ranging from virtual machines, container-based microservices, cloud networking, and security. 

Integrating Acquisitions

The route to do that is reflected in VMware's growing acquisition strategy -- including last week's announcement that it is buying container application development company Pivotal and endpoint security firm Carbon Black. VMware says these deals will help drive the mission of building, deploying, and managing applications across a virtual infrastructure. VMware has now spent several billions of dollars over the last few years on acquisitions to build up its end-to-end, multi-cloud story. 

Where does the integration occur? Everywhere. For example, VMware executives said the company will use Carbon Black's artificial intelligence (AI) technology to build "intrinsic" security into its cloud and network services, not just endpoints. Its SD-WAN platform VeloCloud, which it bought in 2017, has been integrated into its network virtualization product NSX, and VeloCloud appliances now come pre-packaged in the VMware Cloud on Dell cloud infrastructure bundle. VMware executives gave demonstrations about how last year's acquisition of Cloud Health now gives customers insight about cloud performance on VMware-hosted infrastructure. 

Container Story

VMware is ramping up its container and microservices story -- once thought to be a potential achilles heel because containers can be an alternative to virtual machines (VM) for running workloads in the cloud. Using Pivotal and Bitnami, another acquisition, VMware intends to be one of the key providers of container-based applications development and management tools. VMware calls this strategy "Tanzu." As part of this plan, it announced Project Pacific, which is integration of Kubernetes container management technology into VMware's vSphere. 

"The first thing we are going to focus on build and run," said Ray O'Farrell, who until Tuesday was VMware's CTO before it was announced at the show that he would be stepping into a role taking the lead on cloud-native development (Greg Lavendar, formerly SVP & CTO of Cloud Architecture in the Office of the CTO, is now VMware's CTO). "Building these applications more and more is about building cloud-native applications. They are often built on open source and building cloud services.”

VMware holds a solid strategic position -- arguably one of the best among the large technology infrastructure vendors -- as enterprises look to build cloud applications with portability among multiple types of clouds. Its main advantage is being a pure software company with a cloud heritage. Hardware rivals such as Cisco and HPE are bogged down in process of moving their business model from selling hardware boxes to software. IBM has made a key large acquisition in Red Hat, which poses the most viable threat to VMware in cloud management, but IBM must disprove critics of its mixed track record in integrating large acquisitions. VMware has a history of doing this well -- one of the prove points being the growing success of its NSX virtual networking product, which came to the company from its $1.26 billion acquisition of Nicira in 2012. 

It's now clear what VMware wants to do. It would like to build a common cloud framework that can be used by its customers to manage applications and workloads across a wide variety of clouds, using VMware tools to do so. Clearly, the company hopes this will become a "sticky framework" that keeps its users on VMware, whether it's in a public cloud with VMware Cloud or a private cloud built with VMware tools, or across clouds and microservices using Pivtoal or Bitnami. The next year will be pivotal (pun intended) to proving this out.