VMware Says It's Ready to Build Hybrid Clouds for Enterprises

NEWS ANALYSIS: VMware tried to convince customers at VMworld that it has all the software and hardware necessary to build hybrid clouds. But is it really that close to achieving that goal?

VMware Hybrid Cloud 2

SAN FRANCISCO—In a reverse of the ubiquitous safety warning, "objects in mirror are closer than they appear," hybrid cloud computing, the talk of VMworld 2015, is still farther away than it appears.

VMware made several product announcements here this week that seemed to put hybrid cloud computing within reach for most enterprises. This is an idea that users can extend and link their enterprise with private clouds, public clouds and software-as-a-service clouds and manage it all as one computing infrastructure.

Those products include VMware's new EVO SDDC for software-defined data center implementations and upgrades to key components of the VMware software stack, including NSX 6.2 networking and VSAN 6.1 storage, to create hyperscale private, public and hybrid clouds—and everything in between.

But debate still rages over what hybrid cloud computing really means and if today's example of hybrid cloud computing is something enterprise users want or need.

"The unified hybrid cloud is about enabling a global point of view across multiple clouds," VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said in his keynote speech. "A single cloud across many instances ... the unified hybrid cloud is the future."

Cut to the IDC's analyst briefing a day later, and the future looks a lot different. "At the infrastructure level, there is no such thing as a hybrid cloud," said Rick Villars, vice president for data center and cloud for IDC. "Hybrid is a way [for suppliers] to position themselves to support customers in their transition [to cloud computing]."

In other words, hybrid cloud is still pure marketing spin. A nicer way to put it is that hybrid—if that is indeed something enterprises want—is still in its formative stage and that the true vision is still a work in progress.

Villars cited conversations with customers who say that hybrid remains a huge challenge in the enterprise. "Hybrid cloud is an excellent description for the environment we find ourselves in because of how we have done cloud over the past few years," said Villars, quoting a customer. "But it's a terrible description of the strategy we'd like to adopt and use cloud better going forward."

Delving further into Villars' analysis, however, it does seem that, indeed, VMware is almost there and certainly presents more than just a vision. What customers want, he said, is a common set of resources for managing multiple clouds.

VMware—Check. The company has the potential to do that for most cloud environments, including but not limited to vCloud Air and OpenStack implementations. Users also want consistent information about performance, use of assets and energy consumption, he said. VMware—Double check.

But as is so often the case with enterprise IT, it's not so much about the technology as it is about the people, processes and culture of an organization along with IT's fundamental mission to solve specific business problems.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...