While VMware, which will stage its annual VMworld conference later this month in San Francisco, has been providing software for use in and around the private cloud for years, the company has been in the public cloud provisioning business for only 12 months.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company's problem, however, is this: How does it differentiate itself from all those competitors in the sector, such as Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Oracle?
"Looking at the adoption of public cloud over the last five years, there's no question that it's kind of reached a bit of a sticking point," Bill Fathers, VMWare's SVP of Hybrid Cloud solutions, told eWEEK. "The current model isn't going to continue to scale. And as we know, this is the next phase of the adoption of the enterprise public cloud. As a result, we're going to continue to double down and pile on services that will help us differentiate in the area of compatibility.
"We want to differentiate ourselves with our public cloud by saying to our customers and potential customers: 'Look, we think the compatibility with your existing environments is THE key.' In the last year, we've proven that to ourselves (internally)."
Applications Need to Be on Same Page
To the IT administrator, incompatibility issues often can be handled manually with workarounds, although that type of integration work is tedious and not very productive. To the application, however, it's not clear which environments they can work in and which they cannot. That's when problems begin.
"It's like an airline running 500 different kinds of aircraft: You need different certified crews for different aircraft, you have different routes, etc.," Fathers said. "The management implications of trying to run your environments both on premises and in multiple heterogeneous public clouds are spiraling up in complexity all the time. But the key thing is the economics; if you've got a problem where your different cloud platforms are not compatible with your on-premises environments, you'll never reach the economics.
"All you will do is drain the swamp on your existing environment, which will become a liability very quickly, and you cannot take the fixed costs out of that. And however much your public clouds are costing you, the net-net is that you're going to go up in total cost," Fathers said.
Fathers believes that at the heart of the continued scale out of the public cloud is the need to get applications developed and into the market quicker than they have been.
"What's happened is the development side of the house has built up a ferocious appetite for more and more capacity quickly," Fathers said. "Agility has driven the consumption of multiple public cloud offerings. Companies end up inheriting multiple heterogeneous public cloud environments. The core sticking problem is that you end up with lots of silos of capacity."
Compatibility Affects Economics Big Time
Once enterprises start building public cloud systems that are compatible from an application perspective, "you're going to see a re-acceleration" of business in the sector, Fathers said.
Now that VMware has determined what "true north" is in terms of differentiation—and it's all around compatibility—users can expect to see VMware launch more and more services over the coming months.
To solve the silo and management problems, VMware launched its vCloud Hybrid Service in September 2013. Fathers said "our scale out is progressing at an aggressive rate. VMware now operates vCloud hybrid service in North America (six sites in the U.S.), Europe (in the UK) and now Asia to meet the needs of both our regional and global clients. By the end of 2014 a VMware cloud will be available in over 75 percent of the world’s cloud market, through both VMware-operated services and our global network of over 12,000 VMware-based cloud service providers."
VMware has continued to add new hybrid capabilities and service offerings, such as Desktop as a Service, Disaster Recovery as a Service and support for Cloud Foundry.
DRaaS Now a Hit for VMware
"Disaster Recovery as a Service is a simple use case for IT buyers to buy, but it is complicated to take off. It is fast becoming VMware's fastest-growing product globally," Fathers said. "It's all about one existing client saying, 'Back up this number of VMs to the cloud service,' and it's done fairly straightforwardly. Users only pay $800 per month no matter how much capacity you use."
VMware will be rolling out more news at VMworld, set for Aug. 24 through 28 in San Francisco. For more information on VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service, visit vCloud.VMware.com.