VMware Bets On Legacy Cloud
VMware’s position is now as a legacy IT provider, but that’s not a bad thing per se.
Consider this: most IT workloads are not in a cloud of any variety. Many important IT systems have already been written, and completely rebuilding them for a new cloudy world isn’t going to happen over night, or possibly ever. Writing code means writing bugs, and a nicely debugged system that fulfills a business need doesn’t need changing.
VMware’s announcement that you can now—well, soon—essentially bridge your own on-site infrastructure with hosted gear and cloud-hosted VMs using the same tools and techniques that you’ve been using for over a decade. Organisations have made a lot of investments in existing systems and throwing them away because cloud is the new hotness doesn’t make business sense.
However, and this is a big however, the benefits of cloud are not about where things are hosted. The major value of the public cloud approach is in the processes used to manage IT. It’s about a lot more than just the infrastructure.
If you go all in with VMware’s vision, and shell out the major cash bundle for the full set of vSphere, VSAN, and NSX so your vAdmins can continue pointing and clicking their way around vCenter to provision infrastructure, that’s not a private cloud. Not in my book, anyway. And yet there are plenty of customers that I talk to that believe that’s exactly what they have.
If you have to raise a ticket with the helpdesk to get a new VM, you don’t have a cloud, private or otherwise.
The most eye-opening part of the opening keynote to me (and I’m not alone in thinking this) is that IBM was wheeled out as the anchor tenant for this new hybrid-multi-cloud vision that VMware unveiled. That, to me, made it very clear that in VMware’s view of the future, cloud means doing things the old way with new tools.
And let’s be clear: there’s plenty of money to be made in that approach. There are plenty of companies who are loathe to give up the cold comfort of ITIL and bureaucracy because continuous integration and self-service is just so very hard for them to grok. And every time one of those companies delays updating its processes to embrace the DevOps automation, VMware makes another sale.
Meanwhile, it can work away on improving the complexities of vRealize Orchestration and its own suite of manageware until it can eventually compete with the fancy new tools the DevOps folks are churning out at a feverish pace. If VMware can just keep people paying for the existing way of doing things long enough, maybe its customers won’t have to throw away all the systems they’ve built up over the years to try out the scary new approach.
Maybe VMware can embrace the parts it likes—Docker containers in VMs, for example—while it extends itself into the various true clouds until it becomes more than a single cloud, but the way to run multi-cloud itself.
This is a big bet, and we’re only just at the very beginning of the journey. It’ll be a fascinating ride.
I received a press pass to VMworld, but paid for my own flights. My accommodation is courtesy of GestaltIT/Tech Field Day.
This article first appeared in Forbes.com here.