VMware’s vCloud Suite promotion is a brilliant move in the chess game of market share. It puts the foundational products for VMware’s cloud strategy into hundreds of thousands of customer environments while offering both a vision and tangible path for transformation to software-defined datacenters.
The Complexity of Selling Cloud
It is not uncommon for industry manufacturers to position themselves as cloud players simply through rebranding. The technical term is “cloudwashing”. My #3 favorite cloudwashing example is Oracle’s Exalogic Elastic Cloud. My #2 favorite is the renaming of HP’s BladeSystem Matrix to CloudSystem Matrix. My all-time favorite is the rebranding of Wyse’s thin clients as “cloud clients”.
The plethora of marketing misinformation contributes to a widespread lack of understanding of the transformational capabilities of cloud computing. VMware needed to differentiate its offering while providing both a complete and tangible product-based solution.
VMware’s answer was the vCloud Suite which bundles products representing the entire set of cloud infrastructure capabilities, but at a lower cost than the assembled piece parts – and priced strictly per processor rather than per VM. The suite comes in three versions: Standard, Advanced and Enterprise.
Until December 15th, every customer with vSphere Enterprise Plus receives a free upgrade to vCloud Suite Standard, while every vSphere Enterprise customer can purchase the upgrade at a 71% discount. vCloud Suite Standard includes vSphere Enterprise Plus, vCloud Director and vCloud Networking and Security.
The vCloud Suite promotion may not necessarily imbue customers with the vision for the business benefits private cloud enables, but it will prompt them to learn about its IT-specific efficiencies. For example, administrators can manage far more virtual machines, and downtime resulting from server failure decreases from five minutes to around a minute. Automating approval and other processes slashes VM provisioning times from an average of five days to minutes.
The Software Defined Datacenter
VMware differentiates its approach to cloud computing by emphasizing the software-defined datacenter (SDDC). A Virtual Data Center (VDC) is a construct of vCloud Director that represents an entire data center. And just as a physical server can host multiple virtual machines, a SDDC can host multiple VDCs.
The SDDC defines an application along with all of the resources it needs and enables control of the data center entirely driven by software. In practical terms, the SDDC automatically maps a virtual machine to the appropriate resources such as storage, network, firewall, intrusion detection, load-balancers, availability, backup, DR, compliancy, etc.
The vCloud Suite enables the SDDC. VMware vSphere provides software-defined compute and memory. It combines with Site Recovery Manager to enable software-defined storage and availability. VMware vCloud Networking and Security (vCNS) provides, of course, software-defined networking and security.
VMware vCloud Director enables secure multi-tenancy as well as placement and load balancing of software-defined datacenter services. VMware vCenter Operations provides automated cloud operations management. VMware vFabric Application Director (now AppD) enables automated applications provisioning and vCenter Chargeback provides metered chargeback reporting and accountability.
VMware vCloud Connector is a free download enabling application migration between clouds while vCenter Orchestrator, included with VMware vCenter Server, enables orchestration with third-party systems.
Although vCloud Suite only debuted at VMworld San Francisco in late August, VMware already announced significant management enhancements at VMworld Europe this week including “multi-cloud infrastructure provisioning” and “IT benchmarking”. Especially noteworthy is the inclusion of vCloud Automation Center (vCAC) which is based on DynamicOps. It will be interesting to see how VMware handles the overlap of vCACcapabilities such as catalog and chargeback with those of vCloud Director.
While I haven’t heard anything regarding End User Computing and vCloud Suite, I would like to see integration there as well. Organizations should be able to automate and meter the provisioning of virtual desktops utilizing the same tool sets as they do for virtual servers.
Those of us who sold ESX in the early days of virtualization spent a lot of time educating clients about the concept. But as the overwhelming economic advantages of virtualization quickly became well-known, the sale regressed into one of fulfillment rather than evangelism for many partners. Cloud computing is at a stage where the sale again is very conceptual in nature.
Many cloud vendors emphasize automation and provisioning, but they really mean scripting. The rapid proliferation of vCloud Suite Standard in data centers across the globe will spur conversations about the policy-driven architecture and advantages of a SDDC. As customers increasingly understand the benefits, they will take advantage of the easy upgrade path to the more complete Advanced and Enterprise versions. This should help VMware leverage its dominance in virtualization to establish a similar position in cloud computing.
VMware Fills Gap in Cloud Management with vCloud Suite. 10/10/2012. Chris Preimesberger. eWeek.
The Cloud Backlash Could be Deep. 10/06/2012. Mark Thiele. Gigamon.
VMware Showcasing vCloud Director in New Cloud Bundle. 09/11/2012. Kevin McLaughlin. CRN.
Managing the Software-Defined Datacenter. 08/27/2012. Kit Colbert. VMware Office of the CTO.