VMware’s Unified Hybrid Cloud – VMworld 2015 Recap

Unified Hybrid Cloud Platform from VMware illustration

VMworld 2015 wrapped up in San Francisco last week. As always, the show generated a slew of announcements from VMware and hundreds of VMware partners at the show.

One of VMware’s major talking points was their hybrid cloud built around the data center plus vCloud Air. Although VMware defines vCloud Air as a public cloud, it has a fraction of the scale and customers that AWS, Azure or Google do. But VMware seeks to add value to the data center-to-public cloud route in a way that the big public cloud vendors cannot, at least as yet.

VMware refers to the virtualized portions of the data center as a private cloud, which connects to vCloud Air using multiple VMware services. The result is an infrastructure where data moves freely between private, public and managed cloud tiers. IT centrally protects, secures and manages the data no matter what tier it resides.

Updates to the Unified Hybrid Cloud Platform

VMware identifies its cloud-related software and services as Unified Hybrid Cloud Platform. New features announced at VMworld 2015 include:

  • Content Sync migrates data with no downtime. Users sync content across clouds and can maintain a template library. Content Sync works by storing master information in the central repository, the Content Library. When users subscribe to items stored in the library, including templates, changes automatically reflect back to local data storage.
  • Content Sync and Cross-Cloud vMotion (no-downtime, bidirectional migration) work together to move data between the data center/private cloud and vCloud Air.
  • Disaster Recovery also saw improvements, which helps to answer IT objections to VMware admins pushing to adopt vCloud Air. Among other DR services, vCloud Air Disaster Recovery offers a flat data/VM storage fee, and only pays for compute usage once a failover VM kicks in. VMware Site Recovery Manager Air is a new SaaS-based DR automation tool.
  • Workload management also saw improvements with Hybrid Cloud Manager’s single web console. Console actions are real-time.
  • vCloud Air now supports object storage from EMC ViPR and Google Cloud Platform. VMware also Microsoft SQL Server support on the vCloud Air roadmap.
  • VMware also pressed its NSX into service to add more flexibility to vCloud Air. Features now include dynamic routing, better scaling and VPNs.

Looking Forward

The public cloud vendors are not sitting on their hands. Microsoft for example has both popular hypervisor Hyper-V and Azure. VMware’s connection architecture is more advanced than MS’s but MS is working hard on coming up from behind. Google and AWS are also both attempting to better integrate into the data center.

The updated cloud platform does not exist in a vacuum but is part and parcel of VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) initiative, including EVO SDDC, the VMware software stack and new entries like the Photon Platform for native cloud applications. However, IT and VMware admins do not need to wait for massive VMware installations to use the hybrid cloud. They can deploy VMware’s cloud offering now and scale it at will. Many, perhaps most companies will also use public clouds for other purposes such as backup and archives. But for VMware users, virtualized workloads and VM management make vCloud Air is a strong choice.