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VMware vRealize management suite for hybrid clouds


Article from ADMIN 60/2020
VMware positions its vRealize management suite to make hybrid cloud/on-premises setups palatable to customers.

VMware has provided classic on-premises datacenter solutions with solid performance and support through ESXi, vSphere, and vCenter. With the rise of public clouds, to keep up with the times, VMware added products such as VMware NSX, an Open vSwitch extension, and the OpenStack compatibility layer.

About a decade ago, VMware also added a whole suite of tools under the vRealize label that enables the operation of hybrid workloads in public clouds and private virtualization environments. Since its debut, vRealize Suite [1] has matured, and version 8.1 was released in 2019. In this article, I discuss the components of vRealize and question their usefulness for you in everyday life.

VMware Before the Cloud

VMware has been making a name for itself in IT for decades as a provider of comprehensive virtualization solutions. Although VMware products often come with lavish price tags, the vendor delivers solid products for the cost. Anyone who has ever worked with ESXi and vSphere or vCenter knows that a well-designed interface provides the most frequently used functions in the context of classic virtualization, such as migrating a system from one host to another.

VMware is in complete command of these actions: live migration, high availability, and fully automated failover when a server goes down. None of these tasks present a major hurdle for VMware. Reliability is one of the reasons many administrators hardly bother looking at products by other vendors during their entire IT career. True to the saying, "Nobody ever got fired for buying VMware," you buy what you know and are happy that it works.

Then Came the Cloud

Anyone working in the IT environment today has experienced one of the biggest upheavals the industry has ever seen: the shift from small, local setups to large public clouds.

Admins and controllers have long since come to realize that operating their own IT infrastructure is expensive. It ties up personnel, by far the most expensive resource of all, but it also ties up money in the form of hardware and infrastructure costs for cooling, electricity (including emergency power generators), and other components.

In short, the idea of throwing away your own hardware and outsourcing the associated overhead to a large provider such as Amazon or Microsoft is meeting with enthusiasm in many companies. This business is also worthwhile for the providers. Because Amazon Web Services (AWS) and its partners have optimized all internal processes for the operation of such setups, they can offer this service particularly efficiently. Rumor has it that Amazon makes 97 cents in profit on every dollar in sales.

Customers are flocking to the providers in droves, despite the sometimes hefty prices, which shows how deep the sting of the costs of IT infrastructure operation is in the flesh of many companies.

Danger for VMware?

VMware is naturally not comfortable with this development, because it jeopardizes the company's traditional business model. If you no longer operate your own IT infrastructure, you no longer need on-site virtualization but rely instead on functions offered by cloud providers.

Many companies even leverage the fact that clouds do not offer virtualization with failover and all the other classic fuss as an opportunity to ditch old habits. When switching to the public cloud, the application per se is also put to the test. If benefits are to be gained from partial or complete porting of components to the cloud, you take this path rather than continuing to deal with operations yourself.

VMware therefore began some time ago to adopt a multi-pronged tactic in view of the threat of loss of importance. On the one hand, the company now has several technologies in its portfolio that extend typical virtualization with VMware to the cloud. Specifically, VMware NSX; an Open vSwitch extension that has matured into a comprehensive, highly complex solution for software-defined networking (SDN); and VMware's OpenStack compatibility layer, which allows vCenter environments to be controlled on the basis of OpenStack APIs.

VMware is clearly looking to capture revenue from those customers who don't see themselves as customers of AWS or Azure, but as their competitors – either private or public clouds. After all, there are more than enough end customers who are not allowed to store their data on AWS or Azure servers for legal reasons or because of their own compliance regulations. VMware is helping potential platform vendors who have these same customers with its own cloud portfolio.

The number of companies that see themselves as platform operators is likely to be small, however: The usual level of turnover cannot be maintained with these companies. VMware is therefore also approaching customers directly who want to use services such as AWS or Azure to some extent but still want to operate their own infrastructure in parallel (e.g., for critical data).

The VMware solution to this problem is vRealize, which enables the operation of private, hybrid, and multicloud environments. Of course, the VMware infrastructure is at the heart of this; the solution is primarily aimed at customers who already run VMware in their datacenters. The solution also results in a migration path: If a company wants to reduce its own infrastructure, VMware vRealize will be the tool to help it do so.

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