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Trio of new VMware vCHS features revealed

VMware intends to disclose availability of three major services for vCHS next month -- welcome additions for VMware cloud customers. But industry watchers say the company needs to add much more to compete against AWS, Google and Microsoft.

VMware next month is expected to disclose a trio of new features for its vCloud Hybrid Service focused on managing massive data sets.

VMware intends to offer object storage, database as a service (DBaaS) and auto-scaling as part of its vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS), according to a session summary for the VMworld 2014 conference in late August. Sources familiar with the company confirmed the impending additions and said to expect more in the months ahead.

These would all be welcome improvements, according to vCHS customer Shawn Wiora, CIO of Creative Solutions in Healthcare based in Fort Worth, Texas.

"We are constantly lifting up databases…that ability to do capacity planning on a consistent basis is more and more challenging for us," Wiora said. "These capabilities are exactly what we've been looking for if it's something that would be available."

Based on conversations with the company, Wiora believes this will be the first of many database services offered through vCHS  that will eventually lead to database optimization.

"I see them positioning the company for some really attractive services in the future," Wiora said.

VMware vCHS object storage will provide a scalable and cost effective way to store and manipulate large amounts of unstructured data, according to the VMworld session description.  The session also includes lessons on how to bring databases into vCHS and how to manage the DBaaS offering, as well as "how to create a truly elastic public cloud by automatically managing user-set end-to-end application Service-Level Objective (SLO), with vCHS auto-scaling solution."

A VMware spokesperson declined to comment beyond saying that some of these issues would be covered at VMworld.

This follows an online forum in May where a team of VMware officials said the company would offer pay-per-use pricing. That change has not become available either.

Are new VMware cloud features enough?

The additional features are necessary for VMware's cloud service, which is "missing a ton of features," according to Lydia Leong, an analyst with Stamford, Connecticut-based Gartner, Inc.

"It's closer to being outsourced virtualization than conceptually what people think of the cloud as," Leong said. "It's not a cloud really targeted at developer enablement. Predominantly, it's for operations administrators who are already comfortable with VMware."

The vCHS became generally available in September 2013. The product was listed among the niche players in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) report issued in May.

These new services are the minimum VMware must offer to compete in the market, while it decides which direction it wants to go in, Leong said. It can either continue to offer the classic IT model of safety, accuracy, predictability and efficiency, or it can take the newer approach that emphasizes agility and flexibility.

"The market leaders are going to end up doing both, but VMware is at the start of this game and they don't have the breadth of capabilities to do both," Leong said.

I haven't seen anything from them that leads me to believe they'll develop next generation technology that's going to kill of the bigger momentum of the other players in the space
David Linthicumconsultant, Cloud Technology Partners

The traditional model alone is becoming harder to sell and it puts the company in direct competition with its own provider channel, Leong said. And IaaS is associated more with the more agile models that offer greater market opportunity but have created a crowded landscape led by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google's cloud.

Adding object storage, DBaaS and auto-scaling would show VMware doesn't want to alienate its existing on-premises customers, a potential hindrance in moving to the public cloud, according to David Linthicum, senior vice president with Cloud Technology Partners, a Boston-based consulting firm.

"They're trying not to confuse their bas, but when I see these things coming out from them, it's hard to understand the strategy," Linthicum said.

The moves are probably ones VMware needed to make, but its relevance in the cloud market remains in question, Linthicum said. Not many customers want to isolate public and private clouds with one provider; they want to use multiple clouds.

VMware certainly has a history of innovation and the support of the enterprise market, but the important innovations in the next five years will instead be in the public cloud space, Linthicum said.

"I haven't seen anything from them that leads me to believe they'll develop next generation technology that's going to kill off the bigger momentum of the other players in the space," Linthicum said.

The hindrances of its existing customer base coupled with the fact that if VMware does too much in the public cloud it runs the risk of cannibalizing those same users only compounds the problem.

"They're stuck between a rock and a hard place," Linthicum said. "If I were their consultant I would have no easy answer for them."

And while observers question the company's place in the market, customers like Wiora say moving to vCHS makes the most sense for people already using VMware.

"I might be able to roll the dice and save 8 to 12% using AWS, but is it worth the risk when things start going sideways and its 2 a.m. and you need someone who knows VMware terminology?" Wiora said. "Is that where you want to grab your 12% of savings?"

Trevor Jones is the news writer for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at [email protected].

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