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VMware offers new subscription for hybrid cloud deployments

An offering dubbed VMware Cloud presents a new option for customers that want to pursue hybrid cloud strategies supported by a subscription model, but it has limitations.

VMware hopes to firm up its position in the multi-cloud market and appeal to customers by aligning its Cloud Foundation and Tanzu products under the moniker of VMware Cloud and offering a new subscription model.

The company has built a new Cloud Console, which provides a single management and monitoring environment for VMware Cloud products across on-premises and cloud environments. VMware App Navigator is a new services offering that helps customers evaluate which of their legacy applications would provide the most benefit through modernization.

Finally, VMware Cloud Universal provides a subscription for customers that want to run hybrid cloud environments while adopting a pay-as-you-go model rather than buying discrete licenses outright. Tanzu Standard Edition and vRealize are among the products included in Cloud Foundation subcriptions purchased through the Cloud Universal plan.

While Cloud Foundation is supported on many public clouds a la carte, VMware Cloud Universal's availability is limited to VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, along with on-premises deployments.

With Cloud Universal, customers buy credits for VMware's multi-cloud management software and can convert any credits used on premises to the two cloud options anytime during the contract term. They're also able to convert VMware perpetual licenses to Cloud Universal credits.

VMware move reflects today's cloud reality

As more enterprises choose multi- or hybrid cloud deployments as their strategic direction, VMware may have felt compelled to make buying its software more flexible.

Gary ChenGary Chen

"This is a pretty big change in terms of how people will buy VMware products," said Gary Chen, research director of software-defined compute at IDC. "Cloud Universal works like a shared pool of credits, allowing you to buy a selected set of offerings including their strategic products like VMware Cloud on AWS or Cloud Foundation. The nice thing is if you buy, say, [Cloud Foundation] for one or three years, but you need to move some things to the cloud during that period, the remaining value gets transferred to the cloud," he said.

VMware foreshadowed this week's move in September with the launch of vRealize Cloud Universal, which allows users to apply credits to the on-premises version of the management suite interchangeably with the SaaS version.

Having options for flexibility, whether it involves on-premises or hybrid clouds, can only be good. You never know what's going to happen after this pandemic is over.
Gary ChenResearch director of software-defined compute, IDC

"As VMware begins integrating all these different cloud offerings in their portfolio, [Cloud Universal] offers customer more flexibility," Chen said. "It removes a lot of the barriers for users. Some users may not know exactly what version they will need, but this program removes some of that risk by supplying a central pool of credits."

According to recent IDC research, many corporate users have shifted to paying for infrastructure software on a consumption basis. New purchasing models will continue to pop up, however, which will largely prove to be a good thing, according to Chen -- particularly during the ongoing pandemic.

"Having options for flexibility, whether it involves on-premises or hybrid clouds, can only be good," he said. "You never know what's going to happen after this pandemic is over. Pandemics may not prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

VMware Cloud is a good start, but there is more work for the company to do, in one user's view.

"If you want to interject something that is Azure or AWS specific, things could get difficult," said Brian Kirsch, an IT architect and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College focused on virtualization. "VMware will have to abstract all of that away, but they have done that over the years with different hardware."

VMware Tanzu and VMware Cloud Foundation
VMware Tanzu and VMware Cloud Foundation

VMware Cloud Universal is available now in all English-speaking nations and regions, with other aspects of VMware Cloud arriving over the coming weeks, the company said.

An eye on users

Collectively, VMware's announcements point toward the next step in the evolution of cloud computing, which entails focusing more on the user experience.

"Over the past year, we have seen massive adoption around the cloud," said Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions LLC. "But we are now moving from speeds and feeds to what you can think of as the user experience. Competition is now heating up around combining things like cloud services, tech support to focus more on the overall experience."

Vendors are no longer delivering only cloud-based products and services focused on IT departments, Gardner added, but rather on such offerings that benefit the entire user organization.

"We are seeing [cloud developers] now currying favor, for instance, with the bean counters, hoping to make [cloud services] as easy to consume as a business service. This is the new frontier for cloud competition," he said.

Another incentive for developers to make cloud services easier to buy and consume is the number of business users still working from home or small remote offices that will still have to deal with the complexity of working in cloud environments.

"It's been a problem supporting all the people that are still left out in their homes that have to grapple with everyday issues," Gardner said. "You can't necessarily throw it back onto the IT department to handle."

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