This content is part of the Conference Coverage: Dell Technologies World 2019 news and analysis

VMware Cloud on Dell EMC bridges on-premises infrastructure

VMware's new cloud service enables corporate users to deploy and manage on-premises environments in both their core data centers and edge locations.

VMware today debuted a cloud service that provides corporate users with on- demand infrastructure and management software they can deploy in their core data centers and edge locations, providing control of all their on-premises systems.

The VMware Cloud on Dell EMC, built on the company's Project Dimension unveiled last year, offers compute, storage, networking and cloud management capabilities as a service. The intent of the technology is to give corporate users more flexibility in where they can deploy workloads.

"As businesses expand their data centers to public and hybrid clouds and edge locations, they face new challenges in managing different types of infrastructure, as well as developing new skill sets and tooling," said Kit Colbert, vice president and CTO of VMware's cloud platform business unit. "We are looking to offer them greater flexibility in a multi-cloud environment."

Colbert described the new service as a merge of its VMware Cloud on AWS and the VMware Cloud Foundation on top of VxRail product. He noted the services take advantage of the cloud services delivery model of VMware Cloud on AWS, which represents a new on-premises delivery model for its users.

While the new offering feeds into the company's stance that hybrid clouds are the future, the role of existing on-premises infrastructure is not to be undervalued, Colbert said. The VMware Cloud on Dell EMC aims to surface up that value.

"There's still a need for on-premises infrastructure around things like data sovereignty and regulatory reasons for keeping data physically within certain geographies," Colbert said. "With the rise of IoT, there is still a ton of data being produced that needs to be processed locally before sending it to the cloud."

Cloud-down services expand

The new VMware cloud platform is the latest among a number of products designed to tie on-premises and various cloud environments closer together. Notable competitors include Microsoft's Azure Stack, Google Cloud and AWS Outposts, the latter due out later this year.

Gary Chen, IDC research directorGary Chen

"Right now the trend is delivering local clouds to on-premises environments," said Gary Chen, IDC's research director of software-defined compute. "Public cloud companies like Microsoft and AWS are coming from the outside in, installing their offerings in users' data centers. VMware is coming from the inside out where they are already in users' data centers delivering clouds as a service."

Chen sees the new offering as a wise move for VMware because it gives users another deployment model for VMware products, including its VMware Cloud on AWS offering for public clouds along with a handful of other cloud partner deals.

"On top of that, they will have VMware Cloud on other partner hardware later this year," Chen said. "Dell EMC is just the first instantiation."

Cloud coopetition heats up

VMware Cloud for Dell EMC, which enters beta next week and is expected to be a finished product available later this year, figures to liven up the coopetition among the top-tier cloud providers, in particular VMware and AWS. Late last year, AWS announced two different versions of Outposts: one containing only AWS software, and the other with VMware Cloud on AWS.

Companies like Microsoft and AWS are coming from the outside in, installing their offerings in users' data centers. VMware is coming from the inside out where they are already in users' data centers delivering clouds as a service.
Gary ChenAnalyst, IDC

Analysts do not expect a civil war to erupt between VMware and AWS over their competitive offerings. But like any coopetition, it will be a delicate balance to best position each other's offering against the other without stepping on their partner's toes.

"They will be in a complex dance to get their respective customer's compute, storage and networking needs met," said Ezra Gottheil, principal analyst at Technology Business Research Inc. "I think VMware has the inside track with their abstraction of the cloud over AWS' because VMware's abstraction doesn't lock you into just one cloud provider."

VMware's Colbert downplays the competitive aspect of the coopetition, saying the companies' overlapping products is not an obstacle but an opportunity to sell his company's products to potentially new customers.

"I look at this as a set of tradeoffs," Colbert said. "AWS will offer certain features and we will offer others. It will be up to the users as to what they prefer given their individual situation. There is value in [VMware's] SDDC stack and we want users to take advantage of that with any infrastructure they may have," he said.

What's in VMware Cloud on Dell EMC

VMware Cloud on Dell EMC features the company's compute, storage and networking products including vSphere, vSAN and NSX running on Dell's line of server hardware, which is managed by VMware.

The offering's management software lets IT administrators monitor the state of server racks, tracking the steps engineers take to resolve technical issues. It can also automatically patch and upgrade on-premises systems end to end, the company said.

The subscription-based service supports containers and Kubernetes along with linking to services offered by cloud providers, while maintaining their applications on VMware's infrastructure. Users will be responsible for their own data, which remains on premises at their respective core data centers or edge locations, the company said.

Security for VMware Cloud on Dell EMC is supplied via the microsegmentation capabilities of VMware's NSX offering for both legacy and more modern applications, with encryption features protecting data both at rest and in-transit, the company added.

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