The VMware CloudHealth acquisition provides additional multi-cloud management functions for IT administrators who oversee complex VMware environments.
Companies increasingly opt to run multiple cloud applications, but managing them is a challenge because such applications store information in silos. VMware is currently extending its cloud management capabilities to present information in a consistent, integrated fashion.
The cloud is the de facto foundation for business applications, so many corporations find themselves with multiple cloud platforms. A Forrester Research survey found that 91% of businesses use two or more public cloud services and 19% percent have between six and nine.
Organizations need help managing these systems. Companies often run public cloud platforms in silos, which means they lack centralized control. In August 2018, VMware paid about $500 million to acquire CloudHealth, which helps companies centrally manage Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Google services.
Reining in cloud costs
Initially, CloudHealth focused on tracking and optimizing cloud computing costs.
"Often, when companies move to the public cloud, they spend more on the services than they anticipate," said Marco Alcala, CEO at Alcala Consulting. Consequently, these companies are also usually interested in tools that can help them reduce waste.
Managing cloud costs is challenging for many reasons. The cloud offers companies the ability to allocate computing resources faster than they could in the past; developers sometimes move quickly but inefficiently.
"A developer may create 20 new instances of an application and leave them running for weeks, so when the bill comes, the CFO has a heart attack," said Marco Meinardi, research director of IT operations and cloud at Gartner.
The quick evolution of cloud services and pricing is creating another problem: Vendors offer tens of thousands of configuration options, so determining which is best for an application is challenging. VMware CloudHealth offers customers the ability to track the top options from key suppliers, Meinardi said.
Managing cloud resources involves more than just cost accounting. Businesses also want to allocate resources more easily and migrate applications across platforms. In addition, they must monitor the performance of cloud resources.
In response, VMware is building out its cloud management line -- the VMware CloudHealth acquisition was just the beginning. The company offers Cloud Assembly for multi-cloud automation and orchestration, Wavefront for cross-cloud monitoring, CloudCoreo for cloud security assessments, and CloudVelox for workload mobility.
Building a new management foundation
VMware's various products and acquisitions lack consistent interfaces; they all operate autonomously. At VMworld in August, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and COO Rajiv Ramaswami announced plans to roll out an integrated suite that provides performance management, operations automation, security, compliance and cost management across the leading public cloud services, and CloudHealth is expected to provide key capabilities to the suite.
However, this plan presents some challenges. The work is complex, time-consuming and amorphous.
"Cloud management vendors do not want to try and boil the ocean," Meinardi said.
The future of vRealize -- which was geared toward on-premises management -- is also uncertain. VMware could extend it to the cloud, but the company might focus on management systems born in the cloud rather than those retrofitted to it.
Finally, competition in this area is fierce. Microsoft acquired multi-cloud cost monitoring vendor Cloudyn in July 2017. Apptio, Cloudability, Embotics, Morpheus, RightScale and Scalr also offer multi-cloud management systems.
"VMware has garnered a reputation for developing strong management solutions," Alcala said.
The VMware CloudHealth acquisition provides the vendor with a needed cost management element in a fast-emerging market.