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VMware multi-cloud management shows room for improvement

Multi-cloud management is on the rise as companies modify services to accommodate changing cloud platforms. VMware is emerging in the cloud management market with its vRealize Suite.

After a slow start, VMware is making up ground in the multi-cloud management market. Acquisitions have helped to close the gap between VMware and its competitors -- such as DXC Technology and Oracle -- and given the company a spot as one of the top providers of multi-cloud management services.

"When cloud management first emerged, VMware lacked a coherent strategy," said Roy Illsley, analyst at market research company Ovum, part of the business intelligence division of Informa, based in London.

With its initial appearance into the multi-cloud management market with its vRealize Suite, VMware sought to provide management software to organizations that would satisfy all of their public and private cloud needs, such as resource provisioning and configuration, system log data monitoring and cost tracking.

But at its conception, the vRealize Suite only provided support for VMware's cloud environments, which needed to run on vCloud. If organizations relied on alternative cloud environments -- such as Amazon's AWS -- to store their data, then the vRealize Suite was not an available option to them.

VMware made dramatic changes to its vRealize suite to extend support to other cloud computing platforms. The vendor also revised several of its tools to increase cloud management capabilities, such as updating the Wavefront service and introducing Code Stream to increase software troubleshooting.

"With multi-cloud management, corporations have long lists of tools that support different types of systems, and they all need to be integrated in a cohesive fashion," said Stephen Elliot, program vice president at IDC, based in Framingham, Mass.

Private cloud remains popular

VMware has addressed certain pieces of this large, complex multi-cloud puzzle -- such as private and hybrid cloud management -- but has not focused on the public cloud. Private cloud supports 80% of business workloads, according to Elliot.

To increase its ability to successfully deliver its public cloud management capabilities, VMware must sync its management tools up with leading public cloud services.

VMware used its vRealize suite to write a compelling private cloud management story. The vendor attained the highest score -- 8.54 out of 10 -- in an Ovum customer survey. Competitors averaged a rating of 5.72 out of 10.

"VMware is one of only a handful of vendors that provide management capabilities for all aspects of a private cloud, from compute to network," Illsley said.

VMware's strong private cloud service also supports its hybrid cloud market position. Companies often see the hybrid cloud as a bridge from private to public cloud and opt for this approach rather than deploying a SaaS platform or rewriting the workloads as cloud-native, said Illsley.

Issues with the public cloud

VMware hit a few bumps with the public cloud, however. The vendor attempted to develop its own public cloud services -- known as vCloud Air -- but failed in the venture. VMware is working with leading public cloud suppliers, such as AWS, Microsoft and IBM to extend its public cloud management capabilities.

VMware built its own set of cloud-native management tools and has purchased various companies and pieces of software as a way to deliver its public cloud management capabilities. Some of VMware's acquisitions include Heptio, which makes Kubernetes management software; CloudHealth, which focuses on cloud cost management; and Pivotal, which helps developers manage container-based applications.

To increase its ability to successfully deliver its public cloud management capabilities, VMware must sync its management tools with leading public cloud services. VMware teamed with Amazon Web Services and IBM to integrate its public cloud services with VMware management software. The vendor has also begun to concentrate on tightly integrating its tools with parent company Dell Technologies' management system ecosystem.

A few evident holes

VMware now has many of the features that companies desire in a multi-cloud platform, but could still use some improvement. Purchasing companies and acquiring various pieces of software presents a challenge in integrating these elements and assimilating the workforces with its own cloud management services. But by strengthening its products, VMware can achieve just that.

"When looking at service meshes, serverless and containers, VMware is a bit behind others, but moving [in] the right direction," Illsley said.

VMware products have also been on the upper end of market pricing.

"VMware [software] comes with an expensive tax in terms of licensing fees," Elliot said. "Enterprises might opt for less expensive open source [software]."

At one point, VMware was a leader in the legacy enterprise management market. The vendor got off on a slow start in the multi-cloud management market, but is now gaining momentum, although significant work still lies ahead because it has yet to integrate its systems with specific vendor platforms, such as Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

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