There is no debate today that the hybrid cloud model, and the use of multiple cloud providers, is the norm for enterprises. We had that argument five years ago even with Google Anthos and Azure Stack out there, but after AWS Outposts arrived, the debate stopped. Hybrid cloud is what enterprises want and that is what the tech industry is delivering whether you’re cloud native or a traditional on-prem vendor.
Unfortunately, many people have acquired what I would term accidental multi-clouds—as an example, using Salesforce and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) on AWS, making the AWS choice as the market leader, and needing Azure run Microsoft Office 365. Unfortunately, these are not examples of “true” multi-cloud in my book.
Criteria for true multi-cloud success
The truth is that managing and supporting multi-cloud isn’t easy. There are three criteria I would offer for true multi-cloud success. The first criterium involves aligning the right workloads into the right cloud, going far beyond price arbitrage between clouds and using the best cloud for each application, and managing data as if it were from one location, even if it is not.
The second criterium requires security policies to be in place across clouds and on-premises. For example, there must be a single sign-on across all applications. In addition, each cloud needs a firewall, security incident and event management, micro-segmentation, identity and access management, and endpoint security. Management of multi-cloud security through a single pane of glass will avoid costly mistakes.
Third, and probably the most crucial criterium, are standard services to manage the multi-cloud complexity—the ability to manage cost and performance across every cloud from a single pane of glass. Management includes the network, security controls, cost, operations, provisioning, automation, orchestration, and compliance.
With these three criteria as my guide, I am on a crusade to evaluate vendors worthy of being labeled as actual multi-cloud providers. I could argue a fourth, data fabric, but I’ll save that for another analysis.
This article is the turn of VMware to pass the litmus test to be a trustworthy multi-cloud provider.
VMware’s multi-cloud strategy
Developers drive IT. The history of VMware has evolved around developers from the workstation to virtual machines as applications moved to the server. VMware's goal is to bring simplicity to complex environments starting with the server and storage, the management layer, DevOps, and the development layer – all via VMware Cloud.
That includes VMware Tanzu, a portfolio of products and services, part of VMware Cloud and designed to enable developers to release code quickly. It eliminates manual steps, automates containerized workloads based on Kubernetes, and proactively manages applications in production.
VMware has built the VMware Cloud platform to allow developers to build and deploy applications to any cloud by providing a consistent VMware Cloud Foundation SDDC integrating vSphere, vSAN and NSX virtualization technologies running on bare-metal servers in cloud provider regions. Using VMware Cloud, applications deployed to VMware Cloud Foundation will run on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, IBM Cloud, and Oracle Cloud without modification.
The best cloud for each application
Deciding where to place an application is a complex decision based on infrastructure costs, data fees, performance, uptime, and latency. VMware Tanzu can help you modernize the applications, build new applications faster and automate the path to production. Tanzu establishes a unified operating model for virtual machines and containers within a private cloud and across clouds utilizing Kubernetes.
VMware Tanzu Labs is a services organization that will analyze your application portfolio to develop and execute a roadmap for application modernization. VMware Tanzu Observability (by Wavefront) provides monitoring from applications to cloud infrastructures with metrics, traces, span logs, and analytics.
VMware App Navigator is a service to provide a migration roadmap to the cloud. VMware can develop a roadmap for application modernization using automated tools. VMware will rationalize the customer’s application portfolio, identify modernization strategies and recommend the placement of applications based on business and IT goals.
Migrating to the cloud requires a fresh look at data architectures. However, modern applications don't perform well using monolithic data systems. VMware Tanzu offers three kinds of data management software for modernizing applications; relational databases, caches, and message brokers. Tanzu Data Services offers MySQL and Postgres relational databases, RabbitMQ open-source message broker, and GemFirebased on open source Apache Geode as an in-memory store commonly used for application caching.
Single sign-on across all applications
VMware has two products to mitigate multi-cloud security risks.
CloudHealth Secure State is intelligent cloud security and a compliance monitoring platform. Security teams can quickly visualize risks associated with misconfigured resources and track historical changes. As objects, data, and relationships change, the service intelligently detects new violations in real-time and enables users to send alerts or initiate automated actions to eliminate security risks immediately. CloudHealth Secure State sits on a data layer that leverages cloud APIs, change events, and native threat data to help organizations model a multi-cloud environment through a single pane of glass.
vRealize Network Insight helps build an optimized and secure network infrastructure across multi-cloud environments.
It enables micro-segmentation planning and deployment, visibility across virtual and physical networks and provides operational views to manage and scale VMware NSXdeployments.
Managing multi-cloud complexity
VMware Cloud Console allows you to manage all your VMware infrastructure through a single control panel, across on-premise, the cloud, and the edge. That is a significant advantage for administrators and checks one of my criteriums. Through Cloud Console, customers also can redeem credits, deploy VMware Cloud Universal eligible offerings, and reach out to VMware support organizations.
VMware vRealize is a suite of tools designed to manage a multi-cloud environment. vRealize automation handles configuration management and network automation. vRealize Operations delivers continuous performance optimization, capacity and cost planning and management, remediation, and compliance. vRealize Log Insight is an analysis tool containing dashboards and analytics. And finally, vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager delivers application lifecycle and content management.
Providing end-to-end visibility and control of the infrastructure across on-premises cloud, edge, and public cloud checks another of my criterium for success. The single pane of glass for deploying new services, whether it be VM-based applications as well as Kubernetes-based applications, in a consistent way, is very compelling.
VMware has a dizzying array of products and services with naming conventions I find confusing. But if you are willing to delve into the product functionality, you will find the VMware multi-cloud solution very compelling. VMware more than meets my three criteria for a true multi-cloud solution. You could argue for a fourth dimension, data, but that’s for another write-up.
Many IT professionals founded careers on VMware virtual machine (VM) technology. Today, VMware enables a new generation of IT professionals in the brave new world of multi-cloud, DevOps, and Kubernetes. Check out the new Kubernetes Academy from VMware and Modern Apps Learning by VMware Tanzu.
It is incredible how quickly and comprehensively VMware shifted to the cloud and that is a good thing for its customers and the industry.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.