Oracle Looks To Empower The Channel With Its VMware Alliance

In a market suddenly crowded with hyperscalers offering VMware environments, Oracle VMware Cloud Solution differentiates itself with an architectural approach that implements vSphere on the same instances that run all other workloads and allows customers and partners full operational control.


Oracle Cloud’s newly launched VMware service takes an architectural approach that puts the channel front and center in selling, implementation and management, Ross Brown, vice president for go-to-market at Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, told CRN.

The market has been flooded with hyperscalers offering their versions of hosted VMware environments in recent years. But Oracle VMware Cloud Solution is unique in its ability to seamlessly operate alongside all types of workloads while empowering partners with full operational control, said Brown, a former VMware channel chief.

“In cloud, I have to serve all my IT: VMware workloads, VDI, cloud-native stuff. All those things have to work there, and those things are by definition partner integrated and delivered,” Brown said.

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Oracle VMware Cloud Solution launched Thursday in all of Oracle’s global cloud regions, as well as through its on-premises cloud solution, Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer. The service, unveiled before last year’s Oracle OpenWorld conference, had previously been available only to beta customers through a limited release.

Oracle’s approach to delivering a native VMware service was grounded in the belief that hybrid and multi-cloud will become the norm for most enterprises, and the granular workings of hosted VMware environments should be entirely accessible and seamlessly interoperable with other workloads.

In recent years, VMware has forged alliances with the public cloud providers it once competed with, starting with Amazon Web Services and then moving on to Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

Oracle didn’t want to emulate any of those plays, Brown said.

Instead, the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based tech giant focused on the question: “How do you build a more performant cloud that actually allows partners to engage on their workloads and go run them?” Brown said.

Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud offer dedicated hardware to run VMware that customers can connect to the rest of their cloud instances. And VMware Cloud on AWS also stands apart from the native AWS environment, Brown said.

“AWS doesn’t offer VMware. VMware offers VMware on AWS. You can build a connection back to your AWS tenancy, but it’s still separate,” he told CRN.

Oracle took a different tack, integrating the full VMware stack—vSphere, NSX network virtualization, vSAN storage virtualization, vRealize management—directly into the same bare-metal clusters that comprise the rest of the customer’s cloud tenancy.

The comprehensive integration of OCI with the VMware Cloud Foundation stack and VMware tools was an endeavor that Oracle product and engineering teams worked on for two years.

“VMware is a pretty detailed infrastructure environment,” Brown said. “It maximizes the hardware. It’s definitely not a lightweight tool, and it operates at a very thin layer.”

That approach, while technically challenging, delivers certain advantages—especially to the channel.

For starters, all VMware and third-party tools that partners currently use to manage on-premises VMware environments will work just the same in Oracle’s cloud.

“They operate identically because we’re running the same physical infrastructure, just as a cloud service,” Brown said.

With granular control over nearly all infrastructure operations, VMware partners can offer a complete catalog of managed services, just as they would if they stood up vSphere in their own data centers. Oracle allows them to create a VMware region and offer their customers shared tenancy, then use the complete set of MSP tools that VMware distributes through its VMware Cloud Provider Program.

“The notion of moving on-premises hardware into a cloud environment, still have everything work the same way, and have all management contracts go along with it, is pretty powerful,” Brown said.

Oracle also is the first cloud to allow customers to select a version of the ESX hypervisor, which is useful for those with apps certified for specific ESX releases.

“If I want to get under the hypervisor and do things with vCloud Director, we’re the only cloud that can do that,” he said.

Oracle’s partnership with VMware reflects its larger philosophy of cloud being an approach, not a place, Brown said.

But Oracle certainly hasn’t yet built a reputation as a VMware provider—the companies are better known for a longstanding rivalry predating their cloud transformations.

That’s another reason Oracle set out to build an offering that empowers the channel, Brown said, as it needs partners to be the trusted advisers that bring the service to enterprise customers.

“I‘m glad to see more native support from Oracle on their customers’ platforms of choice,” said David Klee, founder and chief architect at VMware partner Heraflux.

A native VMware platform on Oracle Cloud will further encourage the channel to migrate Oracle databases out of on-premises data centers and into the cloud, Klee told CRN.

“I‘m eager to see how this cloud platform continues to evolve and expand, and what other service offerings they will add in the future to complement this big shift in their model,” he said.

The product that appears to be stimulating the most customer interest for Oracle VMware Cloud Solution is Dedicated Region Cloud@Customer, Brown said. The on-premises infrastructure unveiled in June offers the same array of services, SLAs and pricing models as Oracle’s public cloud.

On-premises Exadata hardware running cloud-native apps built with Kubernetes and legacy ones built on VMware is a compelling offer to many large Oracle customers, Brown told CRN.

Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison praised the solution last September in an OpenWorld keynote.

“We have a very important relationship with VMware,” Ellison said. ”The VMware stack you‘re running on-premises, you really can lift and shift it intact to the Oracle Cloud.”