VMware Intros Integrated Software-Defined Data Center Tech With New VMware Cloud Foundation

VMware on Monday introduced its first integrated software-defined data center offering combining its compute, storage, and networking virtualization technologies in a package the company said can be used to quickly build multi-cloud infrastructures.

The company also introduced IBM as its first official cloud partner where customers can quickly instantiate cloud clusters in a public cloud.

VMware is also offering technical demonstrations of its VMware cross-cloud services strategy for managing, governing and securing applications running in private and public clouds, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud.

[Related: Tech 10: Making 'Software-Defined' A Reality]

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The moves are being unveiled at this week's VMworld conference in Las Vegas.

VMware is using its cloud technology to extend its hybrid cloud strategy to the multi-cloud world, said Ajay Patel, senior vice president and general manager of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtualization and cloud technology provider.

"About 75 percent of our customer base will have three or more clouds by 2020, according to various analysts," Patel told CRN. "Customers will need the freedom to live in a multi-cloud world."

VMware is doing this with its new VMware Cloud Foundation, a natively-integrated infrastructure stack combining the company's vSphere server virtualization technology, VSAN software-defined storage technology, and NSX software-defined networking technology, said Alberto Farronato, senior director of product marketing at VMware.

VMware Cloud Foundation is a unified software-defined data center, or SDDC, platform for hybrid clouds, Farronato told CRN. It takes advantage of the VMware SDDC Manager tool to automate the deployment and lifecycle of software-defined data centers, providing a universal platform for any application across private and public clouds, he said.

VMware Cloud Foundation can be run on-premise or as a service, Farronato said. "It's the first as-a-service offering to build a full software-defined data center," he said.

Customers who use public clouds can easily end up with workloads operating in silos on separate clouds, and find it difficult to federate them for better efficiency, Farronato said. "VMware Cloud Foundation lets customers add common management and security to workloads without the need to rewrite the applications," he said.

VMware is bringing VMware Cloud Foundation to market in several formats, Patel said.

For customers looking to build private clouds, VMware will use the VCE VxRack 1000 SDDC hyper-converged infrastructure system. "VMware Cloud Foundation is the base for the next generation of hyper-convergence," Farronato said.

VMware will also work with several technology partners to develop Ready Systems that will let customers or their channel partners build their own private clouds based on VMware Cloud Foundation, Patel said. These include system partners such as Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and San Jose, Calif.-based Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT), to offer several Ready Systems, as well as networking technology partners like Cisco and Arista, he said.

VMware Cloud Foundation can also be used with public clouds, starting with the IBM Cloud in the third quarter of this year. Later this year, it will also be available on the VMware vCloud Air Network and vCloud Air, he said.

The IBM Cloud relation will be the first public cloud to allow instantiation of the VMware Cloud Foundation's software-defined data center, thanks to a relationship VMware and IBM formed in February, Patel said.

"This is the culmination of that relationship," he said. "We're delivering a complete data center in the cloud. It's completely automated."

To further increase VMware Cloud Foundation's capabilities, it integrates with VMware's vRealize cloud management platform, vSphere Integrated Containers, VMware Horizon virtual desktop infrastructure, and VMware Integrated OpenStack tools for deploying OpenStack on a software-defined data center.

VMware Cloud Foundation is a real go-to-market strategy for the channel, said Tony Ocampo, senior solutions architect and data center, storage, and data protection specialist at ConvergeOne, an Egan, Minn.-based solution provider and VMware partner.

Ocampo told CRN it is important that VMware tied its integrated software-defined data center strategy across on-premise and cloud infrastructures.

"It makes sense to combine hyper-converged infrastructure with software-defined data centers," he said. "VMware is providing a solution that really talks about and illustrates what software-defined data centers really are. There are software-defined compute, software-defined storage, and software-defined networking technologies bolted onto a public or a private cloud. VMware is showing this is not longer just a buzzword."

Ocampo said customers with lean IT staffs will be the initial targets for VMware Cloud Foundation. "In the past, you had separate server, storage, and networking administrators," he said. "But now they are collapsing into one administrator who is managing it all with a single pane of glass."

Jamie Shepard, senior vice president for healthcare and strategy at Lumenate, a Dallas-based solution provider and long-time VMware channel partner, told CRN that his company has already been bundling vSphere, VSAN, and NSX in various ways, but that VMware has introduced a better way to package the technologies with VMware Cloud Foundation.

"It's an awesome strategy," Shepard said. "We're already having these discussions. But now we can present an integrated solution. Now it's easier to present to customers. Everybody needs to be having these conversations with clients."

VMware Cloud Foundation has already helped grow opportunities for Lumenate, Shepard said. "Because of the new solution, I was able to grow a recent conversation we had with a customer about VMware Horizon and View. When we whiteboard VMware Cloud Foundation, it becomes a wider conversation."

Tempe, Ariz.-based distributor Avnet is looking to play a role in bringing VMware Cloud Foundation to channel partners, said Tim Fitzgerald, vice president of Americas digital transformation, for the company.

Avnet will be offering a number of solutions around VMware Cloud Foundation, including building the hyper-converged infrastructure appliances to support it and to help partners provide other services around the offering, Fitzgerald said. Avnet also brings cloud partnerships from IBM Cloud, Cisco, HPE, EMC, VCE, and other key players into the mix, he said.

VMware is also demonstrating technology related to its new cross-cloud strategy for providing services for applications running an any number of different public clouds, Patel said.

VMware's cross-cloud strategy will cover management, automation, networking, security, and data governance, Patel said. The services will work on VMware-powered clouds, including IBM Cloud, as well as on AWS, Google, and Azure clouds, he said.

Patel said that VMware competes with, and cooperates with, these cloud providers, but said the new cross-cloud services will be good for these companies.

"Amazon, for instance, would love selling more services," he said. "There's more to come. But for now, this week is just tech previews."

VMware's channel partners will see several new opportunities as VMware Cloud Foundation and the company's cross-cloud services come to market, Farronato said.

"They will effectively capture a fast-growing and large market opportunity around software-defined data centers," he said. "Partners today are addressing the cloud with point solutions. Now they can do it with the integrated VMware Cloud Foundation solution."

Channel partners can also offer customers new services, Patel said. "We're letting partners drive data center automation opportunities with customers, add automation, and otherwise help customers move to the next phase in the evolution of data centers," he said.