Opposites Attract: 8 Cloud Deals Forged To Deliver Hybrid Solutions

Teaming Toward Hybrid

Recent months have seen a steady progression of deals in which powerhouse IT vendors, many of which wouldn't be caught dead in a room together a couple years earlier, locked arms to deliver hybrid cloud capabilities at global scale.

As hybrid infrastructure increasingly becomes the IT model of choice for the global enterprise, technology vendors are realizing they can't deliver the goods entirely on their own. Most are specialists in either on-premises infrastructure, or running their clouds, but not both. Even Microsoft and Oracle, two companies with the rare ability to span the hybrid divide, see the value of partnering.

Legacy stalwarts need their cloud counterparts; IaaS providers like industry leader Amazon Web Services, whose CEO once blithely proclaimed the demise of on-premises infrastructure, have reassessed the realities of modern enterprise environments. As it becomes clear neither model looks poised to dominate, at least not in the foreseeable future, the hybrid impetus is acting as a magnetic force, and opposites attract.

Google And Cisco

The blockbuster deal revealed last week extends Cisco's networking, security and hyper-converged portfolio across Google's cloud infrastructure. The networking giant gains a seamless bridge to next-generation public cloud technologies, including a platform for Kubernetes container orchestration. Google gains a more credible hybrid story.

The joint Cisco-Google offering will include several components that can be purchased together or separately, including hardware, software and cloud-based services. Cisco software will be licensed on an annual subscription basis.

Customers can purchase Google Cloud services wrapped into the joint offering directly through Google or from its partners. The offering will be available in several pay-as-you-go models for services. Developer kits will be available next year.

Oracle And Equinix

Equinix is the world's largest data center operator with an unrivaled roster of multinational co-location customers. Oracle is showing success leveraging its massive customer base and technological aptitude to charge into the public cloud with a unique value proposition. Together, the two companies see an opportunity to capitalize on more enterprise business.

Last week they expanded Oracle's private, dedicated network link, FastConnect, to 16 more Equinix data centers across North America and Europe.

FastConnect already had been deployed at Equinix's facility in Washington, D.C. The latest investment in the hybrid enabling capability allows customers to directly connect to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure through that existing link from additional data centers by leveraging Equinix Cloud Exchange.

Direct connections to Oracle's cloud were previously available in some of those Equinix facilities only through a predecessor technology, Oracle FastConnect Classic.

AWS And VMware

This industry-rattling partnership brought together the leading public and private cloud vendors last year with the mission of delivering VMware's vSphere environment from Amazon's cloud.

VMware Cloud on AWS recently debuted in a limited release and, according to the two vendors, is seeing wide adoption among enterprise customers. The hybrid cloud service is officially a VMware product — sold, supported and managed by the virtualization leader.

"Could we partner effectively with Amazon? There was a period we weren't certain if we could," VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger told CRN the week of the product launch.

But the breakthrough came through the mutual respect of the engineering teams, Gelsinger said, and Amazon's commitment to hosting the ESX hypervisor on bare-metal servers.

"There was some relationship-building to be done there, and I would just say, they've been a great partner," Gelsinger told CRN of Amazon.

IBM And VMware

VMware's deal with AWS garnered so much attention that it overshadowed a similar relationship it had forged with IBM months earlier.

Its strategic partnership with Big Blue, unveiled in February 2016, paved VMware's way into the public cloud by enabling customers to migrate workloads to and from vSphere private deployments and IBM's SoftLayer.

Some channel discontent around the role of partners was smoothed out a year later when IBM authorized its business partners to resell the integrated hybrid offering.

Mirantis And AWS

Mirantis was among the pioneers bringing OpenStack to the enterprise. But the pure-play OpenStack vendor needed to change up its model as demand for the open-source cloud operating system faltered, in part due to rapid public cloud adoption.

Mirantis took its first step out of the data center in September by leveraging the Kubernetes container orchestration system to extend across AWS infrastructure.

The latest version of Mirantis Cloud Platform, which offers an integrated container service, will allow users to provision Kubernetes clusters both on their private infrastructure and in the public cloud.

The embrace of container tech, and now the public cloud, is part of the startup's transformation from being an OpenStack company to an open cloud company.

Google And Citrix

Google and Citrix Systems expanded their existing partnership in July to facilitate delivery of Citrix environments from Google's cloud infrastructure, as well as better integrate document collaboration and endpoint products.

The companies are working on enabling Citrix partners and customers to use Citrix Cloud, an emerging platform for launching hybrid Citrix environments, to deploy virtualized applications and desktops on Google Cloud Platform.

Netscaler CPX, a version of Citrix's application delivery and load balancing solution geared for containers, also became available for Google Cloud.

Google And Nutanix

Google's push to make Google Cloud Platform a go-to enterprise option that challenges the dominance of AWS and Microsoft Azure got a boost in June from a partnership with data center infrastructure innovator Nutanix.

Google said joining forces with Nutanix will help its cloud division appeal to enterprises by enabling a hybrid approach.

The joint Google-Nutanix offering for moving applications to the Google Cloud from on-premises environments is expected to debut during the first quarter of 2018.

HPE And Microsoft

Freshly spun out from Hewlett Packard in late 2015, Hewlett Packard Enterprise quickly saw fit to designate Microsoft Azure as a "preferred" public cloud partner.

"Microsoft shares our view of a hybrid IT approach for enterprises, and we both see opportunity to simplify hybrid infrastructure for our customers," said CEO Meg Whitman at the time. "HPE will serve as a preferred provider of Microsoft’s infrastructure and services for its hybrid cloud offerings.’

The strategic hybrid partnership came one month after HPE said it would shut down its own HP Helion Public Cloud. Whitman said HPE was "doubling down" on its managed and virtual private cloud offerings in the wake of that exit.

"This is the right move," she asserted. "It plays to our strengths in private and managed cloud. We will continue to extend our cloud infrastructure leadership and integrate the public cloud element for our customers through a strategic, partner-based model."