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Cloud Applications

VMware unveils new Cross-Cloud Architecture

VMware emerges as a public cloud integrator with its Cross-Cloud Architecture. The solutions are intended to seamlessly integrate with cloud services from AWS, IBM, Microsoft, Google and others.

09 Nov. 2016 Michael Kurzidim
VMware's new Cross-Cloud will let companies use cloud solutions from a variety of providers. (Photo: possohh /

VMworld 2016

VMware offers its customers freedom of choice. Biz applications packed into virtual machines should run in every Cloud and on every device the customer wants. The cloud silos of the next generation should finally be done away with. The typical user company, according to British weekly The Economist's "Intelligence Unit," juggles eight cloud services and 175 SaaS apps. "Our customers want tools that let them bring order to this overgrown jungle of a cloud," said VMware CEO Patrick Gelsinger at their VMworld trade expo in Barcelona, Spain.

Details of the new "VMware Cloud on AWS" had already leaked out before the fair, and visitors to Barcelona could see a TechPreview. VMware is hoisting its entire visualization stack into the AWS Cloud. The binding element between their proprietary and the public AWS cloud are "cloud foundations," a sort of hyperconvergent infrastructure management system combining computing (vSphere), storage (Virtual SAN) and network (NSX) into a single unit.

Software-defined data center on AWS

The customer can shop around, choosing processors/CPUs/cores, hard drives, flash/SSDs, operating systems and network switches in precisely the numbers and specifications it needs, and receives a transparent cost estimate for their chosen service.

In this way, customers build their own software-defined data center (SDDC). SDDC is another term that VMware has helped shape. The new "VMware Cloud on AWS" will be available in three build sizes:

  • Small: 4 hosts, 294 GHz CPU, 976 GB memory, 25 TB storage
  • Medium: 32 hosts, 2352 GHz CPU, 7 GB memory, 200 TB storage
  • Large: 64 hosts, 4704 GHz CPU, 15 GB memory, 400 TB storage

The actual data center runs on a dedicated AWS infrastructure. Payment can be calculated based on an hourly rate or under a fixed contract with a duration of one or three years.

Collaboration between VMware and Microsoft / Google

VMware sees itself and its new premium cloud partner AWS as being in a win-win situation. But customers should benefit hugely as well. AWS is the market leader in the cloud infrastructure business, operating 38 data centers worldwide, on which the VMware Cloud on AWS will run starting in mid-2017 – it will take that long to get up and running.

Customers can then integrate the some 70 biz applications already available from AWS into their VMware cloud. We are entering a whole new revenue stream, was the tone. We will develop innovations together in the future.

VMware loves AWS

Heavyweights Microsoft and Google play a much smaller role in VMware's Cross-Cloud Architecture. The market leader's virtualization stack will not run on the Microsoft Azure cloud or the Google Cloud platform, said VMware CEO Gelsinger in somewhat veiled, but nonetheless unmistakable terms, at VMworld. They will be limited instead to hybrid networking and management. VMware loves AWS, but not apparently Microsoft and Google.

Nonetheless, VMware cannot do without software heavyweight Microsoft, and extends it a hand from time to time. The new Cross-Cloud Architecture comprises vSphere core components, the VSAN virtual storage network and the NSX network virtualization solution.. In the new VSAN 6.5 release, VMware has integrated an iSCSI communication protocol connection for external physical workloads, which also benefits Microsoft's SQL server.

The new VSAN 6.5 release also supports 512-byte hard disks, solid state disks (SSD) and containers, for which the provider offers the Kubernetes container management system as a service.

VMware and the Dell-EMC merger

The most important innovation of vSphere 6.5, also a component of the "VMware Cloud on AWS," is likely the encryption of virtual machines, which ensures additional security in the public cloud. Even VMs that are migrated to another host or cloud using vMotion software remain encrypted during their transport.

Not a single word was wasted on the Dell-EMC merger at VMworld. And yet software gem VMware is now a part of the mega infrastructure provider Dell Technologies with its servers, storage, network engineering and laptops.

Dell merger largely unnoticed

But apparently VMware hovers easily above the solid hardware world of Dell and EMC. "We haven't felt an impact from the merger so far," said Marcel Panholzer, Senior Manager Systems Engineering at VMware Switzerland, to com! professional. Michael Dell had pledged to let the software company, which already enjoyed special status within the EMC group, to continue to operate with great autonomy.

Apparently Dell is keeping its promise. But organizational changes, restructurings and layoffs at Dell Technologies are not planned until February of next year.