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VMware has set its sights on helping enterprises monitor and control their use of its Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google’s public cloud services, as firms move to pursue a hybrid and multi-cloud approach to IT consumption.
The virtualisation giant plans to achieve this through the roll-out of its Cross-Cloud Services initiative, which it announced the preview release of at its VMworld US conference in Las Vegas.
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering gives enterprises access to a central, web-based console that allows them to track the consumption, cost and security posture of workloads running in Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and on the Google Cloud Platform.
The service can also be used to automate, deploy and manage the migration of applications between private and public clouds, regardless of whether or not they are built on the VMware software stack.
During a question and answer session with the press at VMworld US, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said the service uses the public cloud providers’ open application programming interfaces (APIs) and interfaces to operate.
“The story we’re delivering with Cross-Cloud Services is that customers are taking advantage of clouds, and sometimes they are built on us and sometimes they are not,” he said.
“Cross-Cloud Services is allowing those capabilities to be better managed, better secured and better connected across whatever cloud they need and give [enterprises] more freedom of choice.”
The company said it expects the role-call of public cloud providers covered by the initiative to increase in time to include those that only operate in certain geographies or offer more specialised services.
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For the time being, VMware is focused on aligning itself with the services most commonly used by VMware’s existing customer base, who are increasingly widening the pool of public cloud providers they use for business agility, cost-savings and other practical purposes.
“There are a lot more cloud providers than the big four. Geographic cloud, different providers in different markets and a lot of those are service providers and many of those are built on VMware technologies,” said Gelsinger.
Guido Appenzeller, chief technology strategy officer working in VMware’s network and security business unit, said very few enterprises are choosing to go all-in with a single public cloud provider when deciding where to run their applications and workloads.
“For us it’s just a question of priorities. We want to support as many clouds as we can. We researched our customer base and Amazon and Azure are obviously leading, but for our customers vSphere-based clouds are number three and then there is Google. So we will focus there first,” he said.
“Going into this, my assumption was an enterprise will choose one cloud, choose one strategic partnership and move there. But I haven’t talked to an enterprise that thinks about the cloud that way.”
The growth of managed cloud services
Former VMware CEO Paul Maritz, who stood down in 2012, repeatedly emphasised the company had no interest in establishing itself as a cloud services provider, preferring instead to focus on its position as a supplier of the software to run and manage their datacentre environments.
To this end, the company has taken a partnership-led approach to the provision of public cloud services to its customers through the establishment of its vCloud Air Network programme.
The unveiling of Cross-Cloud Services is consistent with the company’s positioning on that front, and effectively sees the firm moving into similar territory to Rackspace, which in recent years has made a concerted effort to establish itself as a provider of managed services to public cloud providers.
Gelsinger said the managed cloud route is one many of the service providers that make up the vCloud Air Network are increasingly moving to adopt as well.
“Many service providers are becoming managed cloud providers for their customers. That is because enterprises don’t want to build and operate the hardware themselves, and they’re looking instead of having an outsourcer [working with] a managed cloud provider,” he added.