VMware: Now you can send your VMs to Amazon's cloud (and then back to us)

In what some analysts are calling a dramatic shift in strategy, VMware today rolled out new features to its vCloud Suite management software that allow customers to migrate workloads to non-VMware cloud environments, including on Amazon Web Services.

In July, VMware surprised many cloud-watchers when it purchased DynamicOps, a company that allows users to easily manage workloads across multiple hypervisors and cloud platforms. VMware said at the time it is committed to a enabling its users to access multiple services from different vendors. Today, the company followed through on its promise.

"They're making some pretty strong changes," says Gartner analyst Ronni Colville. "DynamicOps was a major shift in VMware not just saying it will work outside its comfort zone, but really doing it."

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Nearly three months after closing the acquisition of DynamicOps, VMware is officially rolling out the intellectual property it bought from the company. At VMworld Barcelona, which begins today and runs through this week, VMware is announcing integration of vCloud Automation Center 5.1 into the vCloud Suite. That will allow IT organizations to manage virtual machines across heterogeneous cloud and physical environments.

VMware Application Director, also part of the suite, provides a similar functionality for applications that can now be run on VMware clouds or in AWS's elastic compute cloud (EC2). vCloud Connector allows hybrid cloud connectivity, or the ability to scale from one cloud to another. VMware is extending its management capability to include not only VMware-based clouds, but also physical infrastructure, Amazon Web Services and mutli-hypervisor environments.

In enabling this capability, VMware is ceding some control of the infrastructure and banking on the notion that customers will want to centrally manage workloads across multiple clouds or hypervisors, says Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti. VMware initially attempted to provide a public cloud options for customers through its vCloud Director ecosystem of public cloud providers, but Bartoletti says that has been slow to catch on, so these moves could be an acknowledgement of that. Or, looked at another way, it points to the strength of AWS's standing in the market. "If you can't beat them, manage them," he says.

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AWS has made it really easy for users to go out and get public cloud resources, says Rob Smoot, director of marketing for VMware's management division. The goal in rolling out these features is to allow IT to still control those workloads. "We've always had the philosophy of being open and managing other hypervisors when the demand warranted it," he says. "We acknowledge that customers may want to deploy to Amazon, deploy to physical hardware, and we want to be the vendor they choose to manage that."

He also reminded customers of the advantages of working within the VMware ecosystem, though. Using a vSphere virtualized environment for compute and storage, combined with a vCloud Director public cloud resources, he says, allows for the easiest management of workloads across the systems, as well as baked-in features, such as dynamic rebalancing, high availability, fault tolerance, point-and-click availability, plus seamless and single-pane-of-glass management across the systems.

However big the move is for VMware and its cloud strategy, or for customers and their operations, Gartner's Colville says it could only be the first step. "DynamicOps comes with a whole lot of integrations," and watching how those are not just initially supported, but further developed will be the real key. In a way VMware, she says, is looking to commoditize a hardware layer and is looking to make its margins through the services and software management tools to keep customers coming back for more.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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