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VMware ties customers' virtual services to public cloud

VMware is tackling the difficulty of moving workloads from the data center to its public cloud by providing a unified platform for running virtual services.

SAN FRANCISCO -- VMware has introduced technology to connect customers' data centers with the vendor's public cloud to create a unified platform for virtualized computing, networking and storage.

The vendor announced this week at a San Francisco event that its NSX network virtualization technology would be used as the glue to connect on-premises applications with VMware's vCloud Air public cloud. The applications would have to run on VMware's hypervisors.

VMware, a pioneer in virtualization, sells the vCloud Suite for creating a virtual data center in which all resources are defined by software.  NSX, released in the fall of 2013, combines vCloud, security and the network overlay technology VMware acquired from Nicira Networks in 2012.

How a VMware hybrid cloud works

The vendor has embedded NSX in vCloud Air to let customers run the same software-defined network and security functions in the data center and in the public cloud. In essence, vCloud Air becomes a connection in the customer's wide area network (WAN).

"The end-goal is to allow customers to have an easier time migrating workloads," Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner said. "With this announcement, VMware now has a full story to address this from a networking perspective."

Public clouds are often used by enterprises for disaster recovery, storage and analytics. They are also used to hand off workloads during sudden spikes in processing transactions.

Testing VMware's technology, which will be available this quarter, will be the only way to know whether the vendor has achieved a truly unified platform. However, the company has "the base infrastructure ingredients to make it work," Lerner said.

Competing against Cisco

VMware and Cisco are competing in the data center with proprietary technology that is fundamentally different. While the former wants to define all resources in software running on any server, the latter is providing software that has the same purpose but runs on Cisco hardware.

VMware's latest technology will go up against Cisco's Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), which is also built to integrate cloud computing and data center management. ACI, which is part of Cisco's network programmability framework, is meant to prevent customers from moving to rivals like VMware.

Combining vCloud Air and NSX should increase adoption of the latter as VMware "battles with Cisco for increased data center networking influence," Lerner said.

"It makes perfect sense for VMware NSX to be embedded in vCloud Air," he said.

Outside of the data center, VMware's public cloud competes with similar infrastructure as a service (IaaS) products from Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

Amazon Web Services led the global IaaS market last year with a 28% share, followed by Microsoft at 10%, IBM at 7%, and Google at 5%, according to Synergy Research Group.

VMware, which was late in providing a public cloud, launched vCloud Air last year as a way to keep customers on the company's virtualization platform as they looked to the cloud for handling more workloads.

Last year, 93% of enterprises worldwide were implementing or considering some type of cloud service, according to IDC. Many of those organizations were in the early stages of evaluating cloud services or educating themselves about the benefits.

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