Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Wednesday, February 1, 2023

VMware Builds Out Public Cloud In US and Europe 

The VMware server virtualization installed base has 40 million virtual machines across its 500,000 customers. Most of those VMware shops will want to run at least some of their workloads on public clouds at some point. But VMware's software is not cheap, and it has been difficult for the company to get service providers to offer its ESXi hypervisor on their clouds. So, earlier this year, VMware decided to build its own public cloud, which it is now expanding across facilities in the United States and into the United Kingdom.

The vCloud Hybrid Service, as the cloud is known, offers server slices on shared infrastructure as well as dedicated slices for those who do not want to have their workloads mixing on the same machines with others, or are prohibited by policies or regulations from doing so. VMware has been cagey about what server, storage, and networking infrastructure that it is using to build its cloud and how much capacity it has installed thus far. But Mathew Lodge, vice president of cloud services at VMware, tells EnterpriseTech that vCHS uses just about every piece of software in the VMware catalog.

When VMware announced vCHS back in May, there was plenty of chatter about how VMware would be targeting Amazon Web Services in the public cloud. That may have been VMware's desire a few years back when it rolled out its vCloud Director cloud controller and related tools for transforming virtual servers into clouds and it was working with partners to get them to build their own public clouds using its software. But these days, what VMware wants to do is give its vast installed base of ESXi customers a cloud that is absolutely compatible with what they are running inside their datacenters. That compatibility guarantee is one reason that VMware thinks it can charge a slight premium over AWS or others building clouds with open source hypervisors and cloud controllers.

"We're not dabbling in this," says Lodge. "We are investing heavily and it is the number two priority for the company behind the software-defined data center. Our objective is to grow this business as quickly as possible and we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't think it would be a multi-billion dollar business."

VMware is not silly enough to be pouring its own concrete for datacenters. The initial vCHS service was running out of the SuperNAP datacenter in the Las Vegas suburbs; it went live in late August after being in beta testing for three months. With the expansion announced this week, says Lodge, VMware is adding capacity in Saavis data centers in Santa Clara, California and Sterling, Virginia, giving it lower latencies to customers in Silicon Valley and on the Eastern seaboard. VMware also plans to fire up vCHS capacity in an Equinix data center outside of London in Slough. Customers will be able to start testing the vCHS service from the Slough datacenter starting this quarter, with general availability in the first quarter of 2014. Lodge said that because Western Europe is "fairly compact" it would be able to serve the key customers in the largest IT markets – Germany, the United Kingdom, and France – from the Slough facility. Looking ahead, VMware is on track to put vCHS capacity in datacenters in the Asia/Pacific region next year.

Early customers on the vCHS service include Harley Davidson, which is putting some of its dealer applications on the cloud, and Columbia Sportswear, which is moving its application development and testing environment to vCHS.

The current vCHS cloud is running on last year's ESXi 5.1 and vCloud Suite 5.1 releases, by the way, not the new 5.5 releases that came out in August. Lodge says that VMware will be upgrading its cloud to its most recent software in the next couple of months. Even VMware has to take its time doing upgrades because it cannot afford to disrupt its customers.

In conjunction with the cloud buildout, VMware also announced the vCloud Hybrid Service Online Marketplace, which is an online catalog of the 3,800 applications that are certified to run atop the ESXi hypervisor and a compatible operating system. The software is being packaged up in virtual appliances, all ready to download, try, and buy, and it is aimed at attracting new customers as well as existing ones to the VMware fold.

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