Analysis: Can VMware vCHS provide catalyst for enterprise hybrid cloud adoption?

With the launch of its vCloud Hybrid Service in the UK and Europe, virtualisation software giant VMware has officially thrown its hat into the public cloud computing ring.

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After years dominating on-premise data centre deployments with its virtualisation and management tools, VMware has come under growing pressure to respond as enterprises begin to move workloads into the public cloud.

With the launch of its vCloud Hybrid Service in the UK and Europe last week VMware has finally made its move into the fast-evolving infrastructure as a service market. But as a relative late-comer to the market - can vCHS grab the attention of customers, and provide the push many need for wider cloud adoption?

It is a move some have labelled as defensive, with VMware finding its hand forced by the threat posed to its licensing revenues as enterprises take the public cloud ever more seriously and rely less upon on-premise virtualised servers.

Perhaps, but for customers of the vendor it opens another potential avenue for moving towards the cloud. vCHS provides a rival offering to the established players including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace and increasingly other OpenStack-based clouds from traditional IT suppliers such as IBM.

VMware, has taken a slightly different approach to many of these cloud providers. It is hoping that infrastructure managers familiarity with its management tools such vCloud Automation Center and vCloud Director will give it an edge over competitors and provide the basis for cloud deployments which extending from the data centre outwards. This contrasts with AWS, for example, which has found popularity among developers in particular.

Hybrid cloud adoption

According to IDC research manager Spencer Izard, the investment that many large companies have already made in VMware makes vCHS a strong proposition for cloud deployments.  

"For customers that have a large estate of VMware virtualisation right now and have committed to them quite considerably it make a lot of sense for them purchasing cloud Iaas to stick with VMware. One of the big things they are obviously pushing is the fact that what you do with them on-site is the same on their cloud, it is is highly portable and you can move servers back and forth.  

"How much truth there is in that and whether there are any technical issues that need to be ironed out is another question, but that is a really big sell for a lot of customers."

Speaking at the launch of vCHS last week, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger claimed that hybrid clouds are likely to be the primary type of deployment over the next "10 to 20 years", while analysts Gartner expect hybrid clouds will be deployed at around half of large enterprises by 2017.

By removing some of the complexity involved in moving workloads to and from public cloud providers - often cited as a major problem for businesses - VMware’s approach could offer a way to speed this process, particularly in Europe where adoption of public cloud has been slower than the US.

Forrester vice president and principal analyst, James Staten, expects that the initial workloads to be migrated off-premise by enterprises are likely to be 'engagement applications': websites, customer-facing promotional applications, mobile applications, batch applications, business intelligence.

"Right now we are still relatively early in cloud adoption by enterprises, but VMware certainly has a better opportunity [than competitors] to capture the more mainstream enterprise applications," he said.

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