VMware has gone live with its vCloud Hybrid Service in the UK, promising it will help to alleviate European businesses' concerns around data sovereignty by offering access to regional data centre providers.
Unlike other third-party cloud services like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, VMware is not building its own data centres, but will rely instead on capacity provided by a network of local partners.
Speaking at a launch event for vCHS in London today, Bill Fathers, senior vice-president and general manager, hybrid cloud services business unit, said that the use of regional data centre partners will help allay data sovereignty concerns among European businesses following the Edward Snowden-NSA revelations.
“In terms of underlying needs of clients being able to control which data remains in their own data centre, or if it does go into the public cloud, they need to be able to explicitly control whether that cloud will be in France, Germany or the UK,” said Fathers.
“That is hardwired into the vCHS service: as we roll out into other jurisdictions in Europe, we need to be able to give the clients an absolute guarantee that the data will only reside in the data centre they specify. We think that is very unique.”
The first data centre provider to support vCHS in the UK will be Equinix’s facility in Slough, with customers able to access 5,700 applications available on vCHS, as well as support for 90 operating systems.
vCHS will integrate with a range of VMware software, allowing customers to seamlessly move workloads from their private clouds to off-premise data centres, managing VMs in the same way they would already use VMware’s existing automation and orchestration tools such as vSphere Web Client, vCloud Application Director, and vCloud Automation Center.
The cloud service is available to customers running VMware’s ESX hypervisor tools, with no requirement to invest in a license for the full vCloud suite of orchestration and automation tools.
Customers can pay for the service as a subscription model, usage based, or as a one-time service. Full pricing details can be found here.
CEO Pat Gelsinger said that the launch of the cloud service plays a key part in the vendor’s plans to support the transition of its customers into a ‘mobile-cloud’ world, which will largely be reliant on hybrid clouds.
“Today’s announcement is a critical cog in that overall strategy, a critical piece of that overall direction because we have to become a hybrid cloud provider for our customers, our channels, our partners, and establish the hybrid proposition. We are enhancing the value of what they do with us on-premise and also giving them an off-premise alternative."
The concept of hybrid cloud – moving seamlessly between on-premise and public cloud resources - has gained ground as many enterprise customers see private cloud strategies mature and begin to look to public cloud providers. Analysts Gartner recently claimed that over half of large firms will have a hybrid model in place by 2017.
Cancer Research was one of the customers which took part in the UK beta. Mick Briggs, head of infrastructure at the charity said that the company wanted a cloud service that they something they could “plug into”.
“There has been an awful lot of talk about hybrid cloud in the past, and people have said that because they have got some kit on premise and some of it out on the pubilc cloud it is hybrid - and the answer is absolutely not,” he said.
"We plug into the vCSH and it is part of our cloud. We stretch our layer two [data link], and it is the same datacentre stretched across the two. Everything else we have done has been, ‘our cloud - their cloud’."
He added: “Our experience on the beta was that we could use vCloud Connector to plug in to vCHS, and it worked.”
Michael Bischoff, CIO at Betfair, which also took part in the beta, added that the availability of vCHS is the next progression of automating their internal data centre.
“We hear from a lot of companies that are building private clouds, and a lot of people are buying tin and wires I think they have got the wrong end of the problem. The answer is don’t spend on tin and wires, but spend on automation and orchestration.”
“We knew something like vCHS would arrive eventually, and this is where our tin and wires will sit – not for every workload, but for the vast majority of our workloads in the future.”
VMware’s infrastructure-as-a-service offering is now widely available in the UK following a beta programme involving 100 customers announced at VMworld in Barcelona last year.