VMware Customers Weigh In On Cross-Cloud, vCloudAir

As VMworld 2016 opens in Las Vegas, customers have sharp opinions on VMware's commitment to the public cloud.

Charles Babcock

August 30, 2016

3 Min Read
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Customers welcomed VMware's goal of managing deployments to multiple cloud providers, called VMware Cross-Cloud Services. However, these same users were more skeptical than ever about VMware's own public cloud, vCloud Air.

"Skeee-oouu," said a director of IT at a major mid-Atlantic state university, making a down-the-chute motion to indicate what he thought of the prospects for vCloud Air, after a morning keynote at VMworld, which is taking place this week in Las Vegas. The same talk on Aug. 29 featured a new partnership with IBM to provide integrated VMware cloud services from the IBM Cloud (SoftLayer).

Many VMware customers became more pessimistic about vCloud Air's prospects after the departure last April of Bill Fathers, its senior VP and general manager upon launch in 2013.

The customer, like other users contacted in the hallways of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, at the breakfast table, in the lunch line, and on the commuter bus to the MGM Grand, declined to be identified since their organization had a policy that requires public comments be submitted to the law office for review.

VMware officials explained from the podium that vCloud Air will continue to exist and those using it will be supported.

However, the same customer who sees vCloud Air's decline also predicted that there will be limited uptake of the offering in VMware data centers. There will be more interest, he said, in the VMware alternative, specifically a vCloud Foundation, or an integrated set of vSphere virtual compute, VSAN virtual storage, and NSX virtual networking that is being offered in IBM SoftLayer data centers.

As if to emphasize the primacy of the IBM public cloud, VMware executives said that the vCloud Foundation will be generally available from VMware and on vCloud Air in the fourth quarter of this year, but it will be generally available from IBM on Sept. 1 -- a quarter earlier.

"You could tell even last year that VMware was taking the emphasis off vCloud Air," said another customer, a systems integrator from the MidWest, in VMworld's opening day lunch line at Mandalay Bay.

VMworld in 2013 and 2014 heavily featured vCloud Air. By 2015, it had faded more into the background as containers in virtual machines and other subjects came to the fore at the San Francisco event that year.

Ajay Patel, VMware's cloud services senior VP of product development, said "the same level of engineering commitment" was going into vCloud Air, but not the same rate of capital investment. VCloud Air is hosted in seven VMware data centers -- five in North America and two in Europe -- but that number is no long being increased.

"We've capped the capital investment, but we're not capping the innovation," he said in an interview at VMworld. VMware made a decision that it must not compete with its 4,200 partners, who also wish to offer vCloud Foundation services, and it "decided to create a level playing field." The vCloud Air team, with its expansion funds cut back, decided to compete with its strengths in migration and integration of workloads into the cloud.

The customers who discussed the new vCloud Foundation services said they will appeal to existing vCloud Air customers to find the best solution.

Read the rest of this article on InformationWeek.

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