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VMware brings the steak – without the sizzle

This blog post is part of our Essential Guide: VMworld 2016 conference coverage

LAS VEGAS — There have been some years at VMware’s annual VMworld conference where the company sold more sizzle than steak when introducing new technologies and their associated roadmaps. At this year’s show here this week, the company had some steak to work with — but forgot the sizzle.

After a few dismal attempts to break into the hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) market with lackluster offerings including EVO:RAIL and EVO:RACK, VMware delivered a better idea with VMware Cloud Foundation.

In a nutshell, VMware Cloud Foundations combines the company’s HCI software, vSphere and VSAN, with its increasingly popular NSX networking software. The company also will offer the bundled technology as a new as-a-service offering — finally — and users can download the software to any hardware platform of their choosing.

While users can still get the VMware Cloud Foundation bundled with the hardware of qualified hardware manufacturers, some conference attendees liked the option of purchasing just the software from VMware and installing it themselves.

“It’s a smarter move for a couple of reasons,” said Bill Hewitt, a systems administrator with a Phoenix-based financial investment company. First, it could keep costs down “by keeping it out of the hands of server companies who tend to tack on added costs,” he said. Additionally, “it also allows us to tune it to the platform of our choice.”

Cloud Foundation also includes VMware SDDC Manager, which helps both users and service providers automate the deployment and management of VMware’s entire cloud stack.

The primary functions of the offering are to give cloud operators a tool to deploy, configure, patch and upgrade the entire system including NSX, VSAN and vCenter ESX. It can also automate the deployment of products such as Horizon and vRealize, according to Ajay Patel, senior vice president and general manager of VMware’s cloud provider software business unit.

“We see this [VMware Cloud Foundation] as the next-generation hyper-converged infrastructure for building private and hybrid clouds,” Patel said. “And by adding NSX [with VMware Cloud Foundation], we not only deliver a hyper-converged architecture but a lot of agile network management and micro-segmentation.”

While some attendees liked the story they heard, they were left wanting for more details on how some of the technology worked that would result in complete hyper-converged package to make it easier to launch private and hybrid clouds.

“It’s a better story I heard from them this year about how hyper-converged could help me launch and manage a cloud environments,” said one CTO with a mid-size Los Angeles-based credit union. However, “I need them to better explain the aspects of micro-segmentation [in NSX] and how that helps me stand up [a cloud environment] that gives me the agility they are talking about.”

“They did a good job with the soup-to-nuts thing of explaining how [VMware Cloud Foundation] plays into the HCI systems, but they needed to spend more time on the newer automation software under the covers,” said an IT manager with a Phoenix-based transportation company. “They could have had more clarity and energy to the presentation, which was a little too slick.”

Ed Scannell is a senior executive editor with TechTarget. Contact him at escannell@techtarget.com

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