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IBM-VMware partner to streamline move to hybrid clouds

IBM- VMware partnership looks to streamline VMware environments for the hybrid cloud. Users are hopeful but adopt a wait-and-see attitude.

LAS VEGAS – Moving on-premises workloads to the cloud might get a little easier.

IBM and VMware have forged a partnership, which the companies say can make it happen.

The deal, announced here at InterConnect, is designed to allow users to extend their existing workloads from their on-premises data center to IBM's SoftLayer cloud.

The partnership could help enterprises move to the public cloud, said Luke Percario, systems architect at Wells Fargo in San Francisco.

While Wells Fargo hasn't moved to the public cloud yet, it is currently evaluating the use of private cloud with a hybrid approach.

"It definitely could make things easier for us to deploy both inside and outside," Percario said.

The partnership offers many of the typical public cloud benefits, including making the cost an operational expense, said Rich Ehrhardt, senior architect at IBM. It is best for workloads that come up once a year, such as disaster recovery or development, he said.

"This is your cloud being extended into public cloud," he said. "You don't pay for it when you are not using it."

It could replace tape backup or manual systems to move virtual machines (VMs) to the public cloud.

"There isn't a need for any third party system," he said. "You don't need to use migration tools, you just move the VM to where you need it."

The VMware factor

By implementing common VMware models, users have control over security and have native compliance, Ehrhardt said.

Ehrhardt demonstrated how a legacy application running on a VM can be moved closer to a client. The goal was to move it from Amsterdam, where ping times were 113 milliseconds, to Dallas. Throughout the process, the IP address stayed the same using software-defined networking and there was no outage from the user's perspective. It can all be done on the high-speed backbone of SoftLayer, which has 49 data centers worldwide.

Ehrhardt used vCenter, selected Virtual SAN storage, and chose  a folder and networking to put it on-- when it was done the ping time was down to 2 milliseconds.

"This is a full VMware software-defined data center built on SoftLayer," he said.

The SoftLayer portal has thousands of choices, according to Chris Moss, senior pattern automation architect at IBM. That won't be the case for VMware users moving over their workloads; it will go to validated, preset hardware that is provisioned.

"We do take the choice away from you -- but we also take away the complexity," Moss said.

On SoftLayer, users will have a number of VMware software components including vSphere with NSX and VSAN with vCenter managing it and vRealize Automation, orchestration and operation.

"You get the software installed and configured in a way VMware has pre-approved," he said. "We're picking up a virtual machine and putting it where you need it. "Deploying and managing environments on SoftLayer will be the same with vRealize Automation and vCenter management tools as an on-premises data center. 

Automation patterns, including open patterns and patterns specifically developed for this offering, will also be made available.

The partnership raises a new consideration for Carlos Sanchez, a system administrator at Texas Mutual Insurance Co. in Austin, Texas.

Some of his company's business processes have moved to the cloud using software as a service, including human resource functions, and he also uses VMware extensively in Texas Mutual's  data center, where he wants to reduce the amount of hardware.

"VMware and the cloud with IBM – we had not really thought of that angle," he said. "VMware introduces some new possibilities to move some of that hardware to the cloud."

Sanchez said he expects to see more integration between the public cloud and on-premises applications at Texas Mutual.

"It looks promising, but we would need to look at it further," he said about the IBM-VMware partnership.

The capabilities are available now and will be jointly marketed and sold. Pricing was not disclosed.

Robert Gates is a news reporter with TechTarget. Contact him at rgates@techtarget.com

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