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Containers and integration on VMware cloud wish list

VMware's cloud strategy has its fair share of critics, but the company could change perceptions on hybrid cloud during VMworld with key improvements.

Cloud users expect VMware to roll out better integration of its products next week and to make a considerable push...

on container management.

VMware has lagged behind other public cloud vendors in the market with vCloud Air, while some critics have questioned if the rise of containers poses a real threat to the future of the virtualization giant. But next week's annual VMworld conference could be a chance for VMware to start to turn the tide on both, observers said.

In terms of VMware cloud products, expect to see different licensing models for vRealize, and it should be interesting if VMware makes any pronouncements about vCloud Air momentum, said Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst with Forrester Research, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass., who will also be speaking at the conference.

It's unclear exactly how vCloud Air is doing in the market, as the company doesn't break it out in its earnings figures. VMware did, however, say in its most recent earnings report that its hybrid cloud and software as a service (SaaS) offerings made up 6% of revenues in the second quarter, and that revenue from those services grew by more than 80% year over year. While the latter figure is comparable to the growth rate of industry leader Amazon Web Services (AWS), the revenue figures pale in comparison, with AWS raking in $1.82 billion and VMware's hybrid and SaaS offerings taking in roughly $96 million.

Though Forrester doesn't have specific numbers on market share, there has been increased interest in vCloud Air over the past year, Bartoletti said.

As IT teams, and not just developers, keep driving the move to cloud, they have strong relationships with VMware and they are willing to give VMware a seat at the table to discuss their cloud options.
Dave Bartolettiprincipal analyst, Forrester Research, Inc.

"I don't think vCloud Air today is an existential threat to the larger public cloud market, but VMware continues to have strong mindshare because as IT teams, and not just developers, keep driving the move to cloud, they have strong relationships with VMware and they are willing to give VMware a seat at the table to discuss their cloud options," Bartoletti said.

It's possible VMware will set release dates for several of its ongoing projects – Bonneville, Photon and Light Wave – during VMworld, and the company could use the showcase to explain how each fits into a unified, cloud-native application story, he added. Bonneville is the most intriguing, as it could be VMware's answer to more isolated container management on a light-weight version of Linux, akin to what Microsoft is doing with its Hyper-V Containers for Windows.

"I'll be playing close attention to container announcements – what VMware is calling cloud-native applications," Bartoletti said.

VMware has pushed hard on a hybrid cloud strategy, and expect to see that continue at VMworld, along with container news, said Mindy Cancila, research director at Gartner, Inc., based in Stamford, Conn. Like many legacy vendors, it's up to VMware to find a way to move its customer and product base to the cloud, so how it handles integration and management of its products will be critical, as will the continued improvement of vCloud Air to be more competitive with Amazon and Microsoft.

The city of Avondale, Ariz. uses vCloud Air primarily for disaster recovery and will be sending staff members to VMworld. Among the list of things the city would like to see are the ability to connect to and integrate with a larger set of partner technologies, as well as improved security features, said Rob Lloyd, Avondale CIO.

The city has asked vendors, including VMware, to deliver on containers as a means to save time and money, Lloyd said. The approach that's been suggested with Bonneville could be an attractive one because it offers better customer deployment and support, helps availability and recovery and is generally more secure, he added.

"Our team would agree that a VM is a container because we are being practical about it and thinking from the angle of how a business and team would run the system," Lloyd said. "We'll leave the computer scientists to argue the finer points, as long as we can get our jobs done and help our organization get what it needs in place."

Trevor Jones is the news writer for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at tjones@techtarget.com.

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What other vCloud improvements would you like to see?
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It's not clear what will shake out of the Virtustream / vCloud Air merging, but lots of stuff currently missing:

- S3-like Object storage (not the Google partnership)
- On-Demand Cloud Foundry
- Simplified Networking - the current vCloud model is often painful &/or broken
- Project Photon within vCloud + a Container Orchestration backend (e.g. Kubernetes or Mesos)

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