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VMware's Bitnami buy targets multi-cloud deployments

VMware has inked a deal to buy Bitnami, maker of a catalog that vets and packages up popular software, such as MySQL, for quick, secure multi-cloud deployments.

VMware will bolster its hand in hybrid and multi-cloud deployments with the planned acquisition of Bitnami, which offers a catalog of applications and technology stacks packaged for rapid deployment across multiple environments.

Bitnami's packages include many popular open source programs, such as MySQL and Redis, as well as CI/CD tools, like Jenkins and GitLab. They are prescanned for security issues, tested for performance and otherwise vetted to be published within an enterprise's private repositories.

Once there, customers can fine-tune the packages for their needs, and these customizations are carried forward as Bitnami applies updates to the core software.

Packages are available for multi-cloud deployments in multiple forms, including VMs, Docker containers and Kubernetes via Helm Charts. Many Bitnami packages also have the option to install on Windows, Mac and Linux machines. Moreover, last year, Bitnami rolled out Stacksmith, a SaaS tool to package up applications.

Meanwhile, VMware continues to position itself as a strategic middleman for enterprises interested in multi-cloud deployments. It offers VMware Cloud Foundation, a bundle of software for compute, network and storage that can be run on premises or in various clouds, as well as CloudHealth for multi-cloud service management and monitoring.

There's a lot of this cloud-native development where people want quick access to open source packages.
Gary ChenAnalyst, IDC

VMware has also embraced Kubernetes on several fronts. It inked a high-profile partnership with AWS in 2017 to deliver its software there and forged a similar deal with Microsoft for Azure in April 2019. The company also acquired Heptio in 2018 in a bid to tie Kubernetes into customers' vSphere infrastructures.

With Bitnami, VMware's goal is to make it simpler for application builders to utilize open source software applications and frameworks, according to a VMware blog post. "Our goal will be to provide equivalency, not abstraction, across the different cloud platforms," wrote Milin Desai, general manager of cloud services, and Paul Fazzone, general manager of cloud-native applications.

VMware's Bitnami intentions also involve a channel strategy to help independent software vendors port their SaaS applications to multiple clouds and marketplaces, according to the execs. Once the deal closes, Bitnami will remain cloud provider-agnostic, VMware pledged.

Terms of the pending Bitnami acquisition weren't disclosed. It competes with companies such as ElasticBox, which CenturyLink acquired in 2016.

VMware's Bitnami move seen as pragmatic

Gary ChenGary Chen

Over time, it's not a stretch to imagine Bitnami becomes the foundation for a larger VMware marketplace, said Gary Chen, analyst with IDC.

Marketplaces are far from a new idea in enterprise software. And there may not be anything technically dazzling in what Bitnami does, but there is another issue in play for VMware.

"It's really more about how you can get ubiquity," Chen said. "It's a powerful position to be the distribution point for software. You can't be a cloud without a marketplace, because you'd have a platform with no content."

Bitnami's capabilities will appeal to a certain segment of VMware's installed base of enterprise customers, Chen added. "As they move to more modern environments, a lot of the workflows are through these catalogs and marketplaces," he said. "The key part is that there's a lot of this cloud-native development where people want quick access to open source packages. This really appeals to more modern parts of enterprises that are doing cutting-edge things."

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