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VMware's big plans for vRealize hybrid cloud management

IT pros buying into the hybrid cloud model need tools to manage on-site and public-cloud resources. Surprise, surprise -- VMware has just the thing.

SAN FRANCISCO – VMware used terms like "self-healing" and "self-optimizing" to describe how it sees the future of its cloud management tools.

Hybrid cloud is central to VMware's strategy amid a changing IT landscape, and vRealize allows customers to manage not only VMware environments, but various other cloud environments, including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and OpenStack.

The company rolled out several improvements to the vRealize hybrid cloud management suite here this week but has much grander plans for the service to play a central role in IT's optimization of its infrastructure and provisioning across clouds platforms.

IT pros have to become a partner with the rest of the company's operations as technology evolves and lines of business do more with cloud, VMware said. To help in that shift the company is putting its focus with vRealize on analytics-informed and policy-driven automation to ensure service level agreements (SLAs) are met with optimized workloads.

"The dream is really there for self-healing, self-adjusting," said Jon Herlocker, vice president and CTO for the VMware management suite business unit.

VMware took small steps in that direction with updated versions of vRealize Operations and vRealize Log Insights, which provide improved insights into workload optimization and the ability to recommend the best placement for workloads.

VMware didn't give any dates as to when this self-healing service will be available, and indications were that some of this is still very much a goal as much as it is near-term capabilities.

VMware owns more than a 20% share in the emerging cloud management space, according to market research firm IDC. But the company acknowledges there are still areas that need to be improved, including a more seamless experience with the different tools in the suite, of which more than a dozen companies were acquired and incorporated into the service over the past several years.

Project Skyscraper details revealed

The other key piece the company wants to improve in 2016 is the integration of vCloud Air in vRealize. Currently customers can use vRealize to provision and deploy vCloud Air, but they cannot migrate workloads from their private cloud to vCloud Air.

 A big part of answering that was previewed in the keynote address here, where VMware executives were beaming about the tech preview of Project Skyscraper. It's a set of hybrid cloud capabilities for vSphere and eventually vRealize that extends private data centers to the public cloud with cross-cloud migration using vMotion. The idea is customers can run hybrid cloud applications to keep certain critical data on-premises while allowing other stateless aspects of an application to reside in a public cloud.

The California Natural Resources Agency runs a private cloud with 4,000 virtual machines, 2,000 applications and 11 petabytes of data. But the agency has had trouble keeping up with demand and uses vRealize as it expands outside its own data center, said Tim Garza, director of information technology.

One of the biggest challenges in managing and deploying hybrid cloud environments is not the technology, but the cultural change that has to happen within an organization, he said.

"One of the things we found out in our early adoption is we really have to change our IT operational model from vertical to horizontal," Garza said. "We have to take various business domains and tech domains and compress them down."

A big part of that change is increased automation and self-service provisioning, said Dave Bartoletti, principal analyst at Forrester Research, Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass. IT pros have to ensure that developers have a frictionless experience that keeps the monitoring and control in the background.

"The private clouds we see stall the most are the ones that only get half the way there in trying to mimic public cloud experience," Bartoletti said.

Making that change is the biggest challenge facing companies today, especially those based on developing software that helps them compete with competitors, Bartoletti said. But over time, that same need to change will have to come to all business, regardless of what they sell.

"Really, software is the fundamental way you're going to compete," Bartoletti said.

Trevor Jones is a news writer with TechTarget's data center and virtualization media group. Contact him at [email protected].

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