VMware is looking to the cloud, and boosting its data center footprint in the process. It's a shift that goes all the way down to the company's business DNA, which has traditionally been as a packaged software company.
“Our second DNA is we will become a cloud service provider,” said Angelos Kottas, Director of Product Marketing, Hybrid Cloud Services for VMware. “We won’t get out of selling package software, but our first and primary route will become as-a-service delivery. The reason for this is that we can rapidly iterate technology. We don’t have annual or semi-annual release cycles this way. It also means that we will provide all of our offerings as a "for rent" option. It will extend to all services. There will be a key hook into the storage and availability portfolio. A cloud destination will be default for backup and disaster recovery."
VMware's focus is on hybrid deployments – not necessarily the mixing of on-premises and cloud, but providing customers the choice and flexibility to deploy how they want, whether it be on-premise or in the cloud.
The company has largely been known for targeting the large enterprise, but Kottas says that's a misperception. “For the IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service), we actually see the highest level of maturity happening in the mid market and commercial segment,” said Kottas. “I don’t mean the SOHO (Single Office/Home Office), but when you get into the mid market. To begin with, 5-10 virtual machines is the typical norm. Most customers don’t go all-in at once.”
More Cloud = More Data Centers
The company will most likely rely heavily on multi-tenant data center providers to expand its as-a-service offerings, much as it has done so far. “We are not at a scale where we buy or build our own data centers,” said Kottas. “Today our objective is not to drive down cost to operate. Our objective is to grow rapidly.”
VMware has been relying on multi-tenant data center providers to extend its "as a service" offerings and VMware vCloud. The initial infrastructure was based in Las Vegas at the Switch SuperNAP facility. Everything was done out of Las Vegas up until general availability, which was launched in mid-2013. The company added data center space in Virginia and Santa Clara to cover the coasts, as well as Dallas to cover the middle part of the country. The first international expansion was in Slough, UK in February.
The VMware vCloud IaaS offering is in five data centers today, with five more announced. There’s a second UK facility and a second New Jersey data center expected this quarter. A data center in Chicago is expected later in the year.
The company is also going after government FedRAMP business and plans to open an additional two data centers dedicated to government needs: one in Virginia and one in Phoenix. The company has partnered with data center service providers who are strong in the federal space to address these needs (companies like Carpathia and CenturyLink).
“We filed with the government at the tail end of February and we anticipate achieving FedRAMP in the 2nd half of 2014,” said Kottas. The company isn’t sticking to one provider, but rather picking the right fit depending on its needs.
VMware has also indicated its intentions at broader international expansion. France, Germany, Japan and Australia are all in the cross-hairs. “In 2015, we’ll continue to look at expansion,” said Kottas.
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) seems to be the last bastion of the cloud transition. VMware is placing a heavy stake in the space.
DaaS is not a new idea; arguably, thin clients were the exact same concept, but those went out of vogue. However, the changing face of the workforce and the increasing outsourced nature of IT has DaaS positioned well for a large number of companies. Employees more frequently work remotely, the devices they use are growing more diverse. Say a company wants to get a set of contractors up and running quickly, DaaS is ideal for this. It helps with companies with compliance issues, or those that want to limit a subset of workers to certain functions.
Like the IaaS service, DaaS is gaining the most traction amongst the mid-market. “We’re seeing DaaS succeed in the mid market as well,” said Danny Allan, Senior Director of EUC at VMware'. “It’s being adopted a lot in higher education, and State and local organizations where they have high degrees of concurrency. Healthcare is another good vertical.”
Allan was previously CTO of Desktone, the foundation for VMware’s DaaS offering. He doesn’t envision the entire world moving to desktops as a service, but says it’s a growing demand. “There’s been a huge inbound of requests,” said Allan.
“The VMware position in general is the hybrid choice is a strategic imperative,” said Allan. “The fact that we can offer both form factors allows customers to choose to adopt cloud, or on-premises as needed.”
Amazon Web Services recently entered the virtual desktop arena, raising the profile for Desktops as a Service. How does VMware stack up competitively? “It’s great that Amazon has come into the market and validated it a bit,” said Allan. “In terms of hybrid, the model that users want to choose is not just server based desktops. One of the ways we differentiate is that we develop the right workspace. It’s important not to restrict users into a single type of OS or Workspace. We believe in the flexibility of choice. Most organizations do not say ‘I’ll give the same type of desktop to everyone’."
DaaS hasn’t been deployed out of all data centers just yet, but Allan envisions a CDN type approach to distributing. “We have CDN (Content Delivery Network) – we’re looking at DDN, Desktop Distribution Network,” said Allan. “Anywhere you are, you can consume the service. We support multi-data centers, we’re deployed in multiple data centers. But some of those nodes could be the customer site. Maybe the best place to reach DaaS is at the server closet at work, and at home, maybe it’s the data center.”