Cloud Field Day – VMware

I will be a delegate for Cloud Field Day 5 on April 10-12. During the event we will be attending presentations from several vendors, which will be livestreamed. Before I leave on this grand adventure, I wanted to familiarize myself with each of the presenters and consider how their product/solution integrates with cloud computing. I’m also interested to hear from you about what questions you might have for each vendor, or topics you’d like me to bring up. As a delegate, I am meant to represent the larger IT community, so I want to know what you think! In this post I am going to consider VMware and what they’re doing with AWS.

Almost two years ago I wrote a post called “VMware on AWS – You’re doing it wrong.” If you don’t want to read the whole thing, then I would boil the central thesis down to this:

If you’re going to make a move to AWS, you’re better off learning and adopting their native service than running a more expensive service that is less flexible.

I stand behind that statement. In an ideal world, IT Ops would adopt the new tools and services in AWS and developers would migrate their applications to AWS by leveraging cloud-native services. When I wrote the post, I was deep in the midst of coming up with new solutions for my company to offer. I had read all about 12-Factor Apps and really believed that refusing to adopt the cloud was patently ridiculous. When you first learn about something, it can take a while to synthesize that information into a cogent philosophy. And there’s also a tendency to try and apply your new knowledge to every solution. Here I was, diving into the awesomeness of cloud, becoming an evangelist, and not taking a hard look at the actual world we live in.

Since that time, my views have mellowed. Part of that is due to the failure of the first few product offerings I came up with. Here I was, coming up with these fantastic, strategic solutions that would empower my clients to move forward and advanced their cloud adoption process. It was manifestly obvious why they should engage with my group immediately. Our solution was just that good. And then… we consistently failed to sell that solution. In a vacuum, on paper, in a perfect world, my idea made total sense. Once that idea had to interact with the real world things rapidly deteriorated.

Back to VMware on AWS (VMC). In an ideal world, this solution would not exist. It doesn’t make sense from a financial perspective. It’s really no different than a hosted colo. Your team is going to have to work with AWS anyway. There are so many reasons that VMC didn’t make sense. Yet 18 months later, it is still chugging along. Growing in fact. So what gives?

VMC is not an ideal solution, but it is a viable solution for many organizations. Because those organizations don’t live in an ideal world. In the real world you have a procurement department that is used to dealing with VMware as an approved vendor. Updating your enterprise agreement to include VMC could be an easier solution than trying to get a new vendor added to the approved list. It’s not efficient or elegant, or even cost effective, but it IS politically expedient. And that will trump all the rest of those reasons if you’re working for a large corporation where politics are the motivating factor for most of middle management, instead of saving money or cutting costs.

Then there’s the training issue. Your IT Ops folks have been honing their skills on VMware for the last decade. In an ideal world they would rapidly learn how to manage AWS resources. But in the real world, IT Ops folks are overworked and might balk at the idea of learning yet another technology when there is an alternative that allows them to keep using the skills and processes that already exists. There’s also an added benefit here, since VMC is a managed solution, the admin burden for IT Ops might lessen post-adoption. Thus, those overworked IT Ops folks might actually have time to learn about AWS.

Migration is also a potential friction point. In an ideal world, if you had to do a lift-and-shift migration, you would use something like Cloudamize to migrate your VM workloads to EC2. Lift-and-shift by itself is already a sub-optimal approach, but it also can be a necessary step in your cloud journey. In the real world, moving VMs to EC2 can be tricky. There are unsupported configurations (clusters come to mind), VMs using FT, and a need to re-IP Address the workloads moving. Seriously, I have seem migrations grind to a halt because some application’s IP addressing could not change. That’s reality. And VMC removes a lot of those concerns by enabling a straight-up VMotion to the cloud without changing network addressing.

I guess what I am saying is that when it comes to using VMware on AWS, you’re still doing it wrong, and that might be alright.

For Cloud Field Day, most of the questions I have for VMware revolve around their plans to support hybrid cloud workloads. Here’s a few things I want to know:

  • What is the roadmap for NSX-V and NSX-T? Are they going to be merged?
  • What’s going on with VMware on AWS Outposts? How will this integrate with VMC, the AWS Console, and existing on-premises VMware installations?
  • What is VMware’s container strategy going forward? It’s been a little spray-and-pray up to this point.
  • How is VMC going to continue to integrate AWS services?
  • Whatever happened to the rumors about VMware on Azure?

Do you questions for VMware you’d like me to ask? LMK!

One thought on “Cloud Field Day – VMware

  1. Hey Ned,

    Thanks for attending CFD5. Appreciated the great engaging energy in the room from you and all of the delegates. Very interested to hear if we made any dent or impression of VMware Cloud on AWS…either way. Always great to understand all of the varying positions of folks like yourself.

    Roger Fortier

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