VMware's chief theme at its VMworld conference in Copenhagen centred on cloud computing being here to stay. The virtualisation giant said it represents the future of enterprise IT service delivery, whether this is achieved with a private internal cloud or from public cloud infrastructure, or possibly even a combination of the two – so-called hybrid clouds.
However, if customers are to avoid cloud computing turning into the next vendor lock-in, organisations need to have the freedom to choose those services and providers that best fit their requirements, something that VMware chief Paul Maritz touched on in his closing keynote, when he discussed the company's open-source Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service (PaaS) project.
Another aspect of being able to pick and choose the cloud services you want is interoperability, especially when it comes to using a hybrid cloud strategy to expand IT out to a public cloud if necessary, such as to meet seasonal peaks in demand for compute capacity.
Rob Smoot, director of product marketing at VMware, said that IT is evolving to be more than just a provider of services and will in future be more of a broker of services, offering a portfolio that will cover SaaS applications, with renting and outsourcing of entire services out to third parties.
"We recognise this, so what we want to do is provide a management portfolio that is designed for this new cloud model, which is fundamentally different in that the ownership model is changing and IT's role is changing," he said.
Among the initiatives VMware has already announced to address this is Global Connect, which aims to build up a global network of service providers and make it easier for customers to find cloud services offered by them, connect to them and manage them.
However, it is still early days for this kind of model, and issues such as ensuring that service levels are met for key workloads largely still have to be ironed out, as Smoot admitted, but he claimed that the vSphere cloud platform provides some measure of service level assurance for what's running above it.
"With vCloud Director, you can do multi-tenancy and have different classes of infrastructure and configurations based on what level of services you want. You can then wrap certain service level requirements around it, which you can do as part of vApp, and vSphere will enforce those," he said.
VMware's vApp enables an IT department to encapsulate all the components of a multi-tier application, which may consist of one or more virtual machines, into a self-contained package that can be moved around.
All of this largely assumes that customers and the external cloud they are connecting to are both using infrastructure based on vSphere, however. What happens if an organisation wants to sign up with a service provider operating a cloud based on a different platform?
Smoot claimed that this should not be a problem, because the vApp container is based on the industry standard open virtualisation format (OVF), and that other cloud platforms have APIs in place with similar capabilities to those offered by VMware's vCloud APIs.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago