Adopting the Cloud Model: Running Data Centers Like Clouds


Kit Colbert, CTO, Cloud Platform Business Unit, VMware

Cloud computing defines the way we listen to music, commute, run applications and collaborate at work. Next, the cloud is redefining how we run data centers. 

On-premises infrastructure influenced much of the initial innovation in the public and private cloud. Now, cloud models shape innovation happening in the data center, says Kit Colbert, chief technology officer of VMware’s Cloud Platform Business Unit. 

We’ve seen so much innovation in the cloud in recent years. How is this innovation influencing the data center? 

Colbert: The cloud really has come a long way. It’s no longer just a place. It’s a model. As a model, there’s an opportunity to bring all the benefits of the public cloud to the on-premises data center or wherever workloads exist.  

We’ve seen businesses drive tremendous agility in the cloud, but due to a variety of reasons, some workloads still need to stay on premises (either in the data center or at the edge)Now, it’s possible to get the best of both worlds: the agility, the cost efficiency and the simplicity of the cloud in addition to the control, security and compliance of on-premises infrastructure.  

What does it mean to deliver a cloud-like experience on premises?  

Colbert: Traditionally, organizations, and even managed service providers, operate the on-premises data center with human-based interactions, like ticketing systems. What if IT could programmatically interact with and manage their on-premises infrastructure, instead, like the cloud?  

For example, with our new VMware Cloud on Dell EMC cloud service, our customers will be able to programmatically manage their on-premises infrastructure through a cloud portal and APIs. VMware Cloud on Dell EMC consists of the full VMware SDDC with Dell EMC VxRail hyper-converged infrastructure.  The key difference from previous products from us is that we’re not delivering this as a true cloud service.  It’s still very early, but I think that we’re going to see this model used more and more.  

How does VMware Cloud on Dell EMC differ from traditional data center offerings? 

Colbert: VMware Cloud on Dell EMC requires a much deeper integration between software and hardware, which we haven’t seen before in the data center. Of course, software is always developed and tested to be compatible with the underlying hardware, but we’re talking about is a much tighter integration. 

We want to make sure that we can understand what’s happening at the hardware layer so we can correlate with issues happening at the software layer. With that end-to-end picture, out of the box, in many cases VMware Cloud on Dell EMC will be able to proactively identify and correct issues without the customer taking any action. 

This unprecedented integration is a testament to the strength of the partnership between VMware and Dell EMC. But it’s only the beginning of what we introduced as Project Dimension during VMworld 2018. We’ll look across our large, diverse hardware ecosystem to expand this cloud model onpremises. 

What’s driving this new approach? What does this solve for IT and the business? 

Colbert: Every few years, organizations need to refresh their data center or edge infrastructure. As they do so, they want to modernizestrategically align with business objectives and take advantage of all the new technologies available.  

This cloud model represents a huge opportunity to fundamentally transform on-premises infrastructure with all the benefits of cloud, including the agility to support and secure both existing and new applications in the data center and at the edge.  

And speaking of edge computing, we’re going to see a much greater need for solutions there over the next few years. Companies increasingly leverage Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications as part of their digital transformation. They need a robust infrastructure to run those applications and quickly process all of that data at the edge, instead of sending it to a clouddue to bandwidth or latency constraints. 

What steps should CIOs take to prepare for such radical changes in data center operations?  

Colbert: I recommend customers first familiarize themselves with the cloud model.  The easiest way for customers to get started with cloud is VMware Cloud on AWS, our hybrid cloud solution for extending on-premises environments to the cloud. It’s the same interface and workflows as our customers’ on-existing premises infrastructure. As IT gets acclimated to that experience and proves out their use cases, they can then extend it back onpremises with this new cloud model. 

IT will be able to take advantage of all the same benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS with VMware Cloud on Dell EMC. We saw companies seamlessly migrate hundreds of workloads in days onto VMware Cloud on AWS. Now, they’ll be able to do the same back onto the data center. We learned how to optimize and manage VMware Cloud on AWS at scale, in regions around the world. Now, we’re ready to scale this cloud model across data centers and edge locations around the world. We know how to help businesses move faster with the speed and efficiency of VMware Cloud on AWS. Now, we’re ready to help them gain agility on premises with VMware Cloud on Dell EMC.  

As companies take a cloud-like approach to managing their data center, how does this shift IT’s role and the skills workers need? 

Colbert: This is a huge opportunity for IT professionals tfocus on tasks that drive innovation and differentiate the business.  

Today, organizations spend a lot of time fixing, upgrading and monitoring the underlying IT infrastructureBut infrastructure alone doesn’t differentiate a business. Customers don’t see that. They see applications.  

It’s not the best use of IT’s valuable expertise and capabilities to manage the infrastructure. Given the opportunity, IT could do so much more and be a force multiplier for the business. With the VMware Cloud on Dell EMC approach, IT can shift focus to higher value projects, like applications, while relying on VMware to deliver the infrastructure necessary to run these applications as best as possible.