How difficult are AWS technical interviews

VMware declares war on Microsoft and AWS

With the announcement of the vCloud Hybrid Service in 2013, VMware positioned itself for the first time as a public cloud provider. How successful is this business area in terms of sales?

Fathers: In the first quarter of this year, we generated around five to six percent of our income with as-a-service offers. With annual growth rates of around 100 percent, this is the fastest growing segment in our portfolio. The share of total sales will continue to increase.

What goals is VMware pursuing with the "vCloud Air" public cloud platform?

Fathers: We wanted to establish a platform that would make a strong contribution to value for our customers. The first step was to win a few hundred so-called signature clients who can benefit from the platform to a particular extent. At the same time, we have targeted thousands of other customers who recognize the advantages of the cloud and now want to use options that are offered today in common public clouds.

How far are you with that?

Fathers: We achieved our goals and gained more than 200 signature clients, mostly larger companies, but also some medium-sized companies. These companies use vCloud Air in ways that other cloud offerings simply cannot. In addition, there are several thousand customers who use our cloud services for disaster recovery or testing purposes, for example.

How important is the German market for VMware?

Fathers: Germany is among the top five worldwide in terms of the size of the addressable market and our installed base.

One of the central features of vCloud Air is to move workloads from a private to a public cloud. How many customers are already using this option?

Fathers: All of our cloud customers use them to relocate existing workloads or to do additional tasks in the public cloud. There are also new features such as auto scaling. This means that the hypervisor provides an application with more resources on premise or from the public cloud if required.

A seamless move of virtual machines to the public cloud only works within a VMware infrastructure. Don't customers have to fear becoming even more dependent on one provider?

Fathers: Let me take a step back on that. We say: The potential benefits of the cloud are huge for all companies. If you use cloud services for your applications or your infrastructure, you can, for example, bring products to market faster, increase customer satisfaction and much more. A number of companies are in the process of transferring existing applications to a cloud infrastructure. After a few years they start to rewrite their applications so that they are more "cloud-enabled" or can better use the advantages of the cloud model. Our strategy is to speed up this process so that customers can enjoy the benefits much faster. You can transfer your applications to our cloud infrastructure without any modifications, be it a private or a public cloud. This distinguishes VMware from all other cloud providers.

VMware entered the cloud market late, but could benefit from the company's large installed base in competition. On the other hand, the same applies to the big rival Microsoft. How do you position yourself against Microsoft and the rapidly growing Azure portfolio?

Fathers: I don't spend time looking at Amazon Web Services or Azure. Much more important is that we have identified a unique opportunity for ourselves: We enable companies to transfer their applications to a cloud environment while continuing to use existing management, network and security tools. This creates a single large resource pool within which you can modernize your applications in the next step. From a technical point of view, the hypervisor is the best conceivable control instance for this.

Roger that. But what exactly is the difference to Microsoft and Amazon?

Fathers: Microsoft and Amazon have slightly different design priorities: Microsoft focuses on its own application stack in its development. AWS focuses on new applications and a whole range of related services to attract customers to its own platform. VMware, on the other hand, behaves absolutely neutrally at this point, regardless of whether it is about Oracle, Microsoft or Google applications. We want to be something like Switzerland within Europe.

TecChannel and Computerwoche are currently working on a cloud readiness study. The aim is to find out what is preventing German companies from going into the cloud. Where do you see the biggest obstacles for VMware customers?

Fathers: In my opinion, for example, there is often a lack of the necessary skills.

What kind of skills do you mean?

Fathers: It starts with operating skills with regard to the cloud platform. It cannot be compared with the operation of a static in-house infrastructure, where applications are updated perhaps once a year. When it comes to the cloud infrastructure, the update cycles are now in the range of twelve hours, and applications are updated more or less permanently.

How important is the location of the data center?

Fathers: For some companies it is very important. For this reason, VMware opened a data center in Frankfurt for its public cloud in March. If a customer insists on keeping their data exclusively in Germany, we can guarantee that. He can choose where the data will be saved with a click of the mouse.

Despite the cloud offensive, VMware's core product is still vSphere. In the virtualization market, however, the bare hypervisor is increasingly developing into a commodity product. How does VMware intend to maintain its growth rates in this environment?

Fathers: First of all, of course, we would never say that hypervisors are a commodity. We are continuing to work on adding more features and services to our hypervisor. This includes, for example, the support of new technologies such as containers or OpenStack. On the other hand, we generate less than 30 or 40 percent of our revenue with the pure hypervisor. We have diversified strongly and are also addressing areas such as management, network, storage or mobile device management through the AirWatch takeover. So at least 50 to 60 percent of our sales do not come from the hypervisor business.

The cloud management and automation tools segment is highly competitive. Many new startups such as SaltStack or powerful supporters of the open source system OpenStack make life difficult for you.

Fathers: In which of our markets is there no tough competition? Let's remember the hypervisor market. When Microsoft announced that it would bring its own hypervisor, one heard in many places: This is the end of VMware. Then came KVM and again you heard: This is the end.

Functionally, Hyper-V has made up a lot of ground. Microsoft is aggressively entering the market and attracting customers with free support and know-how. How do you react to that?

Fathers: Frankly, I think we won this battle long ago. The next battle will revolve around the cloud. And here we make it clear to the customer what value it has to use our hypervisor in the cloud as well. It's all about this. If you use a vSphere-based cloud, you don't have to change your applications and you can simply extend your existing network infrastructure into the cloud.

Quite a few large companies certainly have the resources to, for example, manage an OpenStack project and then build a cloud infrastructure based on their ideas. There would not even be license fees for this. What speaks against it?

Fathers: We now have our own OpenStack distribution in our portfolio. VMware customers who have developed several different management and orchestration stacks can now also use OpenStack and use the same resource pool. In general, however, many customers tell me that it takes considerable financial and time resources to build their own OpenStack-based private cloud. The projects usually take much longer than planned and also cost more. The benefits for the business are likely to be very limited in the end. In addition: In contrast to the private cloud market, OpenStack hardly plays a role in the public cloud. I believe that companies should use the same technology for private and public clouds in order to remain flexible. Otherwise the whole construct becomes very complex and requires a lot of integration work. (wh)

  1. Development of the cloud models in Germany
    In the report "The Private & Hosted Private Cloud Market in Germany, 2013-2018" IDC examines the development of cloud models in Germany. The study is based on information from around 200 companies that are at least considering using the cloud.
  2. Private cloud ahead
    Those who opt for the cloud usually rely on a private cloud. IDC analyst Matthias Kraus attributes this primarily to security considerations.
  3. Market shares
    The market volume for building private clouds in Germany in 2013 was more than 700 million euros. 42 percent of the money went into services, 37 percent into hardware and 22 percent into software.
  4. CIOs in the rain
    For Kraus, whoever ultimately makes the decision about the path to the cloud is an indicator of the respective corporate culture. According to his observation, one thing is certain: management and specialist departments are exerting more and more pressure on IT decision-makers. You still keep an eye on costs and at the same time demand that IT support business processes flexibly and promote business innovations.
  5. Matthias Kraus, Research Analyst at IDC
    IDC analyst Matthias Kraus expects more and more companies to open up to a mix of different cloud models. If the data center of a provider is in Germany, local contract law applies. That also calms the subjective feeling of security, says Kraus.