On the heels of IBM announcing its intent to acquire Red Hat, VMware announced at the VMworld Europe 2018 conference this week an extension of its longstanding cloud alliance with IBM.
Red Hat competes directly with VMware; yet, there are also more than 1,600 customers running VMware on the IBM cloud. Ajay Patel, senior vice president of product development for cloud services, said VMware remains committed to the IBM cloud alliance even while its relationship with Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to expand.
VMware and IBM jointly announced this week they have opened Joint Innovation Lab and that IBM Cloud Private Hosted can now be installed on VMware vCenter Server on IBM Cloud. In addition, IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions are now integrated with the IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service. IBM is also adding support for VMware NSX-T Data Center to provide VMware customers with access to a network virtualization (NV) overlay on IBM Cloud.
In addition, VMware vRealize Operations automation software is now available on IBM Power Systems, and VMware will use the IBM Watson cognitive computing platform within VMware customer support portals.
Despite the obvious tension between VMware and Red Hat and IBM and AWS, Patel noted that VMware has more customers running on the IBM cloud service than any other cloud environment. In addition, IBM, VMware and Red Hat all are committed to advancing Kubernetes. Point of fact: VMware, separately at the conference, announced its plans to acquire Heptio, a provider of management tools for Kubernetes and added support for Kubernetes running on top of VMware virtual machines in version 3.5 of VMware Cloud Foundation.
VMware, via its alliance with IBM, is making a case for enabling customers to run stateless components of an application on Kubernetes, while maintaining stateful components such as databases on virtual machines, which provide better support for persistent storage.
IBM said it intends to treat Red Hat as an independent subsidiary capable of making independent alliances, in much the same way VMware operates as an independent unit of Dell Technologies. It may take a while for IT organizations to get used to navigating strange-bedfellow relationships in the era of the cloud; for example, Red Hat has an extensive relationship with Microsoft that spans both Microsoft Azure and on-premises IT environments.
What remains to be seen is the degree to which DevOps teams will navigate conflicting vendor alliances in isolation from one another instead of trying to unify the management of all those clouds under a common framework. A recent IDC report finds that while most customers (64 percent) are employing multiple clouds, the degree to which those clouds are interoperate varies widely. IDC finds that only 24 percent of IT organizations have a high degree of interoperability between their cloud environments. Another 40 percent say they have achieved low interoperability between their clouds. Only 7 percent say they have a true hybrid cloud in place.
As the number of organizations with hybrid cloud capabilities starts to increase, the next battle in the cloud won’t be focused on what platforms are employed as much as what management plane might be employed to unify them all.