VMware, at VMworld 2018 this week, advanced an ambitious campaign to automate IT management by announcing a deal to acquire CloudHealth Technologies and then previewing a Project Magna initiative that employs machine learning algorithms and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) to create what VMware describes as self-driven data centers.
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger told conference attendees that, as part of achieving that goal in the era of the cloud, every aspect of IT now needs to be automated.
“The rule of the cloud is to ruthlessly automate everything,” he said.
Project Magna represents an effort to centralize AI research and development to enable IT organizations to reallocate resources to building applications by eliminating many of the manual tasks that conspire to make IT inflexible.
At the same time, increased levels of automation will serve to reduce the cost of labor associated with managing IT, which remains the single highest cost within most IT budgets. Without increased levels of automation, those costs inevitably will rise as IT organizations embrace not only public clouds but also emerging new platforms such as Kubernetes.
Gelsinger this week made it clear VMware views being able to automate the management of Kubernetes as an opportunity to expand the reach and scope of its management offerings.
The addition of CloudHealth Technologies to the VMware portfolio adds a cloud operations platform that spans Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Once the acquisition is formally closed, VMware has pledged to integrate its cloud automation services, Secure State and Wavefront cloud services with the CloudHealth platform. The CloudHealth platform will be rebranded VMware Cloud Operations. Those moves come on the heels of a significant expansion of the portfolio of DevOps tools the company also announced this week.
VMware also revealed its is working on the Dimension project with Dell EMC and Lenovo, which will create a hyperconverged architecture optimized for deployment at the network edge. Project Dimension will make use of VMware NSX network virtualization software and the software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) platform gained by the company’s acquisition of VeloCloud to connect servers running at the network edge. That initiative complements the existing Pulse project for managing internet of things (IoT) devices, for which VMware announced REST application programming interface (API) support and which will be available as an on-premises or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application.
VMware this week also unveiled updates to updates to its vRealize automation portfolio that enable organizations to rightsize workflows and automate host-based placement of those workloads. The core vRealize Automation platform also sports a new user interface and integration with open source Ansible Tower automation software and integration with Pivotal Container Service (PKS), an instance of Kubernetes. Version 7.5 of vRealize Automation 7.5 also features enhanced AWS and Azure support.
It’s unclear to what degree increased automation will transform how IT is managed within the context of modern DevOps processes. But the one thing that is clear is the economics of IT are being altered. Via automation VMware is sharply reducing the need for IT specialists in favor of “super” administrators capable of managing compute, storage, networking and security at unprecedented levels of scale in a much more integrated fashion. How much of that will be accomplished by AI is still anyone’s guess. But it’s already clear the job of the average IT administrator will soon be transformed utterly.