VMworld 2017: Continued Advances in Hybrid Cloud – DIY Choices

If you’re coming here first – I strongly recommend reading the “Lessons Learnt” post in this series, here.  It will help with context, and understanding your options and choices.   Also – I strongly recommend reading this “DIY” and “Consume” blog post here – it’s very useful.

Ok, with that context – lets talk about something new for us at Dell EMC – a renewed effort around supporting Hybrid Cloud DIY choices.

For Dell EMC – for the last 4 years, we’ve been maniacally focused on full turnkey cloud stacks (EHC/NHC).  I want you to internalize what that mean by that.   The Dell EMC team has taken on the mission of design/engineering, testing/validation, packaging, full lifecycle support and single support – FOR EVERYTHING.   This is analagous to what we do at the virtual infrastructure layer with CI (VxBlock) and HCI (VxRail and VxRack).

This is a material challenge.   We’ve made a ton of progress in EHC (as you can see here) and NHC (as you can see here).

That said – invariably, these cloud stacks have a couple fundamental challenges that result in them not being the right answer for every customer for these reasons:

  • Market need for a DIY approach.  Some customer want a turnkey sustained system “consume” approach at the HCI infrastructure (VxRack, VxRail) – but want to pursue a guided DIY approach for the IaaS/PaaS/CaaS layer of the stack.    This can be for very real reasons (constraints of turnkey cloud platform is not a fit, for example).
  • Component lag.  By definition – this fully engineered, sustained, supported as one approach of the Hybrid Cloud platforms lags releases of the component ingredients like vRealize, or NSX.   This is also true of the DIY vs. Consume choices at the virtual infrastructure layers (HCI) – but the lag is more material.   This isn’t because people aren’t working hard – it’s because the moving pieces are more complex, and interoperability needs work.
  • We’ve made it harder than we needed to.  It’s notable that with public cloud IaaS/PaaS/CaaS models, you can’t make a lot of choices – but they work well.   Conversely, when customers started asking for on-premises clouds, it started with a TON of variation.   We’ve learnt hard fought lessons about the price of even small variations.   It’s not a coincidence that our turnkey systems are focused on HCI going forward.   It’s not a coincidence that we support DR-as-a-service in EHC only using Recoverpoint for VMs – and not SRDF, and other forms of replication.   Variation = failure when it comes to simplicity and lifecycle management.   You need the barest minimum variation (there is a point where you don’t have enough flexibility to be compelling) – and no more.
  • “Native” Lifecycle Management is improving.   In relatively recent timeframes, there are growing “Apollo moon missions” to make LCM of the stacks easier.   This is true for IaaS (vRealize + VMware Cloud Foundation), or a PaaS (PCF + PCF Ops Manager and Ops Director) or a CaaS (like Pivotal Container Services aka PKS) has gotten a lot more focus in each company.   Historically the focus of VMware, Pivotal, Dell EMC (at least from where I sit) has been on innovation in each layer, rather than how the layers all work together and are life-cycled together.   In the Converged Platforms and Solutions team (where I work) – our whole life has been this simplification purpose, so it’s very familiar to us at every level of the stack.   But – lack of stack LCM automation meant that DIY approaches historically involve a lot of expertise – either at the customer, or via professional services from the vendor and partner ecosystem.   This is changing.

This means we can now:

  1. Create a new option – DIY Hybrid Cloud on top of turnkey “consumed” HCI VxRack SDDC systems – these are VMware Ready Systems and Pivotal Ready Systems.
  2. Continue to offer EHC and NHC for customers who want a “consumed” model for Hybrid Cloud.
  3. Work the roadmaps for VMware Ready Systems, Pivotal Ready Systems as a rally point for several key pieces: VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware’s efforts to simplify the LCM of vRealize, and Pivotal’s efforts to simplify the LCM of PCF and Pivotal Container Services.  


VMware Ready Systems are available now – their first incarnation are VxRack SDDC using VMware Cloud Foundations and the VMware Validated Design for vRealize.   We actually use the VVD program as the “base building element” for the full blown EHC – so this is a natural step.

Pivotal Ready Systems will take some time to complete, but will be ready soon.

Like all things in Dell EMC Ready Solutions – Ready is how we make things easier for the DIY customer.   Think “Redbook”.   Think Cisco Validated Design.   Think VMware Validated Design.   These are all programs and real work to de-risk customers who are taking a DIY path.

  • Ready Nodes are more than just a server + software packaged around a given workload…  it’s READY.  Tested, validated, documented – and setup for easy acquisition.
  • Ready Bundles are more than just server + network + storage + software packaged around a given workload…  it’s READY.   Tested, validated, documented – and setup for easy acquisition.
  • Ready Systems are more than just CI/HCI + software packaged around a given workload.  It’s READY.  Tested, validated, documented – and setup for easy acquisition.

Now, it’s important to understand who is responsible for what in Ready Systems – the picture looks like this:


This means there’s a very nice degree of clarity.   As is always the case with CI/HCI – the full lifecycle is the Dell EMC responsibility.   We own the VxRack SDDC and VxRail experience, with single support – for that layer.  Our job is to nail the easy simple consumption of this layer – taking the complexity and opex away from the customer.

VMware is responsible for how the customers deploy and lifecycle the vRealize Suite using the VVD program, coupled with VMware PSO and partner capabilities.

Pivotal is responsible for how the customer deploy and lifecycle of Pivotal Cloud Foundrty and Pivotal Container Services.   The lifecycle for this using PCF Ops Manager and Ops Director is improving.

Is there a “single throat to choke” like EHC/NHC?  No.  That’s what makes this a DIY path to Hybrid Cloud vs a consume path – logically it is this path:


Over time – there’s an opportunity for great simplification in new option.   You can see total Pivotal/VMware/Dell EMC alignment in VMware and Pivotal Ready Systems – RIGHT NOW.

Clearly – each party leads the efforts in their domain.  We have alignment on the full technology stack.   Unlike EHC/NHC – it has what it does in the name.   VMware.  Pivotal.   Unlike EHC/NHC – the “who does what” is clear.   Each party does their piece.   We work together to bring it together for the customer.

It will get better over time as we align work and roadmaps around this rally point.

  • Imagine that VxRail and VxRack SDDC become closer – sharing hardware variability, and a common base low-level LCM element.   At that point – we can align everything on VxRack SDDC – because there would be an easy path for customers to start with VxRail, and then move to VxRack SDDC as they wanted the on-premises foundation for a cloud.
  • Imagine if VMware cracks the code of LCM for the full vRealize Suite and it was integrated with VMware Cloud Foundation and VxRack SDDC.  That would be a huge simplification.  
  • Imagine that VMware Cloud Foundation targeted PCF and PKS as first-order use cases for the workload-domain behavior, and aligned for things PCF needs naturally, like multi-az handling (to understand this, read this post here).

If we were to do these things, we ultimately simplify this aligned technology stack – and close the gap with EHC/NHC.   At that point – they become one thing – with the simple choice of do you want multi-vendor or single vendor as your preferred acquisition and support model.  

Are we working on these things and more?  Of course 🙂

Stay tuned to this space for more about VMware Ready Systems and Pivotal Ready systems.

I’m very curious for your thoughts – the perspectives of our customers, our partners, and our VMware/Pivotal/DellEMC employees are very valuable to me. 

Do you see what we’re doing here?  

Do you get the delta in the value proposition of a Ready System relative to a Hybrid Cloud Platform?