The race to lay a robust foundation for hybrid cloud computing is likely to be determined by which vendor ultimately puts the most comprehensive stack of software in place across multiple clouds. Today most IT organizations are managing on-premises and public cloud computing environments in isolation. This means that each platform has its own set of management and security tools that need to be mastered. Plus moving application workloads from one environment to another requires them to be refactored by application developers in way that creates considerable expense.

The four leading approaches to creating a truly seamless hybrid cloud computing environment right now are to make instances of VMware software available on multiple clouds; implement the same instance of a distribution of OpenStack both on-premises and in the cloud; deploy instances of Microsoft Azure on-premises in form of an Azure Stack platform; or wait for instances of the Kubernetes cloud orchestration framework to mature.

The latter two options have material disadvantages. TheAzure Stack requires high-end servers to be acquired and Kubernetes is optimized for only cloud-native applications based on containers. OpenStack, meanwhile, requires organizations to first implement and master a larger, still maturing open source management framework.  In contrast, a VMware stack that combines compute, storage, and network virtualization can be deployed on-premises as well as in a public cloud using a management construct many internal IT organizations already know. Because of the familiarity VMware now enjoys the inside track when it comes to hybrid cloud computing within many IT organizations.

NSX network virtualization software is a key element to being able to run the VMware stack anywhere. And when combined with VMware vSphere and VMware vSAN software, NSX can be deployed on bare metal IT infrastructure from, for example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or an IBM Cloud. Alternatively, NSX can now also be invoked as software-as-service (SaaS) cloud framework that can be used in conjunction with other stacks of software initially on an AWS cloud. That VMware NSX Cloud service makes it possible to have one common network overlay across both public clouds and on premises running the same core network virtualization software. In fact, at the recent VMware World 2017 conference Matt Nikolaiev, senior director and head of cloud infrastructure for Sysco, said that NSX is core to the food distributor’s plan to implement a common management platform across public and private clouds.

A new survey of 500 IT decision makers conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Virtustream, a cloud service unit of Dell Technologies that also owns VMware, highlights the challenges Sysco and other IT organizations now face. The survey found that 44 percent of workloads have now moved to a public cloud. In two years a total of 62 percent of workloads are expected to be running in public cloud. That means that in addition to workloads being distributed across multiple public clouds, at least 38 percent of workloads will still be running on premises.

Because IT environments are becoming more distributed, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said NSX is now more strategic to the future of VMware than the VMware vSphere platform on which the company was originally built.

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