VMware, the company best known for virtualising servers and storage, is transitioning to a subscription service model, according to its cloud platform CTO, Kit Colbert. The move is similar to Adobe’s SaaS shift and will generate better outcomes for customers, according to Colbert.

“We absolutely are focused on moving more and more of our products to become services,” Colbert told Which-50 during the company’s VForum event in Sydney this month.

“The company has realised and heard loud and clear from our customers where they are going. We want to be able to support them in that.”

VMware cloud platform CTO, Kit Colbert.

Traditionally VMware has used licence models for its suite of virtual software and data storage products. But that model meant locking in and then renegotiating contracts. While not necessarily problematic, Colbert argues a subscription service is superior because it incentivises both VMware and its customers to produce better outcomes.

“Delivering as-a-service is just a better model and doing a subscription is also a better model,” he said.

“The fact that we’re a service and our engineers are much closer to customer experience. We know ahead of time or very proactively when there’s problems with the customer’s software. We can fix those problems proactively. We just get a better view of the customer.”

Ultimately, Colbert says, it creates a better customer experience and suits the “giant shift” away from capex to opex.

AWS partnership

The subscription model is available for VMware’s hybrid cloud solution, VMware cloud. Through a partnership with public cloud provider Amazon Web Services. The hybrid solution allows organisations to split their software defined data centres across private and public clouds, transferring workloads when necessary.

According to Colbert, the solution is an industry first and a response to customers wanting to migrate away from private data centres but still needing to retain some private clouds.

“Most customers, even though they may be evacuating one or two or however many data centres, they’re not getting rid of all their data centres. So what they see is this need to be able move workloads around.”

The hybrid cloud delivers that option in a consistent way, Colbert says, creating greater agility and optionality.

The partnership required a significant integration with AWS infrastructure and has produced engineering challenges, Colbert said.

“They’ve got a very specialised, highly scalable robust infrastructure tailored to their environments. But it’s been a great engineering partnership between both sides in terms of figuring out solutions and getting a product to market.”

The service launched in August 2017 and has been gradually rolled out across several AWS regions. Colbert says he expects VMware to partner with other public cloud providers in the future but for now the focus is firmly on AWS.

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