Whatever your opinion is of IBM Cloud, the company has made tangible strides to provide a compelling hybrid cloud strategy for the enterprise. Several analysts even recently acknowledged IBM leadership in this area. Based on the recent announcement with VMware, you’ll understand why existing VMware clients are pretty excited about IBM Cloud’s hybrid strategy.
The announcement notes that SoftLayer provides the capability to create secure and flexible VMware environments on top of IBM’s public cloud—now with expanded (and cost-effective) capabilities. These capabilities allow existing VMware customers to:
- “Lift and shift” (read: extend) existing VMware workloads to the public cloud with the associated benefits (secure, compliant, global, OPEX, and so on)
- Take advantage of existing VMware skills, assets, and processes (scripts, VMware admins, virtual machine templates, and so on)
- Transition to the public cloud and flexible hybrid environments with minimal disruption
Figure 1: High-level architectural components (new components are in orange)
IBM Cloud encompasses a much larger scope that includes native SoftLayer and open source options, Bluemix/PaaS, as well as extensive cloud solutions and services.
The following are VMware-related FAQs, in addition to the ones you can find on KnowledgeLayer:
Why can’t I do “lift and shift” on other cloud platforms, e.g., AWS or Microsoft Azure?
In simple terms, you’ll need access to the virtualization host in order to “fully” operate your VMware environment (as you’d be used to it from your own data center). Neither AWS nor Azure allows you this level of control; they also run different hypervisors. SoftLayer allows you to deploy and manage physical hosts in addition to standard virtual servers.
Why would I do “lift and shift” on SoftLayer and not on VMware’s own public cloud?
Performing the extension on SoftLayer lets you:
- Choose from 28 data centers in 14 countries
- Take advantage of SoftLayer’s unmetered private network
- Have “full control” beyond what is specifically exposed as a “service” in vCloud (there is no access to the physical ESX hosts).
So what’s new with SoftLayer and VMware?
SoftLayer customers have deployed vSphere and vCenter on the SoftLayer cloud for some time. From personal experience, the most frequently requested additional capabilities are:
- Ability to deploy “other” VMware components (like SRM for disaster recovery or NSX to take advantage of software-defined networking)
- Make it cheaper and easier to deploy
Figure 2: VMware products available to order in the SoftLayer customer portal
IBM and VMware responded by introducing the following on SoftLayer:
- New, socket-based licensing for $85 per socket per month for Enterprise Plus (includes subscription and service)
- Selection from the “full SDDC” portfolio, including:
- Virtual SAN Standard and Advanced
- NSX Enterprise (software-defined networking)
- Site Recovery Manager (DR)
- vRealize Automation Enterprise (cloud automation)
- VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO)
- vSphere E+ and vCenter Server (standard & appliance)
- Coming soon: Horizon Suite (VDI), which was recently announced
How do I get started?
With the latest portfolio enhancements, several new assets were published (in conjunction with plans to provide automated deployments and additional services going forward). Here’s my top list:
- VMware SDDC on SoftLayer, Reference Architecture: This is a comprehensive (140 pages) “Certified Partner Architecture” document that outlines everything from building block configurations over sizing to NSX and vRealize design
- VMware on SoftLayer channel enablement webinar
- How to: Order VMware Licenses
- Storage Options for VMware on SoftLayer
- Long Distance VMotion on SoftLayer video
- Get familiar with and use the certified reference design (sounds logical, but I can’t stress it enough)
- Make sure you pick from the documented building blocks (ensures the use of certified components like the appropriate RAID controller for VSAN, and so on)
- Keep in mind that SoftLayer is a “self-service” IaaS platform—make sure you involve a partner with good VMware skills or secure appropriate services for such a project, especially if it’s complex
- Evaluate all SoftLayer options, e.g., “standard” virtual servers might be a better option for new, cloud-enabled workloads