Q&A: Graham Crich on the vCAN partner network and delivering cloud services in a multi-cloud world

July 17, 2017

Last month, cloud services providers from across EMEA gathered at our vCAN LIVE event to discuss how they’re helping organisations across the region transform their businesses with multi-cloud services. In this article, Graham Crich, EMEA Director, Cloud and Service Provider Partners, discusses the role and value of the network and how we’re working with partners to help organisations transform their businesses across EMEA.

First things first; what is vCAN?

The vCAN – vCloud Air Network – is a global ecosystem of cloud providers, delivering cloud services based on VMware technology to organisations of all sizes and across all sectors. The network is made up of a broad range of partner companies each with a commonality: they’re largely providers that come from the managed services space and now provide external clouds for customers from within their own data centers.

We have been working with cloud partners for the last 10 years, initially deploying vSphere and vCenter to provide dedicated infrastructures for their customers. But they’ve been on our journey with us, so their approach now is far more cloud-based. Many adopted vCloud Director when it was launched to give people access to their own clouds and then we gave them the tools to access third party mega clouds to make the approach hybrid. Since then, we’ve seen increased adoption of virtualized networking and storage in NSX and vSAN as both give them the ability to on-board more customers, offering greater agility without compromising on security.

The network itself is substantial. We have more than 4,500 partners in the network globally, with 2,500 of those in EMEA alone.

What’s the main issue the vCAN helps organisations overcome?

The biggest challenge for organisations now is finding how to move faster to remain competitive. And, as that push for agility generally means transforming digitally, that is manifesting itself into a challenge for IT teams.

For many, that transformation comes in the form of creating a flexible cloud environment – from infrastructure through to the management of any endpoint device – giving them the freedom to innovate and improve responsiveness to market conditions, with greater speed in launching products and services. And to make that cloud fully-flexible? It needs to be based on a truly multi-cloud, hybrid infrastructure and has to help support each organisation’s own sector-specific challenges.

How do businesses do all that? Well, many don’t have the time or dedicated resource to do that internally as it’s such a big undertaking – both from a CapEx, OpEx and management perspective. That’s where vCAN partners come in.

So how do vCAN partners help?

The range of services offered by vCAN partners– and the different ways they can help customers – is vast. Dependent on need, our vCAN provides hosted infrastructure, desktop-as-a-service, disaster recovery and managed services.

Of course, the approach to achieving the most appropriate cloud set-up for their needs will differ based on the customer, it’s size and its industry. And our partners cater for all different types of organisations – from those that require bursts of additional resource to handle peak periods or those that need large, fully-flexible, multi-cloud, hybrid infrastructure year-round.

We’re seeing more and more of the latter, with organisations wanting the best of both worlds. That could be taking a hybrid approach with on-premise for security and off-premise, public clouds for scalability – and across several mega clouds, so staff can build and move around applications in the way that suits them best.

Our partners work closely with customers to create full, multi-cloud solutions specifically tailored to their needs, building and managing services based on their vertical market experiences and closeness to the customer and their business challenges. For example, a financial services organisation might need an agile infrastructure to help it move swiftly with market changes, but it needs to work with a partner who can ensure its environment meets strict PCI DSS compliance and industry regulation laws without fail.

And where does VMware come in?

Our vCAN partners offer VMware solutions to their customers. These solutions enable the rapid and cost-effective delivery of hybrid cloud services that organisations need to meet the above challenges. Whether infrastructure-as-a-service, disaster recovery or desktop-as-a-service, it’s all based on our technology. Service providers can benefit from decreased time to market, reduced capital investments and lower development costs, but while still offering competitive services in the cloud computing market.

We launched our Cross-Cloud architecture at the end of last year to specifically help our cloud partners support multi-cloud. It provides a seamless integration between clouds, with an easy way to run, manage, connect, and secure apps across different devices, but in a common operating environment. Cross-Cloud is brought to life through the VMware Cloud Foundation, an integrated stack that delivers enterprise-ready hybrid cloud infrastructures to organisations of any size.

Tell us about vCAN in action

Take Rackspace. One of our key global partners, Rackspace is one of the region’s largest managed cloud providers. It understands organisations just want an underlying infrastructure that will help them be as agile as possible, but while remaining secure – and don’t really care which cloud approach gets them there. For that reason, the company offers customers expertise across the world’s leading clouds – VMware, AWS, Microsoft (Azure and Hyper-V), OpenStack and Google.

While it offers access to this breadth of mega clouds, it is through VMware’s Cloud Foundation technologies such as NSX, vSAN and the vRealize Suite that Rackspace will manage its customers’ use of them. That could be through a public cloud, private cloud or hybrid approach. Rackspace will provide the best solution to the needs of their business, giving them complete agility but without them facing the expense and complexity of doing it all on their own.

How does VMware help its vCAN partners?

We want to make integrating our technologies into our partners stacks as easy as possible for them. So, apart from partners being able to contact us at any time, we’ve also created a dedicated vCloud Architecture Toolkit for Service Providers. The toolkit includes a number of self-service reference documents, all created by solution, to help enable their integration to the existing stack. They’re available in multiple languages – and have so much information to help partners on their journey with us.

 

What does the OVH acquisition mean for vCAN?

It’s still very much business as usual for all involved. OVH is one of our largest vCAN partners globally – and they’ll continue to be so. We know they’ll be a good home for vCloud Air and will offer a great customer experience to all the businesses still making use of it. All organisations on vCloud Air will continue to get access to the same services, unchanged.

What’s the future like for vCAN?

It’s certainly a bright future. The industry is very focused on cloud and mega cloud, but managed services are so important to enabling multi-cloud and, as such are growing quickly – nearly as fast as cloud technologies themselves. That’s why our vCAN partners are so important. It’s a massive market, which grew at over 40% last year.

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