Extending your managed services to customer data centers through VCPP

VMware Cloud Provider Managed Services

Today, we’re going to explore one of the least know opportunities about the VMware Cloud Provider Program (VCPP): the ability for cloud providers to extend their managed services to customer’s data centers using VCPP points and products; whether for simple data center modernization, hybrid cloud build out, or cloud repatriation.

VMware has been talking about data center modernization as one of our core strategic IT priorities for a number of years, but much of the market hype and focus has been on public cloud and hyperscale solutions. IDC reported some interesting stats recently that I felt addressed an interesting shift; increased cloud repatriation to private cloud. During this blog, I will explain how our Partners can take advantage of the program benefits to meet this new repatriation drive and support customers who want to modernize their data center environments.

Firstly, the stats that caught my eye: 2018 IDC’s Cloud Repatriation Accelerates in a multi-cloud world # US44185818 reported that most customers reported cloud repatriation activities, a small percentage of which planning to repatriate to an on-premises, non-cloud environment and approximately half to repatriate to an on-premises, private cloud environment. Equally a large share plan to repatriate to a hosted private cloud environment providing significant opportunity for Managed Service Providers hosted private clouds between 2019 to 2022.

Whether it’s cloud repatriation or modernizing data centers, private clouds are growing in popularity. So how do you, a VMware Cloud Provider, meet the customers’ needs for private cloud with a flexible portfolio of consumption aligned cloud services to allow the enterprise to grow and innovate? Including automated minimized delivery costs and risk reduction? Provide cross-cloud / multi-cloud standardized operational model processes and solutions to provide longevity for new service development?

All realities need assessment

Let’s take a typical customer profile – a customer who has lots of infrastructure already and wants to modernize their data center to move to a private cloud environment to meet the business needs. In reality the data center is typically a hyper complicated technological and commercial beast. Technologies will typically be extremely varied, having grown organically with new buying decisions and differing architectural views and capabilities. Commercially the data center is full of contracts, all renewing and existing at differing times, some in support, some out of support, some never used ‘shelf ware’ some mission critical, all most likely on differing unit metrics.

VMware Cloud Provider Partners can immediately run an assessment of the current datacenter to fund out exactly what they are taking on. VMware Cloud Provider Platform provides an Acceleration Kit for this Assessment Service. Providers can deploy vRealize Operations (vSphere Optimization Assessment) and Network Insight (Virtual Network Assessment) for free for 60 days, connect them to the vCenter environments and obtain automatic reports on the capacity, status, performance and security posture of the data center infrastructure.

Level setting the playing field

“So now we know what we are dealing with…..”

The next stage is to modernize their data center and deliver a new private cloud solution. This could be done a number of ways; hyper-converged hardware and software, Hyper-converged software or a DIY cloud software stack. This typically takes time and may involve new hardware. However, in the meantime you a VMware Cloud Provider can manage their existing data center infrastructure as a service using VCPP points (requiring usage meter), your software and processes.

“Hang on – did you say I can manage the customer’s existing solution using VCPP points?”

“Erm yes”, as per the VCPP Product User Guide:

“Except as expressly approved by VMware in writing, Service Providers may install software only on hardware systems that are (a) owned or leased by Service Provider for its dedicated use, or owned or leased by the End User for the Service Provider’s dedicated use, and (b) located either within datacenter space owned or leased by Service Provider or on an End User’s premises solely to provide Hosted IT Services to the End User, provided that the Service Provider maintains day-to-day management and administrative control of the systems.”

If your customer has hardware and wants you to deploy your VMware management software and licensing from now on, all licensing is covered by VCPP as long as the provider manages the solution for them – ie provides a managed service into/on the customer infrastructure. I would just qualify that if a customer does this then they get nothing back for their licenses, they are essentially writing these off. The VCPP partner would then deploy new license keys and meter the estate. This is good for the customer, as they can now move on with their business and not the distraction of managing their infrastructure.

Now back to the private cloud build.

Building for a cloud future

There are many choices available, all can be managed on customer premise with VCPP points if it’s a managed service! The core question is whether hardware is needed, resulting in architecting a solution or managing in-situ. With the managing in-situ with VCPP points already discussed, what are the options to architect a new solution? Possibly the easiest is to use our Cloud Provider Pod to build a cloud to your specification, producing the following advantages:

  • Utilize existing (supported) hardware and optionally benefit from software defined storage (provided by vSAN, to move away from the complex LUN storage management)
  • Gain access to vCloud Director and the tenancy models, fully integrated self-service compute, network and security solutions as well as extensibility and 3rd party solutions.
  • Run a common operational model in provider data center and on a customer premise, as a service, using the same solution tooling and processes available.
  • Coming soon; multi-site visibility and multi-site management and day 2 operations in Cloud Provider Pod, it makes absolute sense to get to speed now with Cloud Provider Pod and vCloud Director 9.5 or beyond.

It’s about delivery

So now you have the opportunity to deliver a repeatable private cloud environment to your customers in their premise or in yours as a hosted solution. How do we get the workloads onboard? As previously mentioned, customer data centers or other outsourced environments could be very varied in vSphere versions and typically providers will want to upgrade the vSphere versions to their standards to ensure security and stability as the customer on boards. This is known as staging and requires creating or using an existing ‘staging cluster’ to copy customers workloads into and upgrade before migrating to your cloud. This can be expensive and is usually done by change control out of hours, impacting your ‘time to revenue’ to onboard the customer fast.

“How can VMware help onboard faster and minimise or negate staging?”

Within the VMware Cloud Provider Program, we have a number of solutions for onboarding, whether you wish to do ‘cold’ or ‘warm’ migrations with our vCloud Extender solution – included free within vCloud Director, or you wish to use a premium solution like Hybrid Cloud Extender (HCX) which can provide ‘hot’ migration and complete workload mobility.

For non-critical migrations of small data volumes vCloud Extender customers can drive their own cold or warm migrations using a vCenter plugin, to a target Virtual Data Center (VDC) in the vCloud Director environment.

For critical and larger data volumes we recommend VMware HCX.  HCX has some great advantages and some considerations for example, HCX can upgrade the virtual hardware of the virtual machine to the highest supported version of the target vSphere ESXi server automatically during migration. It can also initiate an update of the VMware Tools on next boot of the virtual machine, removing the need for staging. HCX uses compression and deduplication, therefore greatly accelerates transfer rates and entire data center migrations. HCX is really designed for large scale ‘hybrid’ solutions, although it naturally can be used for migration, it offers complete hybridity for workloads.

HCX is available at a per VM cost, through our MSP program, as well with Hybrid Cloud Bundle. HCX will work with vCloud Director environments or native vCenter. The value of negating staging gives faster time to revenue and seamless simplicity will reduce total cost and time for migration.

Final thoughts

Hopefully this blog has explained how VMware Cloud Providers can manage the customer on-premise opportunity, either a customer’s in situ environment or to a new private cloud using the current VCPP contractual capabilities and some exciting technologies. The value for the provider is very clear; engage the customer on their terms, get to revenue faster and provide a more sustainable service. The value for customers is also a big consideration; as most are looking to achieve a cloud commercial model rather perpetual renewals and data center refresh CapEx costs. As a provider if you can manage their infrastructure immediately then take the time suitable to their needs and their business to minimize impacts of a transition – that is a more preferable route than the business trying to support their own solutions and manage a faster transition.

So if you are not familiar with the VCPP program, download the guide from Partner Central and learn about the VCPP program usage and products we have discussed today from VMware HCX to vCloud Extender. If you have any questions about this post please leave a comment or contact us directly by emailing vcpp_gtm@vmware.com.