Aug 31 2017

VMworld 2017: How Cloud Tools Can Give Small Businesses Valuable Insight

Small IT teams can use cloud services to cooperate better, save money and free up time to focus on innovation, a VMware executive says.

VMware works with some of the largest companies in the world, including Accenture, Coca-Cola, Nike and Symantec. Yet the company has a message for its small and medium-sized business customers: We haven’t forgotten about you, and our cloud services are great for you too.

Chris Wolf, CTO of global field and industry at VMware, told BizTech at the VMworld 2017 conference in Las Vegas that the company’s new cloud services are “pretty compelling” for SMBs because they are “challenged to do a lot with a very small number of resources.” At the same time, to grow, they must have the look and feel of a large enterprise, he says, which “compels them to use a variety of cloud services to give them greater business agility.”

VMware argues that its cloud services and approach to software-defined data centers will give SMBs more insight into their data and cloud applications, allowing them to save money, enhance collaboration among members of small IT teams and free up time to focus on growing their business.

How Cloud Services Can Benefit Small Businesses

Small businesses have the same kind of cloud operational challenges that larger businesses do, Wolf says, and can benefit from VMware’s new cloud services just as enterprises can. They want to have consistent network and security policies and want to keep costs low.

VMware’s Cost Insight, a new cost monitoring and optimization service for public and private clouds, can help IT teams analyze cloud expenditures, find savings and communicate the cost of cloud services to the business, he says.

SMBs are very cost-sensitive, Wolf notes. “And because of that, I want to make sure that where I am running my workloads is best for business’s bottom line,” he says.

Another new tool that will be particularly useful to small businesses is Discovery, Wolf says. Discovery is an automated inventory service that improves IT teams’ visibility into their cloud operations and helps reduce shadow IT by bringing together inventory and account information from multiple clouds. This allows IT teams to easily search for and identify workloads the company has deployed.

“Say I have a small business and I have one IT operations person, which is not unheard of in the SMB space,” Wolf says. “I might have a couple of software engineers who are trying to provision cloud services natively.”

The Discovery tool, Wolf says, allows the operations team member to proactively find new native cloud services and partner with developers to put VMware’s NSX network virtualization and security agent onto those workloads to bring them into compliance from a security perspective.

“I like that approach, because it’s no longer about operations trying to necessarily dictate a particular behavior to the software developers,” Wolf adds. “It’s about, ‘Hey, I want to give you a lot of flexibility, but it’s also still my job to keep the business safe, so let’s partner together here.’”

Freeing Up Small Business IT Teams’ Time

The challenge that the SMBs have, Wolf says, is “still the pressure to be very lean and agile and innovative.”

VMware has “a lot of smaller commercial customers” that sit on the company’s customer advisory board for that reason, he says, “to make sure that we don’t have engineering blind spots to what’s happening in this space.”

One way VMware is trying to meet the needs of SMBs is through its Cloud Foundation platform, which serves as the company’s unified software-defined data center platform for private and public clouds. Cloud Foundation brings together VMware vSphere (compute), vSAN (storage) and NSX (network) virtualization into a natively integrated stack through automation and lifecycle management capabilities in the company’s SDDC Manager.

The platform effectively turns a company’s infrastructure deployment and lifecycle management into a feature of software, Wolf says.

“Just for any organization, small or big, to plan and execute an infrastructure upgrade can be a pretty significant undertaking,” he says. “And the fact that we can deliver this as an integrated platform with automated lifecycle management is very compelling for the small business, because that does free their time to focus more on innovation and differentiation.”

Read more articles and check out videos from BizTech coverage of VMworld 2017 here

alvarez/Getty Images

Learn from Your Peers

What can you glean about security from other IT pros? Check out new CDW research and insight from our experts.