Kathy Gibson reports from VMworld 2016 in Barcelona – The data centre has seen a lot of changes since VMware first commercialised virtualisation just a few years ago – and now the many benefits associated with those changes can be felt in the cloud as well.

Virtualising the x86 server made such a massive difference to how data centres ran, their cost and manageability it was almost inevitable that virtualisation was extended to embrace storage and the networking environment as well. And now VMware is moving to virtualise the cloud too.

This is the central message from VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, speaking in a media briefing this morning following the launch of the company’s Cross-Cloud Architecture.

“We have a view that we are virtualising the whole data centre,” he says. “And now, with the introduction of cross-cloud services, we are virtualising clouds too.”

The move has been largely driven by customers, who expect solutions to make their chosen deployment models work. “We have to do more in terms of integrating our products better,” says Gelsinger.

The reality is that many company’s on-premise data centres run on VMware solutions, and CIOs expect the same functionality when they break out into the cloud.

“We want to be on as many clouds as possible,” Gelsinger says. “If there are non-vSphere clouds around the world, they may require some integration to make them work, but this will be based on the need and availability.

“However, the proliferation of vCloud networks will let us offer a very broad set of cross-cloud services straight away.”

A very significant move was last week’s announcement that VMware and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have signed a strategic alliance to build and deliver a seamlessly integrated hybrid cloud offering.

Through the partnership, customers will be able to leverage a full software-defined data centre (SDDC) with VMware running on the AWS public cloud.

VMware Cloud on AWS will enable users to run applications across VMware vSphere-based private, public, and hybrid cloud environments.

Delivered, sold, and supported by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable service, it will allow VMware customers to use their existing VMware software and tools to leverage AWS’s global footprint and breadth of services, including storage, databases, analytics and more.

Mike Clayville, vice-president: worldwide commercial sales at AWS, believes this relationship will help to break down a lot of barriers to cloud adoption.

“A lot of customers want to leverage the rich set of tools that they have in place, a preponderance of them from VMware.”

By offering VMware Cloud on AWS, companies will be able to leverage the skills they already have in-house, Clayville says.

“Functionality is also an important part of it: the ability of the platform itself to run seamlessly in the public cloud. It will also allow users to leverage the capabilities of the public cloud inside the traditional on-premise private cloud.”

The announcement has been well received by customers, Gelsinger adds, and he believes it will prove beneficial for the cloud market on the whole.

“When you make it easier for customers to go forward with less risk, less cost and more flexibility it’s good.

“We believe this will accelerate cloud adoption, because we making it easier for IT and business units to use the cloud.

“We think the AWS partnership will open up new abilities that customers probably haven’t thought about yet.”