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VMware reveals vSphere-as-a-service – but not the price

Cloudy vSphere+ can manage multiple on-prem environments but not VMw-powered public clouds … for now

VMware today revealed details about Project Arctic, the vSphere-as-a-service offering it teased in late 2021, though it won't discuss pricing for another month.

VMware's thinking starts with the fact that organizations are likely to run multiple instances of its vSphere and VSAN products, often in multiple locations. Managing them all centrally is not easy.

Enter vSphere+ and VSAN+, which run in the cloud and can control multiple on-premises instances of vSphere or VSAN. To make that possible, users will need to adopt the Cloud Gateway, which connects vSphere instances to a Cloud Console.

"The Cloud Console provides visibility and centralized management across all the connected vCenter environments, including vCenter lifecycle management, remediation of configuration drift, monitoring global inventory, alerts, and security posture," the folks at VMware told The Register by email.

"Customers can also provision VMs to any vSphere cluster from the Cloud Console."

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If you'd rather work with vCenter without involving Cloud Console, that's entirely possible.

The services aren't VM-centric. They'll happily let you drive VMware's Tanzu portfolio to deliver containerized apps, and VMware has talked up the Console's ability to let DevOps teams roll their own infrastructure without having to wait for ops types.

vSphere+ and VSAN+ also make it possible to apply VMware auxiliary cloud services – for now the options are DR, ransomware protection, and lifecycle management – to on-prem vSphere and VSAN without having to change anything on local hosts.

Lifecycle management is one of the service's major selling points because VMware has accelerated development of vSphere. It's now updated quarterly in its cloudy incarnation and that's translated into updates including quite substantial features (at least the updates that aren't withdrawn due to nasty bugs).

The Cloud Console cannot manage vSphere instances running in public clouds. That's an odd omission given VMware's emphasis on hybrid clouds spanning multiple environments.

Integration with public clouds is on the vSphere+ roadmap and so are more of VMware's core software-defined datacenter products such as NSX. More cloud services are also in the works.

So are prices. VMware told The Register it will reveal what this all costs "when vSphere+ and vSAN reach general availability by the end of VMware's fiscal Q2 (July 29, 2022)."

The virtualization giant said the service will be sold on subscriptions because it believes customers want the flexibility they provide and prefer opex to capex. We were also told that subscriptions also mean vSphere's procurement model will be closer to those offered by public clouds – even as they increasingly seek long-term deals with deep discounts.

vSphere+ looks like an overlay to vSphere, so may well come with additional charges. The Register's virtualization desk will be mightily surprised if VMware users' bills become smaller if they use the new services. Indeed, VMware itself has long emphasized its desire to shift to subscription sales and the lovely things that does to its bottom line and future revenue. And the potential soon-to-be-owner of VMware, Broadcom, has made "rapid transition to subscriptions" a key plank of its plan to increase revenue.

So while there are some nice elements to Project Arctic, it is right now hard to assess if they represent good value. ®

Looking for more? Check out our Blocks&Files summary of the vSAN news here, and The Next Platform's look at VMware's Project Arctic right here.

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