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AWS poster child picks VMware DevOps tools

Several enterprises -- including a famous AWS early adopter -- say they're moving to VMware tools for DevOps, despite the challenges of managing their own back ends.

LAS VEGAS -- One of Amazon Web Services' most famous cloud-native customers is moving some of its apps into four new self-owned data centers as a VMware DevOps adherent.

Airbnb Inc., the San Francisco-based accommodations placement startup, was born in the cloud on AWS, but it is moving some of its custom video and voice apps to data centers it built from the ground up in the last six months, the company revealed in a public session at VMworld here this week.

Airbnb's lead IT architect, Jason Galanter, joined IT pros from Symantec and Mitre onstage in a VMware DevOps customer panel, and he said the company is "diversifying backward" by bringing those apps out, compared with moving apps into the public cloud, like most of the industry.

"Public cloud is not ideal for that," Galanter said, speaking of the company's voice and video apps during the session. "We're migrating those resources to an environment where we have more control over quality."

Also, the promise by public cloud to lower operational costs "hasn't really materialized for anybody that I'm aware of," he said.

We're migrating those resources to an environment where we have more control over quality.
Jason Galanterlead IT architect, Airbnb

Managing its own back end for the first time has presented challenges for Airbnb, such as the reduced capabilities of on-premises management and automation tools compared to the advanced automation possible in the cloud.

"There's more maturity in what you can allow developers to do in cloud-based tools," Galanter said. "Our developers are rather spoiled."

Ultimately, "nirvana is a seamless environment" between private and public clouds, he added, saying better tools should also help with the decision about where to deploy. He did not specify which VMware tools were in use at the company.

Galanter was not alone among a surprising number of large enterprises that popped up at VMworld expressing interest in VMware DevOps tools. VMware vCloud Director was the choice for two audience members in the session, who spoke up to say they identified with Galanter.

IT pros from other enterprises -- Palo Alto, Calif., biotechnology company Varian Medical Systems Inc. and Las Vegas-based casino gaming company Scientific Games Corp. -- said they'd been VMware customers since before the vendor's Lab Manager product was replaced with vCloud Director more than five years ago. VMware has ended support and availability of vCloud Director for nonservice providers, but Varian has a service provider version, according to its virtualization engineer, Jason Greenback.

Using vCloud Director allows both companies to manage resources at the team level, as well as create and break down infrastructure silos and sandboxes at will. Though, an attempt to move to VMware's unified cloud management tool, vRealize Automation, given the vCloud Director end of life, "is giving me some real serious heartburn," said Mike Owens, senior systems architect for Scientific Games.

Another enterprise company, Indian telecom Bharti Airtel, is about halfway through a DevOps adoption project with VMware as a partner.

VMware may not be the first name associated with DevOps tools, but Bharti Airtel's global chief architect, Campbell McClean, said it's a good business partner that has put all hands on deck to service a big-fish customer.

"They [would] fail with us, and probably have problems on the entire continent," if VMware doesn't deliver on its promises, he said. "They must continue to innovate."

One area where McClean said he'd like to see new products from VMware is in data virtualization, where he could get an overview of his company's data, where it's stored, where it should be stored, how old it is, when it needs to be deleted and which data can be removed.

Some startup companies in Silicon Valley that McClean has recently met with are working on this problem, "but nobody's really cracked it yet," he said.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization media group. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.

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