The Whiteboard

Supercloud and the Era of Multi-Cloud Services

With a superlative like “Supercloud,” it’s no wonder this new event drew interest from across the industry, with participants like Hashicorp, Snowflake, Confluent, Databricks, and of course, VMware. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to attend and speak at theCube’s Supercloud 2022 event. I walked away from the event inspired by the earnest, forward-looking discussion around multi-cloud.

What exactly is Supercloud, and what is this event all about? Let me put it into perspective.

First, we at VMware have been talking about multi-cloud for a while now. I published some blogs summarizing our thinking about it in February of last year. The reality is that almost all businesses use multiple clouds, including both public clouds and on-premises environments. Most companies did not necessarily intend or plan to use multiple clouds, but through shadow IT or acquisitions or changing best-of-breed technologies, they inevitably end up there. While the adoption of multi-cloud initially allowed developers to build applications more quickly and deliver business value, this trend created challenges over time. Multi-cloud adopters faced issues like lack of consistency (differing APIs, services, etc.), needing to spin-up multiple teams for each cloud, needing to reimplement functionality for each cloud (e.g., security, cost management, etc.), and more. The question became – how might companies realize the benefits of multiple clouds while managing the cost and complexity of implementing such a structure?

These challenges are exactly what we’ve been thinking about for the past 18 months. On the one hand, all the native cloud services (e.g., AWS DynamoDB or Redshift) are great, and on the other hand, we have the complexities described above. What’s needed is an architecture that enables businesses to take advantage of the native cloud services they want while also delivering multi-cloud services that provide abstraction and consistency across clouds, simplifying the environment and reducing cost. But what exactly is a multi-cloud service, and what types of multi-cloud services are there? These are good questions, and I don’t think there’s industry consensus yet!

“We realize this is simply a starting point, so our goal here is to act as a catalyst for a larger industry conversation about what multi-cloud services look like and how they’re defined.”

Last year at VMworld, we announced VMware Cross-Cloud Services. Together, these services make up VMware’s robust portfolio of solutions aimed at addressing multi-cloud complexities while offering consistency and optionality. They represent the technical direction our teams have been driving towards and are an instantiation of multi-cloud services. So we took the concepts embedded in our Cross-Cloud Services and distilled them into a formal whitepaper and blog. This distillation represented a first-cut proposal for an industry-wide multi-cloud services definition and taxonomy. We realize this is simply a starting point, so our goal here is to act as a catalyst for a larger industry conversation about what multi-cloud services look like and how they’re defined. (Please read it and get back to us with feedback!)

Kit Colbert sitting on a stage at the Supercloud event, speaking with two other hosts.
Friend and colleague, Vittoria Viarengo snapped this photo of my conversation with John Furrier and David Vellante during the Supercloud 2022 event.

Now, with that context, let’s get back to the Supercloud event. It turns out that many others in the industry have been thinking along similar lines. Of course, different folks will use different terms. For example, VMware uses the term “multi-cloud services,” while theCube uses “Supercloud.” Industry terms and vocabulary will no doubt eventually align. We are at the onset of a new industry category, and the key thing here is a unified vision of what we’re all talking about. There is a recognition that all businesses are or will eventually become multi-cloud. And there is a recognition that we need an architectural approach to delivering the right types of consistency and optionality across that multiple clouds. But while we are mostly aligned at a high level, the details are still fuzzy and need to be worked out. VMware kicked off that conversation with our whitepaper and blog, and theCube picked it up and continued that exploration with the Supercloud event. I was really inspired to see so many different industry participants excited to engage on this topic and to provide their points of view.

I am confident we can collaborate as an industry and figure this out. Of course, it will take a concerted effort to get there, but I know we’ll reach a consensus. So, if you haven’t already, please check out the blogs, whitepaper, and Supercloud event videos, and then give us your thoughts and feedback on the future architecture of multi-cloud!


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