Are there realistic alternatives to VMware?

Michelle Yakura - June 16, 2022
vmware alternatives

If you are a VMware shop, and you’ve been thinking about how Broadcom’s offer to acquire VMware might affect your business, you may have been wondering whether any realistic alternatives to VMware exist in the market.

Only time will tell whether the acquisition actually happens, and what the ramifications will be if the deal goes through. Many analysts see negative implications for existing customers based on Broadcom’s history of rightsizing companies it acquires, including LSI, Brocade, CA Technologies and Symantec. With the probability of a Broadcom takeover happening in July, here are five fundamental questions that VMware shops need to ask right now.

What are your criteria for virtualization solutions?

You’ve invested a big chunk of your IT budget in VMware products and services for years. After some of Broadcom’s acquisitions, customers experienced negative changes in pricing, contracts, support quality, and product innovation. Think about your core business objectives and the benefits you, your tenants and end customers get from VMware. What are your critical success factors and KPIs? Also look at your company roadmap. What benefits will you need in the future as you scale your infrastructure, and tenants and use cases evolve?

What are your minimum criteria for retaining VMware as a vendor? Quantitative criteria might include availability rates, delivery lead time, mean time to recovery, deployment frequency, change failure rate, or maximum price per node. You might also have qualitative criteria such as fair sales tactics, hardware/software compatibility, or specific types of contracts. Similarly, what are deal breakers that would compel you to move to another vendor? What are your current pain points and operational issues?

How locked in are you?

The real question here is: If VMware makes changes to their offerings, and you decide it’s better to migrate some or all of your workloads to another infrastructure vendor, would you be able to? What is your level of exposure to VMware? How many workloads do you have in production on VMware infrastructure? And it’s not just the software stack — how deeply in bed are you with VMware methodologies? Do you have any dependencies or contractual obligations that prevent you from migrating?

Keep in mind that VMware customers have been migrating to other infrastructure solutions for a decade. If you decide you want to migrate, there are many services and tools available to assist, and an expert can help assess your IT infrastructure, processes, and level of workload mobility.

What alternatives are available?

There are two primary alternatives for virtualization: proprietary and open source. Proprietary virtualization vendors have similar high licensing fees and vendor lock-in as VMware. Open source alternatives offer flexibility and a wide range of support options that enable you to move fast and cater to your unique needs.

For an enterprise-grade solution to virtualized workloads, the chief alternative to VMware is OpenStack, the most widely deployed open source cloud software in the world. Adopted by industry leaders like Adobe, Booking.com, Inmarsat, NVIDIA, and Walmart Labs, OpenStack has evolved over the past 12 years to become a mature technology that offers close to feature parity with VMware. It also dramatically reduces the total cost per CPU and eliminates vendor lock-in. Thanks to recent innovations in containerizing OpenStack, the infrastructure-as-a-service platform is now easy to configure, scale, and upgrade.

Economic and societal challenges are also pushing organizations everywhere to modernize their applications and start adopting containers and microservices. Container adoption and Kubernetes have officially gone mainstream, and many VMware shops are going cloud native to benefit from greater efficiency, scalability, and resiliency. Containers are also greatly advantageous for supporting new use cases like edge computing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

In terms of delivery of OpenStack and Kubernetes, there are also different options to choose from — ranging from DIY, to enterprise support to managed services — depending on how much you want to keep operations in-house vs. outsourced.

When considering your choices, you want to look at a vendor that can support you through the transition and help you to operate the new environment, freeing up valuable time for your team to focus on what drives value for your business rather than looking after infrastructure.

What steps are needed to migrate from VMware to other providers?

The typical process of migrating from VMware to OpenStack or other infrastructure solutions involves the following steps:

  1. Assess your workloads

  2. Migrate images

  3. Create or migrate tenants, users, security groups, and networks

  4. Migrate VMs and volumes

  5. Test that everything is working correctly

  6. Flip the switch to production

Virtualized workload migration is no longer as difficult as it was in the past, and most major infrastructure vendors offer migration services. Mirantis can work closely with your organization’s key stakeholders to provide an Architecture Design Assessment that delivers an architecture workshop (including operational readiness assessment) and design documentation, including a Technical Design for MVP, customized Architecture Review, and Cloud Passport. Often it’s possible to migrate using your existing hardware.

Of course you’ll also need to transition people, workflows, and processes. If you want to keep operations in house, you’ll need to provide technical training for your team. Otherwise you can leverage a wide variety of managed services available in the market for open source technologies and best practices.

Something to consider when looking at a migration is whether you want to move some of your applications from monolithic to microservices to gain the advantages of reduced infrastructure resources and increased modernization through containerized solutions like Kubernetes. The typical steps for the application layer include the following:

  1. Define boundaries

  2. Identify coupling

  3. Move to Remote Procedure Call (RPC)

  4. Define data ownership

  5. Implement asynchronous messaging

Learn more in our blog, Moving to Cloud Native.

If you expect to have mixed workloads of virtualized and containerized applications, you may want to consider a multi-cluster platform that can support infrastructure for both. For example, Mirantis Container Cloud is a multi-cloud platform that provides one pane of glass and full DevOps portability for both containerized and virtualized applications. You can use it to distribute workloads between multiple infrastructure providers, including vSphere, AWS, Azure, OpenStack, and Equinix Metal.

Is it time to future proof your infrastructure?

Software innovation is core to your company’s success, and it depends on efficient management of IT infrastructure. Traditional virtualization has been great, but software has evolved, and so has infrastructure. To stay competitive now and in the future, many companies are strategically adopting open source cloud innovation, which they view as necessary to not only accelerate their pace of software delivery, but also to retain the most talented engineers, who want to work with the most innovative tools and technologies.

Migration is never easy, and you’ll need to address changes in people, processes, and technology. Again, VMware shops have been migrating to open cloud solutions for many years, and there are numerous services and tools to help. For example, besides the Architecture Design Assessment, Mirantis also offer services such as 24x7 enterprise support, DevOps as a Service, and Mirantis Flow, a complete data center as a service based on open source cloud native technologies that guarantees up to 99.99% availability SLA and the first container or VM provisioned within 48 hours of Mirantis accessing your hardware.

A critical juncture for VMware customers

Ultimately, what’s most important right now with Broadcom’s possible takeover are risk mitigation and business continuity for your organization. As you weigh your options, now is the time to rethink your enterprise IT strategy and assess what you, your tenants, and end customers truly need. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic was a crucial juncture for many businesses to start their digital transformation, the looming VMware acquisition may also be your opportunity to make vital changes your organization needs for long-term success.

To learn more about open source services and solutions from Mirantis, contact us.