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VMblog Expert Interview: Grant Ho, CMO of CloudBolt Software, Talks Acquisition of SovLabs and the Future of Hybrid Cloud Management


This month, CloudBolt Software, an enterprise cloud management platform leader, announced that it had acquired SovLabs, an innovator of codeless integration technologies for hybrid cloud.  What does this acquisition mean for CloudBolt, its customers, and the industry in general?  And how will this affect the company's flagship cloud management platform?

To find out, VMblog spoke with Grant Ho, the chief marketing officer at CloudBolt.

VMblog:  Who is CloudBolt and what pain points does it solve for enterprise customers?

Grant Ho:  CloudBolt is an award-winning cloud management platform (CMP) that provides enterprises with visibility, automation, and governance for managing their VM-based and container-based workloads across hybrid cloud. Today, CloudBolt supports 20+ private and public cloud environments -- VMware, AWS, Azure, GCP, and many others. As a vendor in the Gartner Magic Quadrant, CloudBolt is currently deployed in the world's largest enterprises including financial services, government, healthcare, manufacturing, retail, technology, and more. 

When you think about hybrid cloud, it brings forth a new set of challenges for IT. These include lengthy private cloud provisioning times (because developers want the speed of AWS), unknown or potentially high public cloud costs, and difficulties ensuring workloads are secure and compliant, largely because of shadow IT. At CloudBolt, we solve these issues by helping IT to unify provisioning and orchestration of cloud resources--quickly, cost-effectively, and securely--while providing developers with "anywhere, anytime" access to those resources through self-service. Net-net, it's all about balancing the control that IT desires with the agility that the business demands.

For instance, one of the nation's largest home improvement retailers deployed CloudBolt to more than 3,000 of its application developers. Through CloudBolt's automation and self-service capabilities, they reduce VM provisioning times from two weeks to 20 minutes, dramatically increasing agility for DevOps. Similarly, one of the largest telecommunications companies used CloudBolt to discover idle AWS cloud instances and automatically power them down. This ultimately led to a $3 million reduction in yearly AWS fees for that company.

VMblog:  Who is SovLabs and why did you decide to acquire the company?

Ho:  SovLabs is an innovator of codeless integration technologies for hybrid cloud. Specifically, the company's technology helps enterprises using VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) replace custom orchestration workflow development with out-of-the-box software. In doing so, organizations can extend and optimize their vRA investments while avoiding the high cost and complexity of custom code and resulting technical debt. If you look at the analyst data, the cost of custom coding integrations is significant. For instance, Gartner estimates that custom integrations typically result in a 200% increase in software maintenance costs for organizations. 

SovLabs was founded in 2015 as part of Sovereign System's integration / reseller business and spun off from Sovereign in 2018. As a world-class VMware technology partner, they're a VMware Technical Alliance Partner of the Year, Global Cloud Management and Automation Partner of the Year, and hold 150+ VMware certifications in data center virtualization and automation. The company is based in Atlanta, GA with a strong presence in EMEA and APAC to serve customers globally.

One of the immediate motivations for the acquisition is to better serve the thousands of vRA customers, the category king with it comes to CMPs. Today, SovLabs has deep expertise helping vRA enterprises maximize the value of their vRA investments. With the end of general support for vRA 7.x approaching, the combination of CloudBolt and SovLabs is in a great position to help vRA customers looking to migrate to vRA 8, optimize their investment in vRA 8, or potentially, invest in complementary cloud management capabilities at CloudBolt.

VMblog:  Can you tell us a little more about SovLabs' technology or what they currently offer their customers?

Ho:  As mentioned, SovLabs eliminates the costs and headaches of custom coding using software to enable simpler, more maintainable integrations between automation tools and IT technologies. For instance, enterprises with vRA typically use SovLabs to automate VM naming standards, reduce blueprint sprawl, and integrate vRA with underlying IT tools (e.g., IPAM, DNS, networking and security, cloud backup, etc.) for IaaS delivery. All of this can be done without the need for custom code, leading to dramatically high ROI.

Take the example of a Fortune 500 health insurance company using SovLabs. They completed their vRA automation project 12 months faster than anticipated, eliminated nearly half a million dollars in professional services fees, and achieved more than a 400% ROI over three years.

More importantly, as enterprises shift to hybrid cloud, they'll continue to invest in new tools and platforms for automation. For instance, we hear a lot of customers embracing Terraform, Ansible, and Kubernetes--maximizing the automation value of these tools typically requires custom code. The great thing is that the next generation of SovLabs will work for these additional tools in addition to vRA. This enables CloudBolt with SovLabs to be in a stronger position to help enterprises on their hybrid cloud journeys, specifically by being a vendor that embraces choice and multi-tool flexibility.

VMblog:  What does this acquisition mean for your customers and prospects, and the industry in general?

Ho:  For CloudBolt customers, the acquisition is a terrific outcome. With SovLabs, we gain a deep bench of VMware expertise to better serve our customers, the vast majority of which have vSphere today; we enhance our 24x7 customer support with additional global staff; and we double our product, engineering, and customer success teams to better respond to customer needs.

Moreover, we're motivated by the desire to help customers anywhere they are in their hybrid cloud journeys with any tool that they select. For instance, we continue to see many of our customers invest in those previously mentioned automation tools, alongside their CloudBolt CMP. Thanks for this acquisition, we are now in a better position to help these enterprises. With SovLabs, customers will now be able to reduce the high cost and complexity of integrating these growing toolsets with underlying IT technologies, thereby helping maximize the success of their automation projects and meeting their digital transformation objectives more effectively.

VMblog:  What is going to happen to your flagship cloud management platform?  Will SovLabs solutions live on their own or will they be integrated into the CloudBolt platform?

Ho:  The future of the CloudBolt CMP is an exciting one as we continue to add market-leading capabilities and focus on what makes CloudBolt special -- delivering a CMP that's easy to deploy, easy to use, and easy to extend so enterprises have unparalleled time-to-value. For instance, we made huge strides in 2019 and early 2020 with our version 9 release. This included banner features like the ability to automatically deploy Kubernetes clusters and containerized applications, deep integrations with Terraform, ServiceNow, and Splunk, and multiple cost and security management enhancements for AWS, Azure, and GCP. 

As we continue to serve our customers and prospects, we'll be bringing SovLabs capabilities into our CMP to enhance our integration capabilities with a deeper set of vendors. In addition, as those enterprises expand to new automation tools like Terraform, Ansible, and Kubernetes, they will be able to use the power of SovLabs to help them reduce the complexity of custom code and ultimately, accelerate their automation projects.

VMblog:  What does the future hold for the newly reinvented CloudBolt?  What's your vision for the new decade?

Ho:  Our vision is to be the leader in cloud management, specifically by solving the various governance and automation pains that enterprises experience in hybrid cloud. We like to call this cloud management, reimagined.

When it comes to governance, it's all about providing IT with the visibility, control, and governance of their organization's resources and workloads across hybrid cloud -- something that we do very well today with our CloudBolt CMP. When it comes to automation, it's based on the view that enterprises will increasingly use automation tools of their choice. And given where many tools are today, enterprises will unfortunately face challenges around custom coding in order to maximize the automation value of those tools. This all changes with SovLabs. Through SovLabs' codeless integrations, IT teams will finally be able to publish their own services to centralize automation of their IT resources and extend them for use by multiple tools.

Ultimately, by meeting customers where they are, with whatever automation tool they are using--that's where the puck is going--we believe we are in a strong position to serve any enterprise on their hybrid cloud journeys. That is the essence of cloud management, reimagined. And we're excited to be a part of this.


Published Wednesday, June 10, 2020 7:36 AM by David Marshall
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