By Laura Ortman: VP and GM, vCloud Air – Cloud Services at VMware

VMworld 2016 has been nothing short of amazing and we’re only two days in! On Monday we made several exciting announcements around Hybrid Cloud Manager, Hybrid DMZ and Identity Federation support. Each of these enhancements speak directly to the challenges customers have expressed to me and we’re excited to roll out solutions to address them. One customer who came to us in need of a solution for their business pain points is Zebra Technologies.

Zebra Technologies builds solutions that identify, track and manage critical assets, people, and transactions. By doing so, Zebra creates a digital footprint allowing their customers clear visibility into their business.  A critical factor in Zebra’s success is the IT infrastructure that supports all the products and services offered to customers.

Zebra Technologies is one of many customers at VMworld sharing stories of impressive IT transformation with VMware – theirs is a story of thinking fast, thinking big and executing with vCloud Air, a public cloud that enables the benefits of hybrid cloud.

In 2014, Zebra Technologies acquired part of Motorola Solutions’ Enterprise business for $3.45 billion. The merger quadrupled the size of Zebra’s organization, tacking on an additional 4,500 employees and 700 business applications overnight. It also added a massive legacy hosting expense until Zebra’s newly-purchased products were vacated from Motorola data centers.

At the time of the merger, Zebra was already looking for larger locations for internal production workloads in their North American data center. The sudden influx of Motorola business applications complicated matters. The fact that Zebra didn’t know how the new business applications were used, how large they were or what their hosting requirements posed a serious logistical challenge, even for a company that builds logistical solutions.

Luckily, Zebra had something critical going for them: they were familiar with VMware virtualization. Prior to the merger, Zebra had virtualized their server environment on the VMware vSphere platform. This experience gave them the insight they needed when it came time to build out a migration plan for the acquired assets.  They realized they could move the applications from Motorola’s data centers and onto their own – fast –  by creating a scalable environment for migration.

Zebra determined that a hybrid cloud would allow them to extend their private environment to the public cloud and start migrating apps without worrying too much about hosting requirements. In fact, this model would even allow Zebra to stage migrations while proceeding with private cloud upgrades.

Managing this, of course, was complicated and not without its own issues. Zebra needed a public cloud to work seamlessly with its private cloud. Zebra also needed to move workloads without any issues and without having to translate disk images. Lastly, Zebra needed to do this while working on other mission critical tasks, such as building out the infrastructure to support the newly-acquired apps.

With testing and evaluation, Zebra found that VMware vCloud Air was the best public cloud option by a wide margin. VMware provided the hybrid cloud environment Zebra needed and outperformed its competitors by sevenfold. Zebra went into preproduction.

In less than a year, the IT team managed two incredible feats: Zebra moved or decommissioned most of the Motorola apps, thereby reducing daily hosting costs by more than 98%, and they did it all while expanding and improving their infrastructure.

By housing the Motorola apps, vCloud Air literally bought Zebra more time. This time enabled Zebra to analyze their options and figure out the right moves in a fast-moving environment creating huge value.

Beyond just the initial migration solution, vCloud Air gave Zebra a unified hybrid cloud. This makes for a seamless workload movement and a single go-to resource for troubleshooting.

Now, the Motorola app integration is essentially done. Zebra has moved on to focus IT efforts on developing self-serve infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) capabilities. Zebra is basing them on VMware’s vRealize suite automation and operation management features.

Once this solution is in place, Zebra customers will be able to go to the Zebra store and configure their own server with a few simple clicks. It won’t matter if they choose a public or private cloud —an automated approval and provisioning process will spin up the server they requested and start metering and billing. At the core of Zebra’s ability to roll out this self-serve IaaS functionality is vCloud Air, a secure public cloud platform offering compute, storage, networking, disaster recovery, and more.

You can read Zebra Technologies’ full story here.

To hear more stories like this one, then check out Success in the Public Cloud with VMware vCloud Air.

For additional insights, resources, and practical advice on leveraging the public cloud to modernize your data center then read Public Cloud Strategies for Protecting Your IT Infrastructure.