Being first mover has its advantages. Among public cloud services, Amazon still boasts the vast majority of IaaS customers and the richest array of features.
But is Amazon the place for production enterprise workloads? The idea of putting the family jewels in the public cloud tends to make enterprise IT managers squirm. Generally speaking, those workloads stay in the data center.
VMware thinks it can change that with a hybrid cloud strategy, where on-premises VMware infrastructure melds with public IaaS to yield one seamless cloud. Bill Fathers, senior vice president and general manager for hybrid cloud, sketched out this approach to InfoWorld last week.
VMware will work with IaaS partners on a hybrid cloud strategy, where enterprise customers can manage local VMware infrastructure and public cloud VMware infrastructure of a piece using familiar tools such as vCloud Director. For VMware and its IaaS partners, this will be sort of a "VMware inside" play. In addition, Fathers said, VMware will offer its own IaaS service, although he did not offer details.
On the surface, that sounded like the same general strategy former VMware CEO Paul Maritz floated two years ago, when he talked about fostering a global ecosystem of telcos that would provide enterprise-class VMware pubic cloud services. Already, Verizon Terramark and Dell offer VMware public clouds.
So what's different? According to Fathers, VMware has recognized that for the hybrid dream to become reality — where enterprises can easily move workloads among clouds and manage resources as more or less a single fabric — VMware must develop a standardized public cloud solution for its partners. Fathers said that VMware has been working on this for a while, and although it doesn't have a name yet, more details will be forthcoming at VMworld.
This hybrid approach has always made sense in theory, but the standardization Fathers is talking about is essential for a unified pubic/private platform, unless you find the idea of ironclad lock-in to a single provider appealing. Similar hybrid goodness is part of the promise of OpenStack — which envisions an ecosystem of public and private OpenStack clouds across which workloads matriculate easily — but the OpenStack consortium is years away from making this a reality.
Interestingly, one of the companies furthest along in this vein this is Microsoft, which with Windows Server and System Center 2012 has begun offering hybrid-style integration with Windows Azure. That coincides nicely with dramatic improvements in Hyper-V, plus Microsoft's decision a year ago to loosen up and offer IaaS rather than pushing PaaS only. In addition, Microsoft has its own partner program, where independent service providers can buy a turnkey version of the Azure platform and offer it to customers.
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