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VMware tantrum shows it's not connecting with cloud buyers or sellers

Bernard Golden | March 8, 2013
At a recent partner conference, VMware executives threw a fit about the firm's inability to 'own corporate workload' and its partners' inability to beat a 'bookseller' at the cloud computing game. The outbursts show is that VMware isn't connecting with application groups, who are increasingly driving cloud buying decisions.

Without being disrespectful, it seems clear that many VMware customers do want a public cloud. And, believe me, they're not using AWS for just test and development.

The challenge faced by VMware and, by extension, its partners is that their customers-the people running corporate data centers and IT operations-are no longer driving the choice of where workloads are placed. Just as there is a new seller in town in the form of AWS, there's a new buyer in town, one whose application deployment decisions are driven by very different criteria than VMware's traditional customers.

In the past, deployment decisions were an afterthought, a byproduct of the location of infrastructure. If you wanted to run an application, you had to put it in the IT-approved environment, either on-premises or at a hosting location. VMware didn't need to convince application development groups of its value; the only group whose decision mattered was the operations group, because its decision made application placement a fait accompli. Not that application groups were particularly happy with this state of affairs-but their opinion meant nothing.

For a company such as VMware, then, the key objective was obvious: Convince IT operations of the virtue of the VMware solution and everything else would fall into line. VMware executed on this plan magnificently. IT operations is an enormous strength of VMware, with nearly monopoly-like levels of penetration and a large and satisfied customer base.

Naturally, those customers would prefer a future computing environment implemented on a VMware foundation. It would make their job easier and cement their place in the world as the stewards of the technology critical to running application workloads.

Today, however, that pesky Amazon offers another application deployment alternative, one not part of the VMware hegemony. Application groups, so long under the sway and control of IT operations, now have an option to choose something other than the established order. They are embracing that option enthusiastically, too. To get an idea of the magnitude of this enthusiasm, see these Forrester developer survey results.

It's no wonder, really. For years there's been simmering, seething dissatisfaction in application groups about how IT works. Practices optimized for hardware rationing and seemingly indifferent to business needs madden application developers and staff-not to mention their business unit sponsors.

Private Cloud Little More Than Virtualization, Far Cry From AWS

In response to the embrace of AWS by application groups, many IT organizations have developed private cloud plans based on VMware, predictably enough. The problem, just as predictably, is that those plans typically maintain the existing order and continue to focus on the primacy of IT operations priorities.

The response of applications groups to these initiatives is muted. While they might be willing to consider an internally developed alternative to AWS, they have no interest in signing up for a new, shiny set of handcuffs to replace the old set they've just managed to escape.


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