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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.

Just as troubling is the nature of these private cloud initiatives. Forrester recently released a report, The Rise of the New Cloud Admin, which criticizes most private cloud plans as inadequate and feeble. (One author wrote a blistering blog post about VMware's remarks, too, excoriating the company as out of touch and facing disruptive innovation that it doesn't even comprehend).

The report characterizes most private cloud projects as warmed-over virtualization that falls far short of what is available in AWS. Forrester also notes that some business units, frustrated at the short-sighted private cloud plans of their IT organizations, are starting to implement their own private clouds based on CloudStack or OpenStack.

The biggest challenge for VMware is that its traditional champion and customer, internal IT, is increasingly not the decision-maker regarding application workload placement. The decision is moving, perhaps inexorably, to application development groups. Worse still for VMware is that these groups are not only indifferent to the strengths of the VMware offering; they are often hostile to the IT practices associated with those strengths.

It's pointless to get up and rail about the unfairness of this process, or to denigrate the provider the new buyer is choosing. Worse yet, it's foolish to insult, by implication, those new buyers by disparaging their choice. Oddly enough, someone who isn't your customer today is unlikely to become one when you tell them how stupid they are for making the choices they make.

Far more productive would be to understand what is motivating the application groups to place workloads within AWS and figure out how to deliver that within the VMware ecosystem. Doubling down on the features and messaging that worked in the past doesn't seem to be working today, nor is it likely to work better in the future.

Throwing a public hissy fit isn't going to help, either.


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