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Enemies No More: Amazon & VMware Partner on Cloud

Mitch Wagner
10/14/2016
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Former archrivals Amazon and VMware are joining forces with a hybrid cloud offering that will allow enterprises to run VMware workloads on the Amazon public cloud.

For Amazon Web Services Inc. , the partnership strengthens a potential vulnerability. While Amazon is far and away the leader of the public cloud market, with much greater market share than its nearest rival, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Azure, Microsoft has a strength that Amazon lacks. Microsoft is strong in the hybrid cloud, as enterprises already rely on Microsoft servers and applications to run their business, and are happy to look to Microsoft to extend into the cloud.

Likewise, VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) is strong in private cloud and server virtualization, but its hybrid cloud strategy is vulnerable. Hybrid cloud requires a public cloud component, and VMware lags in that area. True, VMware has its own public cloud platform running in its own data centers, and public cloud partnerships with telecoms and cloud providers, such as IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) But the VMware public cloud is a distant also-ran in the cloud market, and VMware partner IBM is running far behind Amazon in market share as well. Now, VMware is befriending Amazon, the biggest cloud provider by a long shot.

So what are the two companies doing?

Amazon is partnering with VMware to help enterprises "take advantage of the benefits that AWS has to offer while building on their existing investment in virtualization," AWS Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr says in a post on the AWS Blog.

The two companies will offer a VMware environment on the AWS Cloud that can be accessed either on an hourly on-demand basis or by subscription. "It includes the same core VMware technologies that customers run today in their data centers," namely vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi), Virtual SAN (vSAN) and the NSX network virtualization platform. It's "designed to provide a clean, seamless experience" between on-premises data center and the AWS cloud, Barr says.

"If you find yourself ... running on-premises virtualization but looking forward to the cloud -- I think you'll find a lot to like here," Barr says. "Your investment in packaging, tooling, and training will continue to pay dividends, as will your existing VMware licenses, agreements, and discounts. Everything that you and your team know about ESXi, vSAN, and NSX remain relevant and valuable. You will be able to manage your entire VMware environment (on-premises and AWS) using your existing copy of vCenter, along with tools and scripts that make use of the vCenter APIs."

And VMware users will get access to the AWS infrastructure from their apps, including compute, storage, database, analytics, mobile and IoT services, Barr says. VMware users will be able to use vSphere vMotion to live-migrate to AWS "with a couple of clicks."

The services and technology are currently in technology preview, with invitation-only betas to start in early 2017 and availability mid-year, says Mark Lohmeyer, vice president of products for the VMware cloud platform business unit, in a post on the VMware blog. VMWare Cloud on AWS will be operated and sold by VMware as an on-demand service.

"This jointly architected service represents a significant investment in engineering, operations, support and sales resources from both companies," Lohmeyer says.

That's particularly significant because it was not long ago that VMware and AWS were foes. VMware executives said if the commodity public cloud -- meaning Amazon -- wins, VMware would lose, and added that VMware should be able to beat Amazon, a mere "company that sells books."

Signifying the changing mood, the two companies announced the partnership at a high-profile event at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in San Francisco, featuring AWS CEO Andy Jassy and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger.

Rumors of the announcement leaked last week. (See VMware Seeks Cloud Dominance by Building Bridges.)

But like a spurned romantic partner on a reality TV show (Real Housewives of the Cloud?), IBM isn't giving up easily. IBM and VMware launched their own cloud partnership in February, and put out an email statement about it Wednesday.


Want to know more about the cloud? Visit Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.


"Welcome to the party!" IBM said. "With this news, AWS is following IBM's lead who established a strategic partnership with VMware nearly a year ago!"

(Eight months is "nearly a year"? Whatever.)

IBM says more than 1,000 joint customers are moving their VMware environments to the IBM cloud, including Marriott International and Clarion. IBM has 4,000 global service consultants in VMWare on the IBM Cloud. And the two companies jointly developed VMWare Cloud Foundation, to help move existing apps to the IBM Cloud in hours, IBM says.

VMware announced Cloud Foundation in August with plans to support all the major public clouds, not just IBM.

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud

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