VMware Inc.'s new vCloud Express cloud brokerage service, announced today, was designed to compete head-on in the public cloud market.
The service offers self-service provisioning of virtual machines (VMs) through the company's vCloud portal to hosting partners. Also at VMworld 2009, the company discussed the general release of its vCloud application programming interface (API), paralleling other public cloud providers like GoGrid, Rackspace and Amazon.
VMware is pitching the vCloud Express service as an inexpensive and efficient way for enterprises that already use VMware virtualization to start extending their deployments into the cloud, with a minimum of pain and suffering and the ability to choose among competing vendors offering VMware cloud services.
"When you hear vCloud Express, think fast and cheap, or fast and cost-effective, I should say," said VMware CEO Paul Maritz at his VMworld keynote speech, delivered from San Francisco. Maritz said that VMware is releasing its API for vCloud and would strive for broad functionality and acceptance by cloud users, saying the company would hew to as-yet-undetermined standards for cloud computing.
"The vCloud API has been submitted to standards organizations to get a common standard we can all rally behind," Maritz said. He did not specify which standards bodies those were, but it is likely that the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF) will be involved. VMware is a long-time DTMF member.
vCloud Express will function as VMware's gateway to hosting companies running public clouds based on VMware infrastructure. Currently, five hosting companies have signed on to vend through vCloud Express: Logica, BlueLock, Hosting.com, Terremark and Melbourne IT. The ability to aggregate hosting providers into a "cloud brokerage" service is seen by some as a positive step.
"These cloud providers are going to compete on price and service levels," said Tony Iams, Senior Vice President and Senior Analyst at Australian analyst firm Ideas International.
Prices for the for compute resources reportedly start as low as $0.05/hour, undercutting Amazon's cheapest EC2 instances by half. Australian IT services firm Melbourne IT will begin offering single CPUs with 500MB RAM for that price, and prices graduate upwards depending on performance.
Other vendors have not released pricing details, and it is unclear whether VMware takes a cut off the top of what providers charge, makes money from additional licensing fees or both.
Alex Barrett, SearchServerVirtualization.com news director, contributed to this report.