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It's official: VMware will face off against Amazon Web Services with a vCloud infrastructure as a Service platform later this year.
Reports about the new service surfaced last week but VMware Inc. hadn't confirmed them until now.
Technical details on the new vCloud Hybrid Cloud Service were scant during executives' presentations at the EMC/VMware Strategic Forum in New York City on Wednesday. How the service will be provisioned, pricing and a specific date of availability beyond a general time frame of mid-year 2013 were not included in public remarks by CEO Pat Gelsinger or president and COO Carl Eschenbach.
The product is currently in beta, and one beta tester, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it's still rough around the edges. He reports failures and timeouts on uploads to and from the cloud environment; site-to-site integration issues with little visibility into the infrastructure to troubleshoot problems; and virtual machine (VM) connectivity issues between machines in the same virtual data center.
To be fair, beta versions of products are typically buggy and a new interface is being delivered soon. The tester said he is reserving judgment until then.
VMware officials responded that customer satisfaction is important and as with all its beta programs, the company will use customer feedback to bring "the best possible offering to market."
VMware aims to win AWS customers
VMware shops not involved in the beta were split on whether they would eventually give the vCloud Hybrid Cloud service a try.
AWS will not stop to let them easily catch up.
analyst, Gartner Inc.
"Having the same infrastructure in house and the ability to expand to the cloud with the click of a button without having to go through a lengthy process of signing contract with a provider is a huge plus [for VMware]," said Maish Saidel-Keesing, a virtualization administrator for an Israeli technology company.
Saidel-Keesing's company doesn't deploy version 1.0 products as a rule, but down the road, he'll probably try it out, he said.
VMware may have trouble convincing existing Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers to make the switch.
"Public cloud isn't just about providing infrastructure," said Sean Perry, CTO of Robert Half International. "It's about giving you a platform to build new things."
Perry's company uses vSphere internally but has committed to AWS for public cloud. The company has also used Verizon-Terremark, a vCloud partner, in the past, but just found it a "distraction" from cloud computing efforts with AWS, Perry said.
Industry experts aren't sure how successful the VMware public cloud service will be, but do agree on one thing: It was all but inevitable.
"VMware will garner interest, because they are VMware, but launching a new service in today's market will take time and the competition, namely AWS, will not stop to let them easily catch up," said Kyle Hilgendorf, an analyst with Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.
Still, many enterprises have to go through a cultural change to embrace public cloud, and VMware now has an opportunity to demonstrate the proper way to build both public and private clouds with vCloud Director, according to Forrester Research analyst James Staten.
Next on the to-do list: Placate partners
The vCloud Hybrid Cloud service will be delivered through channel partners, and the vCloud Service Provider Program (VSPP) will continue.
VSPP partners will have access to a reference architecture and operational runbook built by VMware over the last year for delivering a vCloud service.
Eschenbach said VSPP has been a successful program..
There will be some fallout with partners, Staten predicted. "I don't think it will be huge, but for anyone who was thinking about launching a vCloud service, it might slow their efforts down."
As part of remarks at the Strategic Forum, EMC and VMware execs also said that the Pivotal Initiative will officially launch April 1. The spinoff company, formally dubbed Pivotal, Inc., will combine IP from EMC's Greenplum and Pivotal Labs along with VMware's vFabric, Cloud Foundry and Cetas properties, and will be led by former VMware CEO Paul Maritz.
Cloud Foundry, the Platform as a Service software originally written by VMware, will be made available on the new vCloud Hybrid Cloud Service.