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Hybrid cloud management battle brews between VMware and AWS

VMware plans to allow its customers to move virtual machines into and out of the AWS cloud and AWS has a plugin for vCenter. Which approach will prevail?

In one corner: VMware, undisputed champion of server virtualization software. In the other: Amazon Web Services,...

king of the cloud. As cloud adoption increases, these two will duke it out to try to become the central arbiter of hybrid cloud management for enterprise IT shops.

The two vendors approach hybrid cloud management with fundamentally differing philosophies. VMware took the 'Hybrid' out of the original name for its cloud service, but hybrid cloud management remains central to VMware's cloud strategy. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services (AWS)' head of enterprise strategy penned a post this week that aimed to dispel the "myth" that hybrid cloud is a destination for enterprise IT rather than a stopping point along the way to going "all-in" with public cloud.

These different strategies show up in the tools each vendor offers its customers; Amazon has the AWS Management Portal for vCenter, a free plug-in for customers to manage Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances through the familiar VMware management portal. At its debut, the tool was rudimentary, but AWS has made significant updates this month, including enhancements to the process of importing virtual machines into the AWS cloud. This import process only works one-way.

VMware, on the other hand, has worked to make its vRealize cloud management suite a similar interface between heterogeneous clouds. *The vRealize suite can be used to provision and manage resources within AWS already, and sources say VMware has considered bidirectional portability of workloads within vRealize as well.

VMware declined to comment as to whether bidirectional portability is on the roadmap, but company officials also didn't rule out partnerships with other cloud vendors when it revealed a partnership with Google Cloud Platform last month. As part of that deal, Google Cloud Storage, BigQuery, Datastore and DNS will be available through vCloud Air in the coming months. The two sides also are looking at partnerships around vRealize.

Hybrid cloud management's value

VMware vCloud Air customer Creative Solutions in Healthcare is interested in connecting to AWS for things like disaster recovery, according to Shawn Wiora, CIO for the Fort Worth-based company. "Having cloud flexibility is really something that everyone is looking at," Wiora said.

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It's interesting to watch the different economic models these two are using. AWS offers a free plugin and has removed the limits on how fast a company can migrate VMs. Plus they are putting the plugin into the native tools of the VMware admin (vCenter). 

VMware requires the customer to use the vRealize Suite (extra costs). charges additionally for each instance/VM managed by vRA in the AWS cloud, and is making the VMware admin learn new tools (vRA).

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IMHO, the more interesting competition will be about AWS trying to build similar plugins to Microsoft System Center, and trying to get MSFT apps into the AWS cloud instead of the Azure cloud. Both companies understand the short-term economic strategies they can employ to lock customers into a model that can be monetized long-term.
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There's no reason why it has to be just one way or the other. They both have uses in different situations, and both approaches work.
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