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VMware vCloud Air users get Google cloud services

VMware vCloud Air users will get four key Google Cloud Platform features as part of a symbiotic deal between the two cloud service providers.

VMware and Google -- two vendors that appear diametrically opposed in their cloud platforms' strengths and weaknesses -- are partnering in a deal that's sure to be mutually beneficial, but benefit vCloud Air users the most.

VMware will begin offering four Google Cloud Platform features -- including Cloud Storage, BigQuery, Datastore and DNS -- within vCloud Air in the first half of 2015. The vendors also didn't rule out potential partnerships around VMware's management tool vRealize.

The biggest winner from this deal will be VMware customers, said James Staten, vice president and senior analyst with Forrester Research Inc., based in Cambridge, Mass. There may be a learning curve with Dataflow, but enterprises are always looking for better database and storage technologies, so the offerings should have immediate benefits for users, he added.

"There's a win for enterprise customers of VMware, for sure, in that they can get access to Google services that it was going to take VMware a long time to match or offer similar capabilities themselves," Staten said.

Creative Solutions in Healthcare, a VMware vCloud Air customer based in Fort Worth, Texas, has already met with Google to hear about integrating these new tools, said Shawn Wiora, the company CIO. Google's broader technologic strengths are reason enough to pay attention, but block storage is one area in particular that could be useful in a deal that has plenty of potential for IT operations, he added.

"That's one tool area we're exploring right now," Wiora said. "I was at a CIO event last night, and every CIO was talking about it."

You scratch my back …

Both vendors have struggled to keep pace with Amazon Web Services in the public cloud, according to analysts. VMware is seen as deeply entrenched in the enterprise, but lacking the agility or the tool set public cloud customers crave. Meanwhile, Google is seen as having the web-scale bona fides but lacking a sizable role in enterprise IT.

Scott Collison, vice president of cloud services for VMware, and Chris Rimer, head of partnerships for Google Cloud Platform, acknowledged there is some truth to these perceptions -- but see this deal as a way to bridge that gap.

"It helps both parties access clients and constituencies we're both active in, but perhaps haven't seen each other in the same conversations at the same time," Rimer said.

The deal has the potential to help both sides, but it's Google that has the most to gain, analysts said.

"Google doesn't have an enterprise presence in the infrastructure business, so getting those services out in front of new customers is huge," said Jillian Mirandi, an analyst with Technology Business Research (TBR) Inc., based in Hampton, N.H.

This type of partnership isn't surprising, as TBR has long thought letting others sell Google's cloud services could be a boon for the vendor by allowing it to keep its focus on its strength in technology development, Mirandi said.

What is surprising, however, is that the deal is with VMware. Something with Dell or HP would have made sense because they're vendor-agnostic and more interested in serving in a cloud broker role -- so Google following this deal with others shouldn't be ruled out, Mirandi said.

"I don't really see Google building out a big support arm," Mirandi said. "They do have direct sales teams working closely with the enterprise, but partnering with those that already have a seat at the table in the enterprise space … it would push Google a lot faster into that hybrid enterprise space."

It's not a win for VMware in the long-term because they just introduced an incredibly agile competitor to the customer base. And while Google doesn't have the ear of the enterprise, VMware just gave it to them.
James Statensenior analyst, Forrester Research

The deal is not exclusive, meaning VMware isn't prohibited from building competing tools and Google can make similar deals with other cloud vendors. When Amazon began expanding to enterprise customers, it built out a professional services team, but it appears Google is taking a different route via partnerships that allow it to retain its focus on the technology, Mirandi said.

Staten disagrees, however, and sees Google slowly internalizing the lessons from VMware to improve its own support and enterprise relationships -- a move that could be detrimental to VMware. And while VMware's sales representatives won't be looking to give Google a lot of attention, resellers will be more open to helping Google achieve its goals, he added.

"It's not a win for VMware in the long-term because they just introduced an incredibly agile competitor to the customer base. And while Google doesn't have the ear of the enterprise, VMware just gave it to them," Staten said.

But Wiora doesn't see it changing his plans because of VMware's experience around managed, secure hosting.

"Just as recently as a year ago, Google didn't really have a lot to talk about with HIPAA compliance," Wiora said. "Our thinking is to stay squarely focused in on vCloud Air because they understand and appreciate our situation and are arguably the leader in this area."

VMware-Google cloud questions remain

It remains to be seen exactly how the technologies will integrate. A go-to-market strategy is still in the works, and details about pricing are still being worked out, Collison said.

If Google's code runs on VMware's infrastructure and there's any segmentation, it's possible vCloud Air customers could be running a different version of Google's cloud services and not receive some of the smaller, frequent updates, Mirandi said.

VMware has touted its NSX virtual networking technology as a way to marry with Google's services and alleviate any concerns about integration or migration. But there are questions about how VMware will make Google's products appear native in vCloud Air and consistency around management tools, Staten said.

"There's definitely work there to be done, but they're buying enough runway to give them the benefit of the doubt that they'll be able to pull this off," Staten said. "But, as I tell our clients, never buy the 1.0 product."

While there are issues to be ironed out, VMware promises the integration will be relatively seamless for customers, who will use the same web interface or management tools they normally use to interact with the vCloud Air services.

Trevor Jones is the news writer for SearchCloudComputing. You can reach him at [email protected].

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