SAN FRANCISCO -- VMware's virtualization stack will be made available on Oracle's IaaS, in a partnership that underscores changing currents in the public cloud market and represents a sharp strategic shift for Oracle.
Under the pact, enterprises will be able to deploy certified VMware software on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), the company's second-generation IaaS. Oracle is now a member of the VMware Cloud Provider Program and will sell VMware's Cloud Foundation stack for software-defined data centers, the companies said on the opening day of Oracle's OpenWorld conference.
Oracle plans to give customers full root access to physical servers on OCI, and they can use VMware's vCenter product to manage on-premises and OCI-based environments through a single tool.
"The VMware you're running on-premises, you can lift and shift it to the Oracle Cloud," executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said during a keynote. "You really control version management operations, upgrade time of the VMware stack, making it easy for you to migrate -- if that's what you want to do -- into the cloud with virtually no change."
The companies have also reached a mutual agreement around support, which Oracle characterized with the following statement: "[C]ustomers will have access to Oracle technical support for Oracle products running on VMware environments. … Oracle has agreed to support joint customers with active support contracts running supported versions of Oracle products in Oracle supported computing environments."
It's worth noting the careful language of that statement, given Oracle and VMware's history. While Oracle has become more open to supporting its products on VMware environments, it has yet to certify any for VMware.
Moreover, many customers have found Oracle's licensing policy for deploying its products on VMware devilishly complex. In fact, a cottage industry has emerged around advisory services meant to help customers keep compliant with Oracle and VMware.
Nothing has changed with regard to Oracle's existing processor license policy, said Vinay Kumar, vice president of product management for OCI. But the VMware software to be made available on OCI will be through bundled, Oracle-sold SKUs that encompass software and physical infrastructure. Initially, one SKU based on X7 bare-metal instances will be available, according to Kumar.
Oracle and VMware have been working on the partnership for the past nine months, he added. The SKU is expected to be available within the next six months. Kumar declined to provide details on pricing.
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"It seems like there is a thaw between Oracle and VMware," said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC. The companies have a huge overlap in terms of customers who use their software in tandem, and want more deployment options, he added. "Oracle customers are stuck on Oracle," he said. "They have to make Oracle work in the cloud."
Meanwhile, VMware has already struck cloud-related partnerships with AWS, IBM, Microsoft and Google, leaving Oracle little choice but to follow. Oracle has also largely ceded the general-purpose IaaS market to those competitors, and has positioned OCI for more specialized tasks as well as core enterprise application workloads, which often run on VMware today.
Massive amounts of on-premises enterprise workloads run on VMware, but as companies look to port them to the cloud, they want to do it in the fastest, easiest way possible, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.
The biggest cost of lift-and-shift deployments to the cloud involves revalidation and testing in the new environment, Mueller added.
Gary ChenAnalyst, IDC
But at this point, many enterprises have automated test scripts in place, or even feel comfortable not retesting VMware workloads, according to Mueller. "So the leap of faith involved with deploying a VMware VM on a server in the corporate data center or in a public cloud IaaS is the same," he said.
In the near term, most customers of the new VMware-OCI service will move Oracle database workloads over, but it will be Oracle's job to convince them OCI is a good fit for other VMware workloads, Mueller added.