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VMware Declares War on Amazon Web Services

The fur was flying this week after VMware's new CEO, Pat Gelsinger, told partners to do what it takes to keep customers from migrating their workloads to the Amazon Web Services public cloud.

Speaking at VMware's Partner Exchange Conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, Gelsinger warned the company's top partners that "a workload goes to Amazon, you lose, and we have lost forever," according to CRN's account of the event.

"We want to own corporate workload," Gelsinger continued. "We all lose if they end up in these commodity public clouds. We want to extend our franchise from the private cloud into the public cloud and uniquely enable our customers with the benefits of both. Own the corporate workload now and forever."

The widely reported remarks resulted in a blunt rebuke by respected Forrester analyst James Staten.

"Forgive my frankness, Mr. Gelsinger, but you just don't get it," Staten charged in a blog post. "Public clouds are not your enemy. And the disruption they are causing to your forward revenues are not their capture of enterprise workloads. The battle lines you should be focusing on are between advanced virtualization and true cloud services and the future placement of Systems of Engagement versus Systems of Record."

Staten argued that vSphere is used primarily to manage static workloads and functions such as live migrations and disaster recovery, where they provide high SLAs for business-critical apps that run in virtual environments.

Furthermore, he argued vSphere has failed to capture modern apps, such as those targeted at mobile devices or those that have unpredictable capacity requirements. "It's not that vSphere isn't capable of hosting these applications -- but that the buyer values functionality that lies at a far higher level than where VMware has its strength," Staten noted.

Most vSphere configurations aren't implemented as self-service infrastructure, he added. "It doesn't provide fast access to fully configured environments. It wouldn't know what to do with a Chef script and it certainly couldn't be had for $5 on a Visa card. For VMware and for enterprise vSphere administrators to capture the new enterprise applications, they need to rethink their approach and make the radical and culturally difficult shift from infrastructure management to service delivery. You need to learn from the clouds, not demonize them."

If that wasn't blunt enough, Staten concluded: "What you should be doing is admitting you screwed up with vCloud Director 1.0 and 1.5 and kicking ass in engineering to get a true cloud to market ASAP."

Jeff Aden, president and co-founder of Seattle-based 2nd Watch, one of Amazon's largest implementation partners, said he believes VMware's attacks are a sign it fears Amazon's growing public cloud business as a threat to its own high margin business. "This form of demonization shows they don't understand what is going on in the marketplace," Aden said. "Virtualization saves pennies compared to cloud, because with virtualziation you still overbuy hardware, while continuing to pay for software license fees and maintenance contracts." 

VMware appears to have had a love-hate relationship with the public cloud for many years. At one point, it is believed VMware was quietly aiming to acquire Terremark (it held a minority stake), which Verizon ultimately scooped up for $1.4 billion two years ago. VMware has said it wouldn't compete with its partners and launch its own public cloud.

Nevertheless, rumors surfaced back in August that VMware is developing a public cloud, code-named Project Zephyr. On Friday, CRN reported that VMware is planning a "top secret" public cloud -- not Project Zephyr, but a service internally known as VMware Public Cloud that is "intended to slow Amazon's momentum and generate more revenue in areas that lie outside its core virtualization business."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/01/2013 at 12:48 PM


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