VMware Top Execs Lash Out At Amazon Public Cloud

VMware's top brass Wednesday made sure its hundreds of partners gathered for the company's Partner Exchange conference understood the threat posed by public cloud provider Amazon in the software-defined data center era.

Rallying partners to make sure VMware's virtualization stronghold extends into the public cloud, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger told partners that if "a workload goes to Amazon, you lose, and we have lost forever."

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"We want to own corporate workload," said Gelsinger. "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."

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VMware President and COO Carl Eschenbach was even more blunt in his assessment of Amazon, whose public cloud offering -- Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) -- is being embraced by developers and even lines of business frustrated with provisioning IT services from corporate IT departments. "I look at this audience, and I look at VMware and the brand reputation we have in the enterprise, and I find it really hard to believe that we cannot collectively beat a company that sells books," said Eschenbach, drawing applause from the partners that have put VMware at the center of massive push to drive IT as a service into corporate America. "That is our challenge."

Amazon did not return a call for comment at press time.

Both Gelsinger and Eschenbach promised more innovative programs and offerings aimed at powering the growth of VMware's Service Provider Program (VSPP) partners, a business that grew 87 percent last year for VMware.

"What is really amazing -- we haven't done anything to earn that business," said Gelsinger. "All we did was change the business and the licensing model. We haven't written a new line of code to specifically enable the service providers. That is changing.

"We are going to take this very seriously to deliver the products, the technologies, and the services for our service provider customers," said Gelsinger.

NEXT: VMware Partners On The Amazon Public Cloud Threat

VMware's Eschenbach, for his part, pointed to VMware's innovative new "Cloud Credit" program that was unveiled at the show this week as evidence of the company's stepped up focus on service provider partners. The new cloud credit purchasing program is aimed at uniting VMware's service providers with solution providers to drive more public cloud sales as customers build out hybrid public/private cloud environments.

"We need to collectively make sure, as these enterprise workloads move from a private cloud into a public cloud, to create the hybrid environment that goes across a common standardized framework with no file format, no transformation of the virtual machine, no additional security fire holes to punch through," asserted Eschenbach. "It is seamless. That is the hybrid cloud approach that we have. That is why we are going to continue to be successful in the future."

John Ross, a technology consultant based in Dover, N.H., said Amazon is benefiting from the "rogue IT" movement that has developers and lines of businesses going around IT departments. He said a good number of corporations are seeing Amazon Web Services showing up on expense reports "outside of the IT budget." That "rogue IT" effort is moving hundreds of thousands of virtual machines to Amazon even though corporate IT departments don't support Amazon as a provider. "It's a huge threat to VMware," said Ross.

Bob Cagnazzi, the CEO of Presidio, a $1.3 billion national solution provider power, said most customers are "enamored and interested in public cloud pricing, but at the end of the day, they want the security and performance they are getting with the private cloud.

"When we talk to our clients, most of them view Amazon as a test/development environment," said Cagnazzi. "What they really want is a private cloud. Software-defined data center is the next evolution of the private cloud; that is orchestration, automation and virtualized infrastructure. That is what most of our clients are looking for now so they have the security levels and the level of performance they want with the same dynamic capabilities."

Keith Norbie, vice president of Stratos Management Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based VMware enterprise partner, also sees the "vast majority" of workloads moving to Amazon as testing and development environments. "VMware will adapt to that game," he said. "As a partner you have to find the opportunities -- not necessarily get too freaked out by the threats."

Norbie said he is currently putting together a VMware vCloud Automation Center solution for a customer deploying Amazon Web Services. "We are managing both local vCloud workloads and Amazon workloads," he said. "That is fairly ground-breaking. You have to be able help organizations manage these virtual workloads in any cloud and be able to migrate them in and out of these clouds in the future. If their experience doesn't go well in one cloud, you have to be able to help move them to a different cloud."

Norbie praised VMware for its standards-based approach supporting customer choices. "VMware's overall ecosystem embraces wherever a client is at in the cloud continuum and where they want to go," he said. "VMware is leading the way on standards."