VMware Confirms Public Cloud Project On Twitter, Then Backtracks

VMware's vCloud team on Friday appeared to confirm the vendor's intention to enter the public cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service space, if only for a fleeting moment.

"VMware is prepping a vCloud based public cloud service!" the vCloud team tweeted to its 31,000-plus followers at around 11 a.m. Pacific time Friday.

This looked like an official communication from the vCloud team, which oversees products such as vSphere, vCloud Director and vCloud Connector. But the tweet disappeared shortly after CRN reached out to VMware to verify its validity, and a VMware spokesperson later responded that the company had no comment.

[Related: With Help From EMC, VMware Preps For Its Public Cloud Debut ]

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VMware's public cloud IaaS is currently in limited beta and on track for a mid-April launch, sources familiar with VMware's plans told CRN this week. By giving customers a way to move on-premise private cloud workloads to public cloud infrastructure owned and operated by VMware, the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor is hoping to keep them away from Amazon EC2.

VMware's entry to the public cloud space is a sensitive issue, as it has traditionally yielded this market segment to its service provider partners, many of which are also VMware customers. While some partners probably won't be thrilled by the competitive implications, and may shift their attentions to OpenStack and CloudStack, that's a risk VMware is apparently willing to take.

VMware parent company EMC is also involved in the project, committing engineers to help build integration with EMC's Avamar line of backup and recovery products, an effort that is expected to be completed by the end of the year, sources told CRN earlier this week.

EMC's decision to embed vSphere into its VNX storage products, which are optimized for virtual apps, could enable VNX to tie seamlessly into the VMware public cloud, sources said.

An EMC spokesperson declined to comment on EMC's role in the project, citing the vendor's policy of not responding to speculation.

VMware is moving to slow Amazon's growing momentum in the public cloud space, but sources told CRN VMware also wants to showcase how products such as DynamicOps and vCenter Operations can make the public cloud a less scary place for enterprises.

It's unclear at this point what VMware plans to charge for its public cloud IaaS. But given the vendor's solid reputation in the channel, it's tough to imagine it would risk alienating partners by undercutting their pricing.

VMware currently has 211 service providers offering vCloud services in 31 countries, so there is plenty at stake here, and it will have to tread lightly to preserve these relationships.