VMware Confirms Public Cloud IaaS, Launches Hybrid Cloud Unit

VMware on Wednesday unveiled its long-awaited public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service, but the company went to great lengths to position it not as an Amazon killer, but a logical progression of its business that will make life easier for customers.

VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service, slated for launch in the second quarter, will allow VMware customers "to reap the benefits of the public cloud without changing their existing applications while using a common management, orchestration, networking and security model," VMware said in a press release.

VMware has also created a new business unit, called Hybrid Cloud Services, and hired former Savvis President Bill Fathers to lead it. Fathers, who stepped down as Savvis' president in November, is now a senior vice president and general manager at VMware.

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VMware made the announcements Wednesday morning in a conference with Wall Street analysts, which included the participation of parent company EMC and the Pivotal Initiative joint venture between the two vendors.

As CRN first reported last week, VMware is aiming to let customers move private cloud workloads to the public cloud while maintaining governance and management. VMware sees tools like DynamicOps and vCenter Operations' ability to monitor workloads in some public cloud environments as key differentiators from Amazon EC2, sources told CRN.

VMware parent company EMC is committing engineers to integrate vCloud Hybrid Service with EMC's Avamar backup and recovery products, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year, sources told CRN last week.

VMware says it will sell vCloud Hybrid Service through its channel partners. Forrester analyst James Staten, in a Wednesday blog post, said many VMware partners "don't see more revenue at the end of the public cloud rainbow" and lack the skills and trust level to help their customers to make the transition from virtualized infrastructure to cloud computing.

"This requires consulting skills and real cloud experience and most VMware partners don't have either," Staten said in the blog post.

NEXT: VMware Changes Its Public Cloud Strategy

Until now, VMware has stayed out of the public cloud space and allowed its partners to deliver these services using VMware infrastructure. But with Amazon continually cutting prices and adding features, VMware has decided it needs to alter its approach.

In a Wednesday blog post, Chris Wolf, vice president of research at Gartner, described vCloud Hybrid Service as "a move that VMware had to make" because it was falling behind in the cloud market.

VMware will have to build in enterprise-grade features and cutting-edge developer tools and solve longstanding management challenges in hybrid cloud environments to make it attractive to customers, according to Wolf.

"This is an opportunity where VMware can leverage its management assets both inside the data center and in the public cloud to allow customers to redeploy workloads and not have to worry about the infrastructure or management stack," Wolf said in the blog post.

By using the "hybrid" cloud label, VMware is attempting to influence how its enterprise customers will view the offering and highlight the role vCloud Director will play in tying it all together, Forrester's Staten said in the blog post.

"[VMware] has long claimed that vCloud Director, which instantiates an IaaS environment, empowers [infrastructure and operations] professionals to manage workloads in exactly the same way, with the same vCenter tools whether deployed on-premise or in the cloud," Staten said in the blog post.

Earlier this month, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger made waves by urging partners to talk their customers out of succumbing to the low-cost attraction of Amazon. "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," Gelsinger said at VMware's Partner Exchange conference .

Today, we know what Gelsinger was talking about. Now the question becomes, will VMware's partners buy into the vision?