VMware Preps Long-Awaited Hybrid Cloud Service Rollout

VMware Tuesday will take the wraps off of its long-awaited hybrid cloud strategy in a move that is likely to amp-up competition with Amazon Web Services and a host of other competitors in the market.

Although many of the details remain undisclosed in advance of the formal rollout, comments VMware executives made at an investor conference in March disclosed that the "vCloud Hybrid Service" will include will include the company's own public cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) as part of the overall value proposition.

According to a May 13 blog post by Matthew Lodge, senior director of cloud services at VMware, public cloud tends to "uncompromisingly assume you can make all your application and systems fit their way of working in production." Lodge therefore claims that VMware intends to pursue "a new approach ... that starts inside your data center and extends out to support all applications -- both the new 'born in the cloud' application and your existing systems. We believe the hybrid cloud should allow you to seamlessly extend your data center to the public cloud leveraging the same infrastructure, same network, same management and skills."

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Lodge goes on to explain that both the company's software-defined data center strategy and the VMware ecosystem including service providers, systems integrators, ISVs and channel partners, are central to the initiative.

As of Monday afternoon, channel partners familiar with the forthcoming strategy signed nondisclosure agreements and were unable to discuss the details. Among them is Bill McCarthy, senior vice president of managed cloud solutions at Insight of Tempe, Ariz., who also consulted on some of the language that is being used in the contracts.

"This is a good fit, and I believe the marketplace needs this offering," McCarthy told CRN. "Based on our early discussions over the last 90 days, it's going to complement what VMware is already doing, and it's going to give customers another opportunity to deal with the publisher directly."

McCarthy declined to elaborate on his statement due to NDA.

"I personally would not say that it's a game changer, but I do think that it's a needed solution," he said. "If I'm already selling VMware, why wouldn't I want to sell infrastructure as a service, as well?"

McCarthy added that use cases and test cases have already been operating with a handful of customers, and he suspects that information on those cases may be shared at the launch.

NEXT: More Communication, Please

Among partners waiting in the wings to hear the announcement is Paul Hilbert, principal at Network Doctor, an Englewood Cliffs, N.J.-based VMware partner.

"Hybrid cloud is definitely where the market seems to be going, because it's hard to go 100 percent into the cloud," he observed. "Anything that they do for infrastructure as a service is going to be a good competitive move."

But, to the extent that the VMware strategy hinges upon solid relationships with channel partners, Hilbert advises that the company improve its communication with its partners.

"I don't hear anything from VMware at all," Hilbert told CRN. "Other vendors tend to hold our hand a little bit, but I never hear from VMware. I would definitely like to get more information regarding road maps and other things that would help us to align our solutions with what they are offering."

The partners agreed that new players in the infrastructure-as-a-service space may contribute to an environment of compressed margins. But Joe Giegerich, managing partner of GigWerks, a New York City-based channel organization, sees this as a good thing.

"It's an incredible race to the bottom in terms of price," he said. "I like that because the lower prices help to free up revenue. As the money goes out of platforms, it's good for services, which is where we make much of our money.

"The point of technology to me is to see it commoditize," he continued. "It's not that money goes away, it merely shifts. And if the whole point of technology is to increase efficiency, then bringing down the price of hosted environments does nothing but free up opportunity for people who are in services who are focused on something other than standing up a box."