VMware Partners: VCloud Hybrid Will Rattle Microsoft More Than Amazon

VMware last month took the wraps off vCloud Hybrid Service, its ambitious Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering built on the company's vSphere technology. VCloud Hybrid Service is designed to allow VMware customers to extend their virtualized data centers to both on-premise and off-premise cloud environments as well as quickly deploy applications to the cloud without any modifications.

While Amazon is arguably the biggest cloud player in the industry, VMware partners say vCloud Hybrid will have a greater effect on Microsoft, which also is making a move on the virtualization-cloud synergy front with its Hyper-V and Windows Azure software.

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Boston-based solution provider iCorps is a Microsoft Gold partner as well as a VMware enterprise partner. Jeff Lauria, director of technology at iCorps, said vCloud Hybrid is more of a response to Microsoft than to Amazon. "VMware brought virtualization to where it is today, but Microsoft was on their heels [with Hyper-V and Azure]," he said. "So what do they do? They go with IaaS and look at leveraging the public cloud in a private manner."

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Microsoft has made so much headway with Azure and Hyper-V that even one of its most heated rivals can't ignore it; Oracle this week unveiled a major alliance with Microsoft to certify and support its software products for Microsoft's cloud and virtualization platforms.

Jeremy MacBean, director of business development at solution provider IT Weapons in Toronto, said vCloud Hybrid makes perfect sense for VMware. "I think this will help VMware chip away at Microsoft," he said. "We've started to see some VMware clients move to Hyper-V for Microsoft's cloud, but I think vCloud Hybrid will start to change that."

Amazon, meanwhile, occupies a different end of the cloud spectrum, according to partners. "VMware is offering something that Amazon is nowhere near, which is more than just bulk cloud computing and cloud storage," MacBean said.

Steve Bishop, chief technology officer of solution provider VeriStor, Duluth, Ga., said VMware's hybrid model will have an advantage because most businesses want private cloud deployments for much of their IT operations and aren't ready to have a lot of infrastructure in the public cloud.

"I don't get the sense that VMware is swinging at Amazon with vCloud Hybrid," Bishop said. "They have two different models. Moving to AWS involves a lot of application re-architecture, whereas VMware is more focused on getting existing infrastructure running on its software into the cloud."

That said, Bishop said there is bound to be some overlap, especially in businesses that want to leverage Amazon's service for pushing out applications but want to use hybrid services such as vCloud Hybrid to host key parts of their infrastructure.

But the addition of vCloud Hybrid, partners say, will help keep existing VMware customers in-house rather than moving to competing offerings. "Given VMware's customer huge base in the enterprise, I think they're poised to do very well," MacBean said. "They own a huge chunk of the virtualization market, so this will definitely slow the growth of the competition."

If vCloud Hybrid is successful, will VMware decide to move downstream into public cloud services to compete with Amazon, Google and others? MacBean doesn't think that will happen -- yet.

"That's not where VMware has been successful," MacBean said. "But conventional wisdom says it's easier to go downmarket than upmarket, so I wouldn't rule it out."