VMware Looks To Shed 'V-Cheese' Label, Rebrands Public Cloud Service As vCloud Air

VMware officially changed the name of its vCloud Hybrid Service public cloud to "vCloud Air" on Thursday, but it's characterizing the move as more than just a rebranding.

VMware will use the "Air" suffix for all present and future services it offers on its public cloud, which opened for business last September with the promise of being a "safe landing place" for VMware customers to move private cloud workloads.

The VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP) will be called the vCloud Air Network moving forward, Mathew Lodge, vice president of cloud services, told CRN.

[Related: VMware: Our Public Cloud Performs Better Than Amazon and Microsoft, And It's Much Cheaper]

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"It reflects the nature of cloud. Ubiquity is the key concept," Lodge said when asked why the vendor chose "Air" for its cloud rebranding.

VMware currently sells infrastructure-as-a-service, desktops-as-a-service and disaster recovery-as-a-service, and it's expected to talk about new offerings like object storage and database-as-a-service at its VMworld conference next week.

VMware is introducing a new badging system to help its service provider partners differentiate their cloud services in the marketplace.

Partners whose clouds are based on vSphere can get an "IaaS Powered" badge, while ones using vCloud Director to move workloads between private and public clouds can get a "Hybrid Cloud Powered" badge.

There's also a Horizon DaaS Powered badge for partners with clouds geared for desktops-as-a-service. More badges are on the way, Geoffrey Waters, vice president of global channel partners at VMware, told CRN.

Separately, VMware and Canonical said Thursday that Ubuntu LTS images are now certified to run on vCloud Air.

While many VMware partners weren't thrilled with the vCloud Hybrid Service moniker when it was first unveiled last May, some told CRN the "Air" branding sounds too similar to products from Apple and Adobe.

A good many VMware partners feel the rebranding has more to do with the fact that people have been referring to vCloud Hybrid Service "vCheese" than it does with a shift in strategic direction.

"While the name has changed, the underlying services provided and the emphasis around hybrid are still the same," Mark Becker, director of client services at Grand Rapids, Mich.-based VMware partner C/D/H, said in an email.

"vCloud Air is still all about providing an open platform for their customers to run their VMware guests. The hybrid emphasis is a recognition that the cloud environment will be both public and private for some years and that VMware will support both," Becker said.

NEXT: VMware Partners Reporting Little Customer Interest In vCloud Air

Other VMware experts doubt the rebranding will have much impact on people's ability to devise new nicknames for the service.

So I can’t call it VMware vCHeeSe anymore but I CAN call it vChAir from now on. Feel free to tell everyone and upset the marketing folks. :0

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vCloud Air? Ugh. I prefer vCheese

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While VMware claims vCloud Air offers better price-for-performance than Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure, VMware partners have told CRN they're not seeing much in the way of sales.

One VMware partner said there's little to distinguish VMware in the crowded marketplace for cloud services. And with Amazon ramping up efforts to lure VMware partners, VMware will need to figure things out quickly, the source said.

"There is no operational benefit to vCloud, and that's a problem," said the partner, who requested anonymity.

But Lodge said vCloud Air is generating plenty of interest in the marketplace.

"We're seeing a lot of uptake for the service, and we're seeing incredibly strong growth, as would be expected in the early days of the offer," Lodge said.

Disaster recovery-as-a-service is resonating particularly well with customers, and VMware has channel partners that are "doubling down" on their plans to sell the service, Lodge said.

Lodge declined to offer specific growth figures for vCloud Air, citing the fact that as an executive of a publicly traded company, he's not permitted to do so.

VMware currently runs vCloud Air out of eight data centers in the U.S., U.K. and Japan. VMware last month unveiled a partnership with China Telecom to offer vCloud Air in Beijing.

VMware also promoted Bill Fathers, the former Savvis executive who joined last March, to executive vice president and general manager of the Hybrid Cloud Services Business Unit earlier this week, as part of a leadership shuffle.