VMware Shows Up At 'Bookseller' Amazon's Cloud Conference, Hawks Hybrid Management

VMware executives used to trash-talk Amazon Web Services, but now the private cloud kingpin has come up with a different way of competing with the public cloud giant.

VMware was a Silver sponsor of AWS' re:Invent conference last week in Las Vegas, and had a booth where it showed off vRealize Suite, its recently rebranded software for managing private and public clouds through one interface.

One of VMware's key selling points for vRealize is that it lets customers manage their workloads running on its own vCloud Air public cloud, as well as other service providers' clouds, including AWS.

[Related: Amazon-VMware Friction Heating Up As Enterprise Cloud Battle Kicks Into Higher Gear]

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VMware has been at re:Invent for all three years that AWS has held the conference, and has been talking about managing heterogeneous infrastructure for a while now. Yet it's only been a year-and-a-half since VMware executives told partners to do whatever they could to keep their customers from using AWS.

What has changed during that time? Essentially, VMware has canned the vitriol and decided to position itself as a "true" hybrid cloud provider, according to partners.

"Going to this conference was very smart, as it was less about supporting AWS and more about taking advantage of a venue to sell hybrid cloud management," said Jamie Shepard, senior vice president of healthcare and strategy at Lumenate, a Dallas-based VMware partner.

AWS has long maintained that all computing will eventually be done in the public cloud, and that private clouds are expensive and unnecessary. So the notion of hybrid clouds doesn't fit with its strategy, although many AWS partners provide hybrid cloud tools and services.

VMware, and many other vendors, insist that enterprises prefer to use a mix of private and public clouds, for security, compliance and other reasons.

What's interesting is that AWS launched a sort-of-hybrid cloud tool in June that lets VMware admins manage virtual machines running on Amazon EC2. VMware responded by warning customers that once they move VMs to the Amazon cloud, proprietary APIs and management dependencies make it tough to get them out.

Amazon dominates the public cloud market by a wide margin and is also the top cloud infrastructure service provider, accounting for 27 percent of the worldwide market, Synergy Research Group said in a report last month. Microsoft was second with just over 10 percent, and IBM came in third with 7 percent.

While VMware might have a tough time getting customers to move workloads off of AWS, providing the software to manage them could help it position itself as "a safe landing place in the cloud," as its executives have described their vCloud Air service.