VMware Outlines What It Takes For VARs To Get On The Cloud

The company presented its cloud strategy during the opening keynote of its annual VMware Partner Exchange, held this week in Las Vegas.

Rick Jackson, VMware chief marketing officer, used his time on stage to discuss cloud computing, and said that the biggest myth in the industry is the idea that the cloud is a destination.

Public cloud services, which for many is indeed a destination, will be an integral part of IT's future, Jackson said. "But it is wrong to think IT directors will close their data centers and move to public clouds," he said. "There will be investment in private clouds."

Therefore, for 2010, VMware is stepping up the pace in emphasizing the cloud, Jackson said. "We know that virtualization is more than the hypervisor. . . . It's about getting ready for the cloud," he said.

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VMware is working on several initiatives to extend its vSphere platform into the cloud, including "Project Redwood," which Jackson said is aimed at helping VMware customers be able to work with any public cloud. The company is also using its recent acquisition of collaboration software vendor Zimbra to help partners offer applications as a service over computing clouds, he said.

VMware recognizes that many solution providers feel threatened or challenged by the idea of cloud computing, and have yet to understand what it means for them, said Carl Eschenbach, executive vice president of worldwide field operations at VMware.

"In fact, it's not a threat," Eschenbach said. "It's an opportunity."

Eschenbach outlined a five-step process that solution providers can use to move towards working with customers and cloud computing.

The first step is to help customers deploy a private cloud, which allows then to dynamically combine and scale server, storage, networking, and other resources according to their own specific requirements. Eschenbach said solution providers already provide a wide range of services to customers, and can use that experience to help them deploy private clouds.

The second step is to help those customers take advantage of public clouds and the scalable server, storage, networking, and other resources owned by third-party service providers and available over the Internet. In this case, solution providers can add access to public clouds as part of their own managed services offerings, he said.

The third step is for solution providers to resell public cloud services to customers who already have their own private clouds and are looking to expand, Eschenbach said.

Next, he said, is for solution providers to build their own private cloud and then resell access to customers, he said.

Finally, Eschenbach said, solution providers can then take advantage of VMware's SpringSource and Zimbra offerings to start building their own cloud applications.

"Don't be afraid of the cloud. . . . Be chameleon-like, and adapt to the trends out there," he said.

VMware currently has over 1,700 partners in its VMware Service Provider Program (VSPP), which makes it possible for them to use the company's vCloud initiative for delivering a set of cloud computing services across a common platform.

Those companies are leveraging VMware technology to build cloud infrastructures, and are ready to partner with other solution providers, Eschenbach said.

Jackson also took the opportunity to get in a dig about Microsoft's Azure cloud computing initiative.

Microsoft is painting a beautiful picture about cloud computing, but according to its own internal documents is not using its own Hyper-V virtualization platform because it cannot easily pool CPU, memory, and networking resources, Jackson said.

"Azure represents a one-way ticket to a desert island," he said.

Scott Miller, director of business development for virtualization at World Wide Technology, a St. Louis-based solution provider, said VMware's cloud computing message is one he plans to take back home and act upon.

World Wide Technology last month acquired Performance Technology Group (PTG), a secure NOC (network operating system) which offers outsources services to customers including government agencies, Miller said.

"There's a lot of interest in planning a commercial and Federal government cloud with PTG," he said. "We're considering the value we can bring to our customers with secure cloud offerings."

For now, World Wide Technologies is still learning how to apply what it has learned from VMware's cloud computing strategy, Miller said.

"We're doing what VMware's marketing says about getting ready to enable the cloud," he said. "We're not there yet, but we're helping our customers get ready."