Well, there seems to be a little mission creep involved in the cloud circles. It seems that VMware’s public stated aim is this: VMware is a vendor of products, which can be used to build either an internal or external cloud. What it hopes to do, and to some degree has already successfully done, is to convince some 1,000 providers to adopt vSphere4 as the platform for delivering the cloud via its vCloud Express initiative.
At this month's VMworld, during the vExpert session I asked whether VMware had any intention of producing a cloud service of its own. The reason being is that I’ve heard rumors and reports of rumors that VMware has bought more datacenter capacity than it actually needs to run its own infrastructure. The person I asked was VMware’s CTO Steve Herrod. He flatly denied that VMware had such a plan. I believe him, mainly because you would affectively be encouraging 1,000 companies to adopt your platform to deliver the Infrastructure-as-a-service (IAAS) to then compete against them. Would you? That would be daft wouldn’t it? Not only would you have annoyed a lot of partners, you would turn them into competitors overnight.
With that said, it does seem odd that if this was VMware’s publicly stated goal they would acquire such a significant stake in one of those vCloud Express providers, Terremark. Where does that acquisition fit into the mission statement?
I thought I would go digging about on vmware.com website to look for announcements about the buy into Terremark and found this on news releases:
“VMware Enables Users to Easily Test-Drive Cloud Computing through the VMware Virtual Appliance Marketplace (VAM) and VMware vCloud™ Service Provider Free Trials”
Perhaps the reasoning behind the acquisition is that VMware could learn about the realities of deploying its products with an organization like Terremark. It could also push the agenda of cloud computing on more successfully by buying into one of the many 1,000s of providers and using them to showcase bleeding edge technologies and ideas. After all, they only acquired $20m stake which sounds like a lot of money but is a nominal amount in real terms. It represents 5% stake when VMware bought some 4 million shares at $5/share.
What prompted my post was this blog post on cloudscaling.com
It’s an interesting read. Essentially, the author thinks that standards will trump Amazon’s market share, and that the openness of VMware’s vCloud API (it even allows for hypervisors other than ESX to be used) will win out against the currently closed model of Amazon EC2. Of course, Amazon could open up its standards to stop the “Hotel California” affect. But if it doesn’t do that quickly it will find that other cloud providers will adopt the VMware standard before them. Then the predicted move by Amazon to Xen will be regarded as too late. It seems like that big business which trusts and already has VMware will first run private internal clouds, before they even consider public external clouds. The move to a public external cloud will seem less “risky” if the technology behind it has already been tried, tested, broken and fixed inhouse, before it's outhouse.
Of course this outhouse has other connotations entirely…
This was first published in September 2009