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VMware hosting must embrace cloud stack heterogeneity

VMware pushed their VMware-only stack for years, but VMware cloud computing now bumps up against viable orchestration competitors and public cloud providers.

Cloud computing cost comparison: VMware vs. AWS

Part one of this series on VMware cloud computing focuses on application hosting agility. Part two encompasses VMware's uphill battle against diverse software stacks in cloud computing infrastructures. Part three compares VMware's cloud costs to other options.

As VMware gears up to compete in an increasingly cloud-led IT world, the company wants its customers standardizing on VMware hosting technologies. In the data center virtualization battle, the company was very successful in homogenizing a customer's software setup. Cloud computing, however, is a very different beast. VMware users are very unlikely to standardize on a VMware-only software stack to host clouds, due to other viable cloud orchestrator providers and the lure of public cloud computing.

Tools from several established cloud orchestration software providers can ride atop VMware's hypervisor. For VMware cloud computing to attract users away from these companies, it must offer functionally superior and economically competitive products.

A change in philosophy

More troubling for a VMware-centric worldview, though, is the fact that the public cloud sector doesn't align with the company's vision of VMware technology hosting both internal and external clouds. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a coveted hosting component in any user's cloud environment, as evidenced by its runaway success.

Many large tech companies with huge budgets (e.g., Google, IBM and Microsoft) see AWS's success and have made public cloud computing a critical part of their future portfolio. . Consider Google Compute Engine, Microsoft Windows Azure and IBM Smart Business Cloud - Enterprise -- all Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) public cloud offerings vying for AWS customers and other potential customers. They're unlikely to cede potential customers to VMware offerings.

Increasingly, end users -- and, by extension, vendors -- need to manage complex heterogeneous IT environments, whether that means hypervisor tiering, hybrid cloud or another complex stack element.

Historically, VMware has shown little interest in heterogeneous IT environments, believing that its customers should adhere to a VMware-only strategy. With its recent purchase of DynamicOps, VMware is starting to accept the reality of cloud heterogeneity. VMware vCloud Automation Center, born from the acquisition, gives users automated app deployment across various cloud platforms.

But will VMware's cloud strategy make it to the end user? Many companies craft co-opetition strategies with other vendors, only to find that their sales force flatly refuses to pursue deals that incorporate competitors at the end user's data center. VMware has to crack this nut -- and demonstrate its value alongside household names like Google and Amazon for cloud services -- or face a real threat of being relegated to a supporting position in its customers' technology stacks, rather than emerging as the next IaaS champion.

Continue reading for a comparison of AWS and VMware cloud computing costs.

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While VMware just decided to start talking about hybrid environments, options exist today for VMware customers to easily extend their VMware vCenter management to Amazon EC2. HotLink introduced this at VMworld 2012 and won Best of Show as well as Best Cross Platform Management. vCenter becomes the single console for hybrid clones, snapshots, migration, templates and workload conversions to and from Amazon EC2. It's really easy and intuitive.
As VMware changes its market strategy to embrace heterogeneous IT environments with VMware vCloud Automation Center, it is important to note that the technology VMware is talking about as a future has been offered by at least one cloud management platform for a while now. However, to successfully compete in an increasingly cloud-led IT world, the discussion must include how it supports the strategic endgame of increased business agility, faster time to innovation while decreasing operational costs. For a view of CMPs:
-Shawn Douglass, CTO, ServiceMesh