As I listened to the keynotes Tuesday and Wednesday at VMworld, a couple of things stood out. It is refreshing to hear the CEO and CTO of a platform vendor talk about the importance of security in both of their respective keynotes. Make no mistake, VMware will be a factor in shaping the future of the security industry – both directly with its capabilities and as an enabler/catalyst for the transition to virtualized security controls in next-generation virtualized data centers.
The other thing that struck me is how VMware’s strategy for delivering cloud-based computing is substantially differentiated from some of the other major players. There are three areas that stand out in VMware’s Cloud strategy:
1) As we discuss in detail in this research note, Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform and services are being offered only by Microsoft at this time and only in Microsoft data centers. Likewise, Google’s App Engine ties you to Google’s infrastructure. Ditto for Amazon’s platform. In contrast, VMware isn’t building data centers, its building Cloud infrastructure software for others to build and host their Cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service offerings on. Today’s formal release of VMware’s vCloud API (a set of standardized APIs to support common services needed from Cloud-based infrastructure as a service providers such as billing, inventory, provisioning and so on) drives this point home. A number of service providers announced support of the vCloud API and it was submitted to the DMTF as the foundation for an open standard. Whereas Microsoft competes with other infrastructure service providers with its Cloud platform, VMware doesn’t. VMware is the “arms dealer” to Cloud-based providers.
2) The same technology underpinnings that enable service providers to provide infrastructure-as-a-service using VMware technology is available to enterprises — today. VMware’s public cloud platform and private cloud platform are based on the same platform. This makes the vision of a “hybrid” private/public cloud much more of a reality. In contrast, the technology behind Windows Azure (Microsoft’s fabric controller – the ‘secret sauce’ in Windows Azure) isn’t available to enterprises, nor is there (yet) a specific roadmap to do so.
3) Like Amazon’s EC2, existing applications don’t have to be rewritten to use VMware as a on-ramp to Cloud computing. With Microsoft or Google, you do. Microsoft specifically needs a better path to take existing Windows workloads into its Cloud platform without requiring a rewrite (and without requiring they be the latest .NET applications either). This is a hole in Microsoft’s strategy and no formal announcements have been made by Microsoft to plug this gap. VMware has beat them to this important capability which is also important for hybrid public/private Clouds.
From an enterprise perspective, VMware’s strategy makes sense and will put pressure on Microsoft to provide a better path for its Windows-centric datacenter customers. From a developer perspective… well, that’s the entire motivation behind the acquisition of SpringSource and the subject of a future post.