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VMware's cloud strategy equal parts foggy, stormy

Bernard Golden | Aug. 22, 2013
With VMworld on the horizon, VMware has been touting its cloud strategy. That 'strategy,' though, seems to involve dissing Microsoft and Amazon, marginalizing CSP partners and clinging to the idea that the cloud is solely the domain of IT departments. If VMware keeps this up, it can expect a stormy future in the cloud, columnist Bernard Golden says.

When last heard from, VMware's CEO and president were trash-talking Amazon Web Services at a VMware partner event, characterizing it as an offering from a "bookseller." This week, in the run-up to VMworld 2013, VMware is on a publicity blitz, presenting an outline of the themes it will, presumably, flesh out in great depth at the event.

NetworkWorld last week carried an extensive interview with VMware's Pat Gelsinger that explored VMware's cloud strategy in depth. It was illuminating in that it presented a fascinating perspective on how VMware views the way IT operates and the role of the cloud in that operations method.

One must acknowledge at the outset that the execs have learned from their mistake at the partner event. There's no overt denigration of competitors in any of the interview. On the other hand, the interview presents a self-centered and, from my viewpoint at least, highly skewed view of IT buyers and other competitors in the market.

VMware Continues to Dismiss Amazon at Its Own Risk
The VMware mantra can be boiled down to this: The "enterprise" is coming to cloud computing, the "enterprise" is IT operations and VMware understands the enterprise like no one else. In fact, VMware is really the only enterprise-worthy solution, because only its solution allows one technology to run everywhere.

Other vendors suffer because they have non-VMware compatible technology, or their offerings are used by SMBs, or because they don't really understand the enterprise. And the enterprise, above all, wants to primarily run applications in-house, and use external cloud environments as an adjunct environment.

In discussing AWS, for example, Gelsinger begins by praising it for getting the cloud computing thing going. But then he notes that the problem is that Amazon doesn't understand the enterprise, and applications developed on AWS can't be brought in-house to be put into production-which, of course, is the enterprise goal.

To listen to Gelsinger's remarks, you'd think that no real production applications are run in AWS and that the primary issue users have with the product is that it's not compatible with VMware, since the really important aspect of hybrid cloud computing is that it supports VMware technology top to bottom.

I continue to be amazed by how so much of the tech industry belittles AWS as a sort of toy computing environment. 

I don't think Amazon resents being underestimated, but the thinking presented in this interview that significant enterprise workloads are not being run in AWS today betrays a shocking ignorance of the true state of things-or an unwillingness to acknowledge the obvious.

VMware Misunderstands Microsoft Cloud Offerings, Too

It's always a poor strategy to dismiss the competition. Furthermore, you have to wonder how deeply VMware has really looked into actual IT operational environments. Many enterprises are using Hyper-V and implementing on-premises private Azure deployments; characterizing them as unimportant use cases pursued by tiny SMB users is, in a phrase, dangerously arrogant.


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