Abiquo promises enterprises and service providers a VMware-EC2 bridge

The British cloud management outfit Abiquo may have made its name helping enterprise customers run their private clouds, but over the last year it has been quietly broadening its focus to take in service provider customers, too.

On Tuesday Abiquo made that shift a bit more explicit with the release of version 2.6 of its software. The big news with this version is that it attempts to offer a bridge between Amazon(s amzn) EC2 and private clouds based on VMware(s vmw), Microsoft(s msft) Hyper-V 2012 or Oracle(s orcl), so service providers can serve enterprises that have already put part of their workloads into Amazon’s public cloud.

According to freshly installed Abiquo CEO Gilles Samoun, who joined the firm in August, future releases will also plug into other public clouds, such as Terremark(s vz), Rackspace(s rax) and Profitbricks. He told me this was all the result of demand from service provider customers:

“The assumption analysts in the market made 5 years ago was that all the non-critical data would reside on public cloud and all critical data would be on-premise. We have seen this is not working like that. Enterprises are also putting their own data outside on the public cloud…

“A lot of service providers want to keep up on the competition and to be able to offer services to enterprise customers. We are targeting the service providers that have an immediate need and are providing them with a full stack, almost a pre-packaged application, from management of virtual machines to management of catalogs of applications, including provisioning and the ability to have a self-service offering.”

Now, it’s not new for service providers to buy into the cloud in this way — think Telefonica(s tef) using Joyent, or OnApp’s quiet federation-building. The big competitor here, at least as Samoun sees it, is OpenStack. He suggested Abiquo’s proprietary stack was preferable because it “doesn’t need months of consulting to be deployed” (I’m starting to lose track of how many times I’ve heard that charge leveled at OpenStack) and also because it supposedly connects quite happily with third-party CRM, billing and helpdesk systems.

Abiquo’s v2.6 explainer page refers to the version as the “God release” — perhaps just a tad hyperbolic, particularly as Samoun (who admittedly only just walked in the door) says it’s more evolution than revolution. Nonetheless, it is the first time that Abiquo is really pushing this hard for the service provider crowd with its promises of hybrid nirvana.

That perhaps belated push can also be seen in the recent appointment of Ian Finlay as Abiquo’s product chief. Finlay was previously group CIO at the managed services provider Claranet, which is of course an Abiquo customer. “He was so seduced by the technology,” Samoun joked.

Correction: This article was updated on 2 October to reflect the fact that Abiquo is a British rather than French company.