VMware strikes back: “Amazon’s tools promote cloud lock-in”

When Amazon(s amzn) announced a VMware management portal for Amazon Web Services late Friday night, the countdown was on to see when VMware would respond. It took three whole days for VMware(s vmw) CTO Chris Wolf to post “Don’t Be Fooled By Import Tools Disguised as Hybrid Cloud Management” on Monday night. (The site was throwing error messages, however, so I wasn’t able to read it till Tuesday morning.)

Wolf warned that admins will find the AWS tool useful for importing VMs into Amazon and basic vCenter management tasks — but here comes the “but.” His contention — and he has valid points — is that basic management may be helpful now but “can can lead to increased lock-in down the road. The cloud service broker has to be multi-provider — vCloud Automation Center is today and has been for some time.”

Vcloud Automation Center, which grew out of VMware’s DynamicOps acquisition, does manage multiple environments, but the perception remains that for the “seamless” interoperability VMware always talks about, you need to run VMware products in-house and your service provider/cloud partner needs to run VMware products in its house as well. Cloud lock-in is a topic that will be front and center at Structure June 18-19. There, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, VMware SVP Bill Fathers and other cloud poobahs will be on hand.

Wolf continued:

“…the virtual machine is the easy part. Consider all of the management dependencies above as well as third-party integration. If you want to move those workloads or simply run additional instances in a region with no AWS presence, an outsourcer, another cloud provider, or your own data center, you may find that the cost and complexity associated with migration or a new deployment is too much. The service stack would likely be bound to proprietary APIs, and all or most of the third-party management and operational software will have to be replaced. You will be burdened with new QA challenges and likely will need to re-engage with the procurement teams.”

Clearly, Amazon, which is pouring more resources into winning enterprise workloads, struck a nerve. VMware launched vCloud Hybrid Services, its sort-of response to AWS, last fall, relying on an army of service providers and data center partners worldwide to give it AWS-like scale,as VMware SVP Bill Fathers told us on last week’s Structure Show (linked below.)

VMware pretty much owns the corporate data center when it comes to server virtualization and management — although Microsoft Hyper-V has made strides, as has KVM thanks to Red Hat(s rhat) and other proponents. Amazon, which is the market leader by far in public cloud,  uses a flavor of Xen virtualization. So the cloud is a whole different ball of wax.

Wolf said customers should opt for a “de facto” standard (aka VMware) and rely on VMware’s OpenStack support if they want to mix-and-match services. As Fathers put it, enterprise cloud decisions should not be based on price. Given this new free tool from Amazon for VM admins, along with the relentless price cuts on cloud storage and compute by Amazon, Microsoft and Google, you can see why that will have to be VMware’s story going forward.

To hear VMware’s Fathers’ on the state of VMware’s cloud and the competitive landscape, check out the Structure Show podcast, starting at around minute eight.

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