It’s been termed a stealth attack on VMware and a Trojan horse tactic by Amazon. Given the current focus on hybrid cloud computing it’s also completely understandable if not inevitable.
Here’s what all the fuss is about. At the end of May Amazon, with little fanfare, announced a new AWS Management Portal for vCenter. As the name suggests, this free plug-in for vCenter makes it possible to deploy and manage workloads on Amazon’s cloud from within the same management console that the majority of the world uses for on-premises virtualization. Also included was integration support for VM Import which enables migration of a VM from a VMware virtual environment to the AWS cloud. This automates the conversion of the VM from VMware to an elastic compute cloud (EC2) instance.
The announcement caused a sensation among those of us who cover cloud computing, particularly cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service. One pundit referred to it as a “stealth bomb“. With this move Amazon has achieved a bridge into the enterprise (where it doesn’t have a native presence) using a competitor’s flagship product. VMware understandably would not be pleased as it has its own cloud service (vCloud Hybrid Services) as well as a growing partner community of VMware-based cloud service providers.
Virtual management players like VMware and Microsoft think hybrid is great, so long as the internal and external clouds are both running on their platform. Microsoft, for example, has been pushing a hybrid IaaS model based on Hyper-V virtualization, the Microsoft Azure cloud, and System Center 2012.
But this un-wanted arranged marriage of VMware with AWS is more than a little inevitable if you consider the facts:
- Hybrid clouds are a hot topic. Though cloud computing has been getting a lot of attention we are not seeing a wholesale flight to the cloud. When it comes to infrastructure as a service, most see a Hybrid Cloud at least for the near future where certain workloads will stay internal (private cloud) and others will be moved to external clouds depending on cost and risk (see below).
- VMware is the market leader when it comes to enterprise data center virtualization. Something like three quarters of industry standard server workloads are now running on virtual machines. Many organizations are now over 90 percent virtualized. Most of that is running on VMware.
- Amazon Web Services dominates the public cloud computing landscape. Though companies like Microsoft (Azure) have been making strong plays for the number two spot, Amazon has far and away the biggest cloud and the most cloud based workloads running today.
Given the above facts, a hybrid cloud arrangement that leveraged VMware for the internal private and Amazon for the external public clouds makes a lot of sense. The IT department that has invested years in internal virtualization with VMware can now branch out to the Amazon cloud without having to learn new tools or leave tried and true vCenter behind.
VMware’s rebuttal to all this came in the form of a blog from VMware CTO for the Americas Chris Wolf. In “Don’t Be Fooled By Import Tools Disguised as Hybrid Cloud Management” Wolf warns that migration and basic management are not enough to cover all the dependencies and third party integrations necessary for true hybrid cloud management.
Wolf makes some good points. This is not comprehensive management and the VMware/AWS hybrid is not very dynamic. We also find that integration is also a major concern in cloud projects (after security and availability). But I think there are many scenarios where AWS Management Portal for vCenter can deliver real value. If your cloud strategy has identified some workloads that are pilot candidates for external cloud, the management portal provides a low cost migration (or creation) gateway to Amazon’s cloud without disrupting current management practices.
VMware just better hope that this gateway doesn’t prove to be a gateway drug for Amazon addiction.
Due diligence around identifying candidate applications and services for the external versus internal clouds is a key part of Info-Tech’s Cloud Strategy workshop. Click the image below to check out the project blueprint.