Australia faces wait for VMware public cloud

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Australia faces wait for VMware public cloud

Hosting partners applaud new launch.

VMware has jumped headfirst into competition with Amazon Web Services with the launch of its much-rumoured public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering, but interested Australian customers won’t get a taste of the product until next year.

The company today announced vCloud Hybrid Service and a new division created to look after the offering, VMware Hybrid Cloud Services.

The product will launch to VMware’s 480,000 worldwide customers in the second half of 2013, and will sell through VMWare’s channel partners, but an Australian spokesperson confirmed it won’t arrive on our shores until next year.

VMware is touting the offering as a natural progression of its business rather than a direct play at rival AWS, saying the vCloud Hybrid Service will allow customers to “reap the benefits of the public cloud without changing their existing applications while using a common management, orchestration, networking and security model.”

VMware has traditionally steered clear of providing public cloud services direct, instead offering partners the infrastructure to offer services to their customers. Australian service providers using a VMware stack include Telstra, Optus, Ultra Serve and Bulletproof Networks. 

Juggling clouds

Australian service providers were generally supportive of the move, despite the impending competition with vCloud. Most see their future role as managers and orchestrators of cloud services rather than providers of competing services.

“This is exactly why we built out an orchestration system called Lighthouse, originally called Regila,” said Samuel Yeats, CEO of Ultra Serve.

“We built our platform because we don’t want to be locked into a specific vendor’s path. A lot of other partners and now competitors have been locked in to a VMware path and now there are other partners locking themselves into an Amazon path.

“We can provision on VMware, Microsoft, Amazon, which really means that we can keep our vendors honest.”

He said the future for hosting companies such as UltraServe was in aggregating the solution. 

“Being able to spin up a virtual server is so 2009. It’s all about how you use that infrastructure and create dynamic scalable application environments for customers. All of these offerings we’re talking about, they’re all at that raw infrastructure level, and that’s only one part of the puzzle,” he said.

“What customers are looking for and where we add value is in the application management and the management of virtual instances, and we can take care of that all regardless of what infrastructure it is running on.”

Yeats saw the move by VMware as an opportunity to leverage additional infrastructure when required, rather than an attempt to drive smaller players out of the market. 

“I think they [VMware] are looking either side of them [at Microsoft and Amazon], seeing their competitors’ offerings and realising they have to do something about it,” Yeats said.

“The key thing for them is how to engage and not distance their partner community, that has to be front and centre. That’s got them to where they are today, so they’ll need to be very careful around that point.”

Bulletproof, a mission critical hosting partner of VMware, agreed the move was a positive one for VMware and its partners.

“We rate VMware as easily the best hypervisor, and [this service is] an extension of that. If we deliver our service on our private infrastructure, managed AWS, managed VMware, it doesn’t really matter. What our customers want is fully managed mission critical services,” Bulletproof COO Lorenzo Modesto told iTnews.

He said VMware’s lack of experience as a service provider will present challenges. 

"They’re not coming at it as a service provider," he said. "AWS has always been one, and that cultural element is not to be underestimated. VMware definitely has the opportunity to compete well with AWS, but it will come down to the quality of execution and the product, and that will be essential to prove early.”

VMware’s existing software market share in the enterprise sector would give it a foot up with the new cloud endeavour, but it would have to work hard to catch up to AWS’ head start, Modesto said. 

"They can sell into an existing captive customer base of VMware license holders,” he said. “I don’t see them going down the same path as Microsoft - [which has] just about given Azure away as part of an enterprise licensing agreement. I don’t see VMware doing that, because I don’t think they need to.

“You’ll probably find early adopters will be all existing VMware enterprise users, and they can shift back-office loads into the VMware public cloud.”

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