VMware + AWS?

Rumors are flying that VMware and Amazon Web Services will be teaming together to offer cloud services for VMware workloads. A press conference is scheduled for Thursday, October 13, on what will reportedly be a significant announcement related to a partnership between the two companies.

In light of the numerous Citrix and Microsoft announcements related to Azure-hosted workloads, it should not come as a surprise that VMware is seeking to strike a deal with a formidable partner. Citrix and Microsoft have an extremely tight partnership at this point, and VMware clearly needs a strong ally in order to compete in the cloud space.

A close partnership between VMware and Amazon Web Services would come on the heels of the Dell acquisition. The dust hasn’t fully settled from the numerous changes and downstream impact, but cloud is too important to wait for all the corporate pieces to fall into place. Dell, of course, has had a longstanding relationship with AWS, and VMware needs to take steps to accelerate the cloud conversation and create buzz in the industry.

So, are VMware and Amazon Web Services a suitable match? Other cloud partners are not viable: SoftLayer is part of IBM and thus not under consideration, and Rackspace is in the throes of being acquired by Apollo Global Management. Further, Citrix and Microsoft are clearly captivated with their relationship. Being that Dell and AWS already have a relationship, the extension to VMware is logical.

Citrix/Microsoft Impact

At the Citrix Synergy conference in May, the Citrix/Microsoft relationship took the center spotlight. As a result, the Amazon Web Services booth experienced very little traffic, and hallway conversations were overwhelmingly slanted toward Azure. AWS appeared to be caught off guard and no doubt felt like an extraneous entity.

Another milestone that showed the tightened relationship occurred in August when Citrix and Microsoft announced that Azure Remote App would be deprecated in favor of Citrix’s Azure-based cloud solution. There is no doubt that Citrix and Microsoft have a solid partnership that is an excellent fit for both companies.

In light of the Citrix/Microsoft partnership, AWS has likely already lost some business to Azure. From a financial standpoint, changing the technology infrastructure of Amazon Web Services and aligning with VMware makes business sense, even though the short-term changes may be complex. From a marketing standpoint, AWS didn’t want to be the last cloud provider left standing without a partner.

What’s Next?

The reality is that most organizations are not deploying their workloads in the cloud today—yet. They’re thinking about it, planning for it, and testing it, but in most cases, they aren’t doing it—yet. If VMware can show a plan and a partnership vision with AWS, that may be sufficient for the moment. However, the partnership between VMware and AWS will need to have solid offerings in fairly short order in order to address the expected demand.

How will AWS integrate with VMware technologies? Amazon Web Services has had a relationship with Citrix technologies for many years, and its offering was initiated based on XenServer as the hypervisor. Ripping out XenServer would be a major technology change and highly unlikely. Appending VMware technologies is the more likely scenario, at least initially. That, however, means numerous technical and marketing changes within AWS.

Conceptually, Amazon Web Services and Azure have many similarities, as do VMware and Citrix. As such, the adoption of VMware technologies by AWS employees shouldn’t be overly complex. Further, VMware has a few aces up its sleeve, like Site Recovery Manager, that could be marketed as part of hybrid deployments and disaster recovery failover to Amazon Web Services.

How does this potential announcement play out in the long term? A partnership between VMware and Amazon Web Services has great possibilities. Both organizations are part of larger enterprises that understand the massive growth potential of this market. However, the two organizations aren’t as synergisticly aligned as Citrix and Microsoft. Business and technical issues aside, organizational alignment is an important consideration. VMware employees recently underwent a massive change as they became part of Dell, and forcing another cultural change on them in such a short time frame may be difficult. In the long term, the partnership will likely be a good match, but in the short term, there may be some technical and cultural hurdles.


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