VMware vSphere 6 Attacks Amazon with “One Cloud, Any Application”

VMware has announced vSphere6. It has revealed many significant capabilities, but perhaps the most important announcements are those focusing on company positioning and OpenStack.

vSphere 6 and One Cloud

The greatest impact of an announcement isn’t always in the technical details or capabilities discussed. Sometimes, it’s simply in how the company talks about the product. In marketing terms, this is called “positioning.” Many technical people dismiss positioning as mere marketing fluff. But when positioning is done correctly, it clearly tells the prospect and the customer what to expect of the product and the company. Good positioning is more than an exercise in communications with customers and prospects: it’s also a reflection of the core product strategy of the company.

Let’s give VMware some credit and assume that some strategic thought was behind “One Cloud, Any Application,” and that this is more than just a new way to describe an existing set of products. VMware is making a bold claim. That bold claim is that its software running across private, hybrid, and public clouds is the place to run all of your applications. This includes all of the enterprise applications you run on vSphere today, as well as all of the new “web-scale” applications you might be running up at Amazon.

vSphere 6 One Cloud
vSphere 6: One Cloud, Any Application

So, what exactly is new here? If VMware is serious about being the dominant platform for all applications, this strategy has the following implications:

  1. It is recognition of the fact that there is no one dominant platform today. Otherwise, what would be the point in declaring that “One Cloud, Any Application” is your strategy going forward?
  2. It assumes that everyone understands that most people who run enterprise applications on data center virtualization platforms like vSphere do so for a reason. Those reasons might include the fact that those enterprise applications are stateful and require the kind of constant availability that vMotion and its enabled services (FT, DRS, HA, and SRM) provide. In Are the Cloud Bambies Waking Up to Enterprise Requirements?, we showed that the public cloud is a suboptimal place to run applications requiring constant uptime.
  3. It recognizes that there is a whole new class of stateless web-scale applications that incorporate elastic scaling, but don’t need each instance of each image to be constantly available. Elastic scaling is the driver for by-the-hour economics in the public cloud.
  4. This strategic statement strongly implies that VMware is going after Amazon, Google, and Microsoft Azure with a vengeance.
  5. Amazon and Google stand little chance of running the applications that are the mainstay of VMware’s business, so VMware stands little risk of losing its core business to the public cloud vendors.
  6. On the other hand, there is little in the way of technical capabilities separating Amazon’s EC2 public cloud from an instance of vCloud Air. This may all come down to pricing.
  7. If this all comes down to pricing, then VMware’s success will depend on how aggressively it tries to steal share from Amazon and how much it is willing to damage its existing licensing model to hurt Amazon.
  8. Another indicator of the seriousness of VMware’s intent is that senior CTO Kit Colbert is now focused on Cloud-Native Applications.

“One Cloud, Any Application” implies that VMware intends to take Amazon head-on as the platform for web-scale applications in addition to being the platform for legacy application virtualization.

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