Perhaps the biggest selling point for VMware's newly announced hybrid cloud strategy -- and the reason it could be a game changer in the IaaS (infrastructure as a service) market -- is because of the common platform VMware customers will now have between their private cloud internal systems and this new VMware-operated public cloud.
Consistency across the private and public cloud environments could make it easier for users to achieve what some consider the nirvana of the cloud: A hybrid cloud that incorporates an on-premises private cloud with a hosted public cloud, allowing applications to scale between either environment based on resource need.
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That's what VMware's hoping to offer customers, analysts say. Whether that becomes a reality, is still the big question.
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The idea of having a common platform between your public and private clouds is not new. Microsoft, for example, offers Windows Systems Center to manage behind-the-firewall IT, and Windows Azure as its public cloud -- it's all within the Microsoft family. OpenStack has this option too; Rackspace, for example, has a private cloud offering that lets customers deploy the same OpenStack platform that the company uses for its public cloud on their own premises. Even Amazon Web Services -- the giant in the IaaS market -- has partners, like Eucalyptus, that claim to be the private-cloud equivalent of AWS.
In announcing a public cloud, VMware is smoothing the path for customers to get to that "hybrid cloud nirvana" of having public and private cloud resources dynamically working together, says Forrester Research virtualization guru David Bartoletti. So is this an Amazon killer then? "Absolutely not," says Gartner analyst Chris Wolf. "It's more of a VMware survival tool, allowing them to live another day." VMware had to make this move, he says: "Operating like a traditional software vendor in the cloud era is not a recipe for long-term success."