Microsoft is running an ad in USA Today, in the form of an open letter to VMware customers, asking them to talk to Microsoft before signing a contract that might lock them in to a less-than-complete cloud solution from Redmond's foremost virtualization rival.
The ad/letter, which debuted on August 31 -- the first official day of VMworld 2010 -- echoes the sentiments Softies have been airing in recent blog posts on TechNet: That cloud computing is not synonymous with virtualization and should provide a lot more. Virtualization is "only a stepping stone toward cloud computing," Microsoft officials are contending. (My ZDNet blogging colleague Dan Kutsnetsky voiced the same argument in a recent blog post.)
"VMware is asking many of you to sign 3-year license agreements for your virtualization projects. But with the arrival of cloud computing, signing up for a 3-year virtualization commitment may lock you into a vendor that cannot provide you with the breadth of technology, flexibility or scale that you’ll need to build a complete cloud computing environment," said the letter, signed by Brad Anderson, Corporate Vice President with Microsoft's Server & Tools Business.
"If you’re evaluating a new licensing agreement with VMware, talk to us first. You have nothing to lose and plenty to gain," the letter continued.
Microsoft is exhibiting at VMworld this week in San Francisco, although it won't be showcasing its Hyper-V virtualization technology there. (Network World reported that Microsoft is refraining from talking up Hyper-V because its officials "believe(s) the conference's sponsor and exhibitor agreement prevents vendors from demonstrating products that compete against VMware.") Instead, Microsoft execs will be highlighting Windows Azure, Microsoft's cloud-computing operating system, at the event. Virtualization is built into the Windows Azure core.
Microsoft's message at the VMworld event will be that server consolidation equals virtualization, but server elimination equals the cloud, quipped David Greschler, Director of Virtualization Strategy for Microsoft and the founder of Softricity, a virtualization vendor that Microsoft acquired in 2006.
"VMware is really talking about virtualization when it talks about the cloud," Greschler claimed.
Greschler said there are a number of differences between Microsoft's and VMware's approaches toward the cloud. He mentioned the differences in how the two companies are pursuing the goal of delivering a consolidated cloud management console. Greschler said while VMware is promising one view between the datacenter and the service provider, Microsoft is going a step beyond that with its Operations Manager management-pack plug-in, due out before the end of this calendar year, which will provide users with a view of their datacenter, hoster, and private Azure cloud all from the same server.
VMware is making a number of cloud-specific announcements at its conference today, including the unveiling of VMware vCloud Director (its integrated management solution for hybrid clouds); VMware vCloud Datacenter Services; and VMware Shield, a security offering for enterprise-cloud customers.
I think it's interesting Microsoft chose to focus on potential lock-ins with its VMworld ad, given how often the Redmondians are chastised for attempting to lock in customers by creating dependencies on .Net and SharePoint. What's your take? Is VMworld any more open than Microsoft when it comes to the cloud and virtualization?