Virtualisation specialist VMware is hoping to become one of the "biggest providers of cloud services" in the world without directly taking on Amazon Web Services (AWS), the current IaaS market leader.
Bill Fathers, general manager of VMware's hybrid cloud services business unit, made the prediction at the European launch of VMware's vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) in London today.
The vCHS is designed to provide a pool of virtualised compute, storage and network infrastructure that can be used by organisations running virtual machines on VMware's hypervisors to offload workloads during times of high demand, or as a platform for running cloud-based apps and services connected to on-premise systems.
VMware believes that the more than 500,000 customers already using its technologies to virtualise compute, storage and networking in their datacentres will be persuaded by the ease with which workloads can be pushed to the vCHS, which is built on vSphere.
"We think about it in terms of how many of our 500,000 clients will deploy workloads on a hybrid service. We don't think it's wrong to think about 20 percent of our clients doing that in a not particularly long timeframe and that making us one of the biggest providers of cloud services in the world," said Fathers.
Since vCHS launched in the US last year the growth in demand has been "huge in percentage terms because we're growing from a very small base", said Fathers.
VMware doesn't see vCHS as a direct challenger to AWS, said Fathers, rather as fulfilling a separate need to Amazon's IaaS offerings.
"It's very, very different. We see AWS as a platform that organisations tend to want to [use to] deploy born in the cloud applications, critically that have no interdependency or connection back to legacy applications," said Fathers.
"We are on the other end of the spectrum, ideal for applications that are already deployed on our own technologies and for new applications that seamlessly need to gain access to existing legacy applications."
Simplified management of the same applications and being able to use the same operations skills and tools across on-premise and off-premise environments is what VMware believes will be a big selling point for vCHS.
Organisation can manage and automate vCHS from their vSphere console, vCloud Automation Center, vCloud Application Director and their own tools using the vCloud API. For organisations managing a VMware virtualised infrastructure using VMware's vCenter vCHS just "shows as another pool of resource you can start to move workloads to", said Fathers.
But Laurent Lachal, who leads the cloud computing research group at analyst house Ovum, is sceptical of VMware's claim that in VMware's claim that it is offering something new in providing "agility of the cloud without having to rewrite the application to run in a new environment".
"First, large AWS instances have been popular from the start because enterprises would simply dump applications in them without redesigning them for the cloud. Second, internal apps increasingly reach out to apps on AWS," he said.
"It makes sense for VMware to position its offering in the way it does. The question is whether VMware will be able to expand into AWS territory as quickly as AWS is expanding into VMware territory."
VMware also offers organisations tools that simplify the process of moving workloads running on ESX and ESXi-based virtual machines onto AWS, but Fathers said the moving a VM to vCHS will be even be simpler.
VMware's push towards providing off-premise service delivery is driven by where the growth in IT spending lies, said Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware, at an event to launch vCHS in Europe this morning.
"IT growth, if you look at overall IT spend, is somewhere between zero and five percent," he said.
"Inside of that the trends are far more stark, off-premise IT is growing 35 to 40 percent. If you do the math that means that on-premise IT is approximately zero to negative, which means if you're not where the puck is going your business is at best a zero percent growth market."
VMware's first datacentre supporting vCHS in Europe is based in Slough in the UK and VMware is looking to next open datacentres in its next biggest European markets, France and Germany, possibly this year, said Fathers.
Having a UK-based datacentre is also designed to meet the needs of organisations that face regulatory restrictions that demand their workloads and data are kept within European boundaries.
Organisations can pay for two variants of vCHS, one as dedicated capacity, which is reserved capacity that is physically isolated from other virtual servers in the VMware instructure, and as virtual private cloud, which mixes and matches customers in a multi-tenant environment.
Firms can also buy managed and applications services on top of vCHS, such as disaster recovery and desktop as a service. VMware is also allowing its partners to add services at the infrastructure layer.