VMware's cloud proposition 'attractive'

Vendor still has to win cloud providers over to its new "cloud OS", but the virtualization giant's lion's share of market is a big advantage, say analysts.

VMware has introduced a new "cloud OS" aimed at helping enterprises harness the power of the cloud quickly, with some analysts saying the vendor's lion's share of the data center virtualization market will help it win over cloud providers.

Dubbed vSphere 4, VMware hopes the offering will enable enterprises to hop on the cloud without having to re-engineer their architecture. It does so by allowing virtualized data centers running VMware to bridge out to external resources when needed.

James Staten, Forrester principal analyst, explained in an interview with ZDNet Asia, most cloud computing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platforms are running the Xen hypervisor or other hypervisors other than VMware. In order to move apps in VMware's virtual server environment to these clouds, they currently have to be repackaged into Xen virtual machines.

With vSphere 4, VMware hopes cloud platform and infrastructure providers will see the company's dominance in data center virtualization, and sign up to help provide its touted two-way mobility of applications to and from the cloud.

Additionally, it hopes its current partner ecosystem of some 500 service providers--including Telstra and AT&T--will provide good leverage to persuade users to jump onboard.

Most conspicuously missing, however, is Amazon's EC2 IaaS platform. The cloud giant operates Xen virtualization, not VMware.

Ovum principal analyst Graham Titterington, said the 500 or so providers are likely to help, but Amazon's absence is a "major weakness" and "will muffle [its] sales pitch".

"VMware is the clear leader in the virtualization infrastructure market...but the future will be more diverse. The world will not settle for a single provider and we already have Xen, Microsoft and IBM with competing technologies," said Titterington in an interview.

Forrester's Staten said VMware still has to convince cloud providers to support its cloud environment, but its lion share of the market makes it "the de facto virtualization standard in enterprises" and is likely to help its sale pitch to providers.

Furthermore, EC2's popularity lies "mostly with developers, not IT operations professionals" who run enterprise VMware environments, said Staten.

Andi Mann, vice president of research at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), was optimistic about VMware's prospects. "VMware's service provider ecosystem is definitely going to provide strong leverage, and so is their customer base."

Mann said in an e-mail, VMware's 80 percent share of the market represents "more than double" the nearest competitor, presenting a vSphere 4 as a "natural upgrade" for the majority of enterprises.

With companies looking for mobility and flexibility in their data centers, the two-way movement of apps between the cloud and enterprise will make vSphere 4 an attractive option for users, he said.