Keep an eye out for changes in VMware's public cloud strategy

A quick trigger finger on Twitter may have exposed VMware's shift from reliance on partner clouds to its own public cloud

In spite of increased competition coming from Microsoft, Citrix, Red Hat and Oracle, VMware still dominates the server virtualization market. That leadership position has extended into what has become known as the private cloud, an area where VMware is enjoying the benefits of more than a decade's worth of hard work building a solid reputation for its hypervisor technology and creating a strong relationship with the administrators and architects of virtual data centers using VMware products.

With that kind of clout in the private cloud, how on earth could VMware possibly lose the public cloud race? How is it that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is giving the virtualization giant a run for its money? That seems to be one of the big questions coming out of the VMware Partner Exchange event in Las Vegas, concluded at the end of February.

[ Also on InfoWorld: VMware pledges to improve security, considers scheduling patch updates | GreenBytes attacks storage costs and IO bottlenecks within VDI | Track the latest trends in virtualization in InfoWorld's Virtualization Report newsletter. ]

VMware believes its lead in the enterprise virtualization market should translate into success in the public cloud. Is that necessarily the case? Are these two markets headed down the same path? Some industry experts would argue that VMware needs to rethink its approach and make a cultural shift from infrastructure management to service delivery, claiming vSphere does what it does well, but it may not be suited for the new enterprise applications.

During Partner Exchange, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger attempted to rally the troops to make sure VMware's stronghold would indeed extend into the public cloud. He reportedly told partners that VMware wants to own corporate workloads, adding, "if a workload goes to Amazon, you lose, and we have lost forever."

VMware president and COO Carl Eschenbach went a step further, denigrating the Amazon service when he told audience members he finds it hard to believe that collectively, VMware and its partners could not beat "a company that sells books."

With the public cloud gauntlet now thrown, how will VMware make up lost ground? What will it do next to prove it understands the differences between a private cloud and a public cloud?

It remains unclear how far VMware is willing to go. If the past shows us anything, it's that VMware will allow the partner ecosystem to open up new markets in order to expand the company's footprint. Then, when it needs to, it will jump into those markets to do what must be done for the betterment of VMware -- even competing with its own partners.

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