Google and VMware are clashing over private clouds and the question of whether customers benefit more from building highly virtualized datacenters inside their own firewalls or from outsourcing IT needs to public cloud providers, such as Google and Amazon.
VMware is trying to convince enterprises to use its new cloud operating system, a software layer that virtualizes and aggregates servers and storage into one computing pool, making it easier to manage internal datacenter resources and provision new services to users.
[ Some IT pros think private clouds are a good first step into cloud computing | Keep up on the latest in cloud developments with whurley's Cloud Computing blog. ]
Google took a swipe at VMware's approach with an official blog post on April 28 titled "What we talk about when we talk about cloud computing." Google doesn't mention VMware by name, but the blog post downplays the benefits of using virtualization to build private clouds, and was published after VMware's private cloud announcement.
"There's quite a bit of talk these days about corporations building a 'private cloud' with concepts like virtualization, and there can be significant benefits to this approach," writes Google Apps senior product manager Rajen Sheth. "But those advantages are amplified greatly when customers use applications in the scalable data centers provided by companies like Google, Amazon, Salesforce.com and soon, Microsoft."
Some industry experts have contended that cloud computing cannot exist without virtualization. If true, that contention would certainly benefit VMware's business. But Google officials have said they do not virtualize production hardware and instead use a job scheduling system of Google's own design to manage its many thousands of servers.
Google's approach is the one best suited to providing businesses the scalability and cost-efficiency they need, Sheth contends. The public cloud doesn't have to be limited to small business customers, either, he writes, saying that the model's "advantages in cost and innovation continue to attract hundreds of thousands of companies of all sizes."
"In the virtualization approach of private datacenters, a company takes a server and subdivides it into many servers to increase efficiency," Sheth writes. "We do the opposite by taking a large set of low-cost commodity systems and tying them together into one large supercomputer.... Enterprise hardware components are designed to be very reliable, but they can never be 100 percent reliable, so enterprises spend a lot of time and money on maintenance. In contrast, we expect the hardware to fail, and design for reliability in the software such that, when the hardware does fail, customers are just shifted to another server."
VMware has taken exception to Google's blog posting, saying Google's approach works for the limited set of applications that Google delivers, but it can't provide the level of functionality most enterprises are looking for.