But that doesn't mean customers will immediately gobble up IaaS from VMware. The company has some challenges rolling the product out, Bartoletti says. For one, Amazon Web Services has made its hay appealing to developers who jump ship from IT to get fast, cheap access to virtual machines and storage. VMware will likely be going after a very different audience: the infrastructure, virtualization and ops folks in IT shops. But how do they feel about embracing the cloud? Some see cloud computing as a threat to their own jobs and have questions about security, compliance, and whether the cloud is ready for mission-critical apps.
In some ways, VMware has an advantage over other IaaS cloud providers because of the common management platform, though. "They can go to the infrastructure operators in IT shops and say, 'Hey, all your management tools are right here,'" Bartoletti explains. VMware has had public cloud offerings through its vCloud Director partner ecosystem, but that's garnered disappointing market adoption; a VMware-owned and -operated public cloud could have a different market presence, he says.
Providing an infrastructure stack with a common management platform between the public and private cloud isn't enough to win in the IaaS world, though, says Wayne Pauley, a researcher at Enterprise Strategy Group. "Having the infrastructure is sort of table-stakes for the IaaS market now," Pauley says. "There has to be a service catalog on top of that." That's where VMware could face steep competition from Microsoft, he says. Microsoft has Systems Center, Azure Cloud, and Office 365 apps all integrated in its ecosystem.
VMware does have some opportunities in services, though -- most notably its virtual networking strategy it acquired from Nicira and that it announced along with the hybrid cloud plans this week.
Another big question about VMware's hybrid cloud is what it means for VMware's partner network. The company continually claims to be a partner-focused company, but its new IaaS offering could be quite a snub to existing vCloud Director ecosystem partners. But there are some ways the company could smooth over partner relations, analysts say.
For one, partners can differentiate on service offerings geared specifically at various industry verticals. There can be a VMware HIPAA-certified cloud provider, another focusing on government clients, for example. Another way to assuage partners is to use their resources.
VMware is traditionally a software company, not an infrastructure management company, so unlike other big-name companies that have rolled out a major IaaS offering -- think HP, Dell, and IBM -- VMware doesn't have a ready set of massive data centers all around the country ready to host this offering in.
"Using VSPP partner's data centers and white-labeling existing infrastructure would both soothe hurt feelings and give VMware an ability to source and deploy new cloud locations extremely quickly, with minimal investment," says 451 Research Group analyst Carl Brooks.
VMware is still in the very early days of its IaaS rollout, though. Even though it's been rumored for months, the company just confirmed its plans this week, which is a little late compared to many of the other providers that have jumped into this market. The devil's in the details, Bartoletti says. VMware is not releasing information about how the service will be set up or priced. Until more details emerge, it's a wait and see.
Network World senior writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.