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VMware-AWS hybrid cloud challenges OpenStack

The VMware-AWS hybrid cloud partnership pressures OpenStack supporters to simplify deployment of the open source cloud platform in the enterprise.

VMware's plans to release next year a hybrid cloud technology for Amazon Web Services, or AWS, moves the virtualization vendor a step ahead of OpenStack supporters still trying to reduce the complexity of the open source cloud platform.

VMware is preparing to provide customers a single set of tools for migrating workloads between their private cloud and the AWS public cloud. Essentially, the VMware-AWS hybrid cloud provides unified networking, storage, CPU and security services customers can deploy across their data center and Amazon's.

The single platform -- the result of a partnership announced last week -- competes directly with OpenStack as a hybrid cloud platform. "OpenStack is the guy in the middle of all of this, and [it] is the guy that probably has the most to lose by the two of them teaming up," said John Fruehe, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, based in Austin, Texas.

The race to provide the best hybrid cloud technology is driven by projected market demand. A survey of more than 6,100 enterprises in 31 countries found 44% prepared to increase cloud spending over the next two years, according to IDC. More than 70% of heavy cloud users were pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy. In 2015, overall spending on infrastructure products for cloud IT reached $29 billion, an increase of nearly 22% from the previous year.

VMware-AWS hybrid cloud

OpenStack is the guy in the middle of all of this, and [it] is the guy that probably has the most to lose by the two of them teaming up.
John Frueheanalyst at Moor Insights & Strategy

The Amazon-VMware partnership matches the largest public cloud provider with the leader in data center virtualization. As a result, each side benefits from the strengths of the other: VMware gets to sell its technology for a mature infrastructure-as-a-service provider, and Amazon gets a portion of the revenue.

"When it comes to hybrid clouds, this is definitely an immediate advantage for VMware [over rivals]," said André Kindness, an analyst at Forrester Research.

The companies' high expectations for the VMware-AWS hybrid cloud are reflected in the tightness of the technology agreement. Amazon is providing dedicated resources for VMware software to run on top of bare-metal computer hardware -- a first for AWS.

The glue for the VMware-AWS hybrid cloud is NSX, VMware's software-defined networking technology. NSX is a "key enabler" of the integration, said Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates Inc., based in Boulder, Colo.

"NSX provides the perfect overlay for a hybrid cloud," he said. "You can basically take a virtual network in your data center and replicate that in AWS with this new solution."

OpenStack complexity

While VMware moves ahead with Amazon, OpenStack remains a challenge for enterprises to deploy as a hybrid cloud platform. OpenStack providers, such as Red Hat and Mirantis, are providing the management tools to make OpenStack easier to use, but the platform still falls short of what enterprises need.

For example, compatibility with AWS' computing service is incomplete, and the interface to the cloud provider's storage is slow, according to TechTarget contributor Jim O'Reilly, president of the cloud consultancy Volanto.

While the platform is maturing, OpenStack is far from mainstream in the enterprise today, Gartner analyst Arun Chandrasekaran told attendees of an IT summit in June.

"Many of the initial private cloud implementations have failed to deliver meaningful value to the enterprise because of technology immaturity and the inability of enterprise IT to have skilled people on staff or hire them," he said.

To fill the gap, enterprise technology providers Cisco and IBM have launched over the last couple of years OpenStack services for deploying private and hybrid clouds.

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