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In the past, VMware and Oracle had a hostile relationship, which often shifted support responsibilities to their customers. The two have now forged an agreement, which the vendors hope might ease management of legacy applications and enable cloud cooperation. However, this alliance might have a minimal effect on the public cloud market.
Oracle finally acknowledged and now supports VMware's preeminent virtualization position in the data center. In turn, VMware has helped customers move workloads to Oracle Generation 2 Cloud Infrastructure.
Large organizations that employ both Oracle and VMware systems should benefit from the thawing in this formerly frosty relationship.
The Oracle-VMware feud
For decades, the two vendors squabbled. Oracle developed virtualization software to compete with VMware that gained little traction.
"Oracle was very stubborn in its unwillingness to work with VMware," said Gary Chen, a research director at IDC.
Oracle refused to acknowledge VMware's top position and refused to service customers running its software on VMware VMs. As a result, many businesses found troubleshooting Oracle or VMware glitches vexing and difficult.
Now, the two support their joint clients. Many companies should benefit from this because the two vendors provide the foundation for many organizations' mission-critical systems: VMware's virtualization line and Oracle's database management systems, back-office and front-office applications.
The move away from legacy systems
However, the building blocks for such applications are currently changing. Organizations increasingly move from traditional, on-premises data centers to the public cloud. In fact, IDC forecasts worldwide spending on public cloud services and infrastructure to increase from $210 billion in 2019 to $370 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 22.5%.
As a result, many corporations use a mix of private, hybrid and public cloud systems. These organizations often face challenges in moving and managing their applications because the design of on-premises-based and cloud-based systems differ, sometimes radically. Such companies often operate multiple autonomous groups: one for the legacy systems and another for the public cloud services. This approach becomes increasingly inefficient as cloud system management takes up more and more of the total workload.
Rather than deploy multiple management tools that require separate support teams, many organizations now want one set of tools that works with all their environments. VMware positioned VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) as the glue tying the different pieces together. The software stack supports many infrastructure services, including storage, virtualization, networking and management, regardless of the platform.
Per the agreement, VCF now runs in the second generation of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). The stack relies on VMware's software-defined data center building blocks: vSphere, NSX and vSAN.
Holger MuellerVice president and principal analyst, Constellation Research
Implications of the VMware-Oracle alliance
This partnership provides VMware and Oracle customers with increased flexibility. Businesses no longer must retest software when moving their legacy VMs to the cloud, which optimizes the often time-consuming testing and validation process, according to Holger Mueller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research Inc., a research and advisory firm based out of Silicon Valley, Calif.
Each vendor also potentially benefits from the agreement.
"Oracle needs more load for OCI; VMware wants to get their software in all clouds," Mueller said.
Other beneficial VMware partnerships
VMware has been trying to position itself as a leader in the multi-cloud management market. Ninety-three percent of corporations run more than one cloud application, according to IDC, which highlights the demand for such products.
To deliver multi-cloud management capabilities, VMware partnered with several leading public cloud suppliers: AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM and, now, Oracle. All VMware's agreements are similar in nature but have nuances in their implementation.
VMware supplies first-line support with AWS. In addition, the two vendors developed Outposts, a turnkey product that enables companies to deploy AWS appliances in their on-premises data centers. As part of its agreements with Microsoft and Google, VMware channel partners provide technical support. VMware and IBM share support responsibilities as part of their agreement.
The Oracle alliance introduced another variation. Oracle is now a member of the VMware Cloud Provider Program and sells VCF with its cloud applications. Oracle supplies all support, which offers organizations flexibility in how they manage their cloud services. Such corporations can either hand the support work over to Oracle or manage support tasks such as versioning, patching and migrating themselves.
A murky future for VMware and Oracle
In the short term, the joint agreement should help large businesses. The clearer support channels should ease the stress that arises when problems occur.
However, the long-term effect remains uncertain because Oracle stumbled out of the gate in delivering public cloud services, and many potential customers don't consider it a top supplier.
"Gen 1 of the Oracle cloud solutions did not do well," said Sid Nag, vice president of cloud services and technologies at Gartner, an IT service management company based out of Stamford, Conn. "[Oracle] hired new personnel and put together a well-thought-out architecture. They have been trying to promote it, but it is too early to say how much of an impact it will have."
Pricing might also present an issue. Legacy software sometimes cost more than the cloud. Oracle and VMware have both had high licensing fees, which might diminish interest in their joint public cloud services.