After months of rumor and anticipation, VMware, the hypervisor and virtualization giant, finally made public its intent to later this year launch its vCloud® Hybrid Service, a public infrastructure-as–a-service (IaaS) cloud. To date, discussions around this expected announcement have focused on alleged competition from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the anticipated impact on VMware’s relationship with service providers such as Savvis and Terremark, and the company’s rationale behind this move, e.g., turf and client protection, stagnated growth thrust, declining market valuation, and dissatisfaction with its partner network.
Here, Everest Group is broadening the view, looking at how this move is furthering the disruption in the cloud provider landscape, and highlighting the dynamic nature of this space.
The line of demarcation between types of technology providers is increasingly blurring, and in the cloud arena at a dizzying pace. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, historically focused on catering to individuals and small and medium businesses, has become one of the biggest challengers to the enterprise infrastructure stalwarts such as IBM and HP. Oracle, the enterprise software and database giant, launched its acquisitions-enabled IaaS offering earlier this year. Although its primary competitor used to be SAP, its move into the cloud space places it in competition with companies such as Salesforce.com, Workday, and NetSuite. Now VMware, traditionally considered a virtualization software provider, is entering the cloud domain in an effort to protect its market share, despite the risk of antagonizing and competing with its own partners.
This rapidly evolving and “foggy” provider landscape leaves buyers confused as their options are constantly changing. In addition to cloud-related concerns such as security and compliance, existing clients must now also worry about whether they should stick with the current provider or switch to a new one. They have to evaluate their key parameters for selecting a cloud service provider, and assess the benefits and pitfalls of making a provider switch.
For example, consider the options facing current VMware plus cloud services clients:
- Shift to VMware’s new cloud offering: In this scenario, the buyer will shift to VMware’s new public cloud offering, leaving its old service provider. This option gives the buyer a compelling value proposition – the entire cloud value chain is managed by one provider, and there’s full compatibility between VMware’s public and private clouds. Yet, although VMware becomes the one-stop-shop for all the buyer’s cloud-based needs, it becomes locked in with one single technology and reliance on one single provider. The buyer must also consider whether VMware will be as innovative as other IaaS providers in terms of pricing, service level agreements, termination clauses, technology advancements, etc.
- Continue with the existing VMware partner provider: In this option, the buyers continue to procure cloud services from their existing VMware-based cloud partner provider. However, as different cloud service providers (especially AWS, Rackspace, and Terremark) penetrate enterprises and aggressively market their innovations, these clients are increasingly finding it difficult to defend their strategy of continuing with their existing VMware-based cloud partner, as they are perceived as a mere extension of the traditional datacenter model.
- Shift to other providers/cloud technologies: VMware’s presence in client’s datacenter is undeniable. However, many buyers are adopting cloud solutions that are different than VMware, and this is threatening VMware’s broad dominance. We believe this trend will continue, as, despite significant investments in VMware for their datacenters, buyers are more than willing to deploy solutions from other cloud providers.
Everest Group nearly a year ago called out this cloud provider choice conundrum, noting that attempts to help the buyer community is actually creating greater confusion. Buyers of cloud services need to be on their highest guard to ensure that, unlike traditional datacenters, they do not end up in a complex labyrinth of technologies that make their environment even worse than what it is today.