VMware on




Almost a year after the initial announcement, the eagerly-awaited VMware Cloud on AWS is now available to customers.


Since the launch, both companies have been keen to highlight the benefits of the partnership. Businesses currently using a VMware software stack on their private cloud can now easily extend their virtualized data centre onto Amazon’s public cloud.


VMware’s decision to pair up with AWS came as a surprise to many in the industry. The growing popularity of AWS and other public cloud vendors created a real threat to the core business model of virtualisation and private cloud, which was pioneered by VMware in the early 2000’s.


In essence, this partnership sees VMware placing their core product into the hands of a previous arch rival.


But as tech blogger Richard Arnold pointed out in a recent post,  in some respects, the move makes perfect sense:


“VMware is extremely familiar to most organisations, it is a known and trusted technology. Some organisations may choose to do a lift and shift of their current VMware infrastructure to the cloud. When choosing to move from VMware to another cloud technology (e.g. native AWS) this would require a significant re-skilling process and potentially a costly redesign exercise. VMware on AWS would enable a far simpler transition as it is compatible with existing processes and skill sets”.


Exactly what this deal will mean for the future of cloud computing remains uncertain, but it has definitely shaken things up within the industry. In this article we’ll explore the most noteworthy features of this much-hyped joint venture.


VMware pull out of the public cloud market


The partnership with AWS came after VMware made the decision to sell their own public cloud offering, vCloud AirDeveloping data center management software is very different from managing the physical data centers themselves.


While VMware has proven track record of developing the virtualisation platform and management tools, it quickly realised it could not handle the process of running massive data centers spread across the globe.  After exiting the public cloud market in order to protect their core business, VMware made a wise move in subsequently partnering with the public cloud leader, AWS.


VMware’s customers were already making a move to AWS, eroding the revenue opportunity around vSphere and vCenter. With market spend clearly moving towards public cloud platforms, it would have been extremely challenging for VMware to convince customers to continue investing in its products.


The partnership with AWS eases the tension by enabling customers to use VMware products while still moving to the public cloud.


VMware piggybacking on AWS hardware


When it comes to infrastructure, VMware can take advantage of Amazon’s global footprint. Customers across the globe can choose a region closer to their existing data center for public cloud migration.


It simply wouldn’t have been possible for VMware to build the kind of infrastructure that AWS currently posses. Now, everytime Amazon announces a new region, VMware can piggyback on it without the need for huge expenditure and management expertise. This is a major win for VMware and its ecosystem.


The defining feature of this deal is that VMware gets to run its own complete stack on Amazon’s silicon. For example, it doesn’t have to abandon its own flagship hypervisor vSphere for the AWS equivalent, Xen.


Except for the underlying physical infrastructure, the VMware stack doesn’t have any dependencies on Amazon’s cloud services. The bottom line is that VMware has got the most reliable and widespread real estate provider to run its public cloud.


But what’s in it for AWS?


Private cloud computing has never been AWS’s strong suit. This represents a problem as despite its growing popularity, it is a known fact that certain business-critical workloads will never be moved to the public cloud.


But customers who have seen the benefits of public cloud are now seeking to establish similar capabilities in their in-house data centres. This is what Microsoft, AWS’ primary competitor,  is hoping to capitalise on.


If AWS doesn’t have a strong on-premises to cloud migration pathway, Microsoft’s Azure stack is ready and waiting to step in and take over the opportunity.


Amazon’s partnership with VMware counters this threat posed by the Azure Stack. With one stroke, AWS suddenly became a very attractive prospect for some of the largest enterprises already running the VMware stack in their on-premises data centres.


Even if customers do not  purchase any of Amazon’s proprietary software, their workloads will still run on AWS infrastructure. Ultimately, this will benefit Amazon’s profit margins.


AWS can now also leverage the massive sales force of VMware to drive their cloud adoption. Every new deal to VMware Cloud indirectly channels revenue to AWS.


What does this mean for Microsoft?


Microsoft is counting on the Azure stack to make on-premises to cloud migration as seamless as possible. VMware Cloud on AWS could indirectly help Microsoft in telling a cohesive story to customers about its unified hybrid cloud strategy. They will most likely emphasise the fact that Azure on-premises and Azure in the public cloud is a better combination than VMware on-premises and AWS in the public cloud.


It will be interesting to watch how Microsoft will respond to the partnership in the coming months.



On the whole, these changing market dynamics will benefit cloud customers in the long run. Cloud platform vendors are now beginning to focus their attention on making the move to the cloud as easy as possible, which is certainly a welcome sign.