VMware: We're aiming to be a top 3 cloud provider

In Gartner's recent Magic Quadrant VMware fell far behind in the market, but executive say it's early yet.

Gartner's annual Magic Quadrant is a sort of who's who of the cloud computing market. And while VMware made the company's most recent list, it didn't receive the highest of marks.

VMware fell somewhere in the back half of the field when the research firm ranked the top 14 IaaS cloud providers (the ranking is based on a combination of revenue size, independent judgement, customer case studies and other criteria). But executives at the company say VMware is in the cloud market for the long haul, and the market is still in its early stages.

 VMware has been a dominant player in the hypervisor market, helping to initiate the entrance of virtual machines into the enterprise, then capitalize on the market. Just in recent years has Microsoft's competing Hyper-V virtualization platform given VMware substantial competition in the market.

But VMware's success in the hypervisor market has not necessarily translated into the cloud market. While ESX is a dominant hypervisor, and the company's suite of virtual machine management software is used frequently to deploy private clouds, it has not had a major public cloud push.

Last year the company changed that with the launch of vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS), it's answer to those criticisms. But in this year's Magic Quadrant report, Gartner says the company still has a long way to go.

One of the biggest knocks that Gartner took against VMware was that it doesn't appeal to developers in the same way that Amazon Web Services -- the clear market leader in this industry -- has been able to. Instead, VMware has been focusing its go-to-market strategy on IT decision makers and buyers in enterprises. VMware's pitch has been that its cloud is the natural public cloud landing spot for businesses that have virtualized their compute servers on VMware's software. But Gartner says that VMware hasn't won over the hearts and minds of the cloud-champions at businesses.

Gartner says:

 "vCHS has limited appeal to the business managers and application development leaders who are typically the key decision makers for cloud IaaS sourcing. VMware administrators in IT operations are the most likely champions of vCHS within a business, but they often prefer to build an internal private cloud, and they are also often the people that the business is trying to bypass by going to cloud IaaS. VMware needs to win over these administrators with regard to vCHS, but it also needs to develop a compelling value proposition for developers."  

 Mathew Lodge is VMware's VP of cloud services and says give the company time. vCHS only launched nine months ago, and Lodge says the company has big plans to offer developer-friendly capabilities in the coming months. (It's VMWorld annual conference is at the end of the summer and there may be some announcements related to this at that time.)

VMware has a dedicated team for application services working to improve vCHS, Lodge says. The company already announced support for Cloud Foundry, which is an open source platform as a service (PaaS) that's aimed specifically at application developers. vCHS supports not only the open source software, but also the distribution by Pivotal, which is a spin-out that's associated with VMware and its parent company EMC.

"We're very pleased with our progress," Lodge says about the company's cloud offerings. Of particular success has been the company's disaster recovery as a service -- he said seven out of 10 customer conversations are around using vCHS for DRaaS. While Lodge admits that the DRaaS market is a crowded one -- with companies like Sungard Availability Services, IBM and others offering options for customers as well -- he says vCHS is a natural public cloud to back up existing VMware workloads to. Many of VMware's current customers have backup and recovery plans in place for their tier 1 important applications, Lodge says. But, the company's recent success has been around establishing a backup and recovery plan for tier 2 and 3 services that did not previously have a backup strategy. VMware offers hosting of applications for $95 for 1 TB of data and $100 for additional TBs of data beyond that.

The other area VMware hopes to target are independent software vendors (ISVs). Lodge says VMware has a large community of software vendors who have optimized their services to run on VMware virtualized environments on customers premises. There's a new opportunity to turn those into cloud-based SaaS services that are hosted on vCHS.

In the Magic Quadrant report, Gartner noted VMware's partner community as an area that needs some building up; it pales in comparison to the leading public cloud marketplace associated with AWS's public cloud, which has hundreds of companies. Building up ISV's hosted on vCHS would help with that.

But VMware has some significant progress to make in its public cloud strategy. The company, for example, does not have any databases available in its public cloud. AWS has at least five options for customers to run various types of databases in its cloud, and literally dozens of others that partners have certified to run on its cloud. To support those, AWS has dozens of different types of virtual machines that users can specify to optimize their workloads for the best type of virtual machine with just the right amount of compute and memory capacity. By comparison, VMware has only a handful of options for customers in the area of VM sizes.

Lodge is right though, it's early yet. The market is still defining itself, but Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant shows that the definition of the market is becoming clearer with each passing year. Behind AWS stands Microsoft, and behind them is a long tail of other providers, including VMware. "We're not doing this with an aim to be a top 10 provider," Lodge says. "We want to be a top 3." With vendors like AWS, Microsoft, Google, Verizon, IBM, Rackspace, CenturyLink, CSC, Virtustream, Joyent, GoGrid, HP and Dimension Data would are all aiming for that positioning too.

This story, "VMware: We're aiming to be a top 3 cloud provider" was originally published by NetworkWorld.

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