Public cloud battle for the enterprise heats up

VMware frets about threat from "commodity public cloud"

The battle for the enterprise is on.

CRN reports on comments made by VMware execs during the company’s Partner Exchange conference showing that the company appears to be waking up to the opportunity in the public cloud. The comments come just a week after news about Amazon Web Services and Google both doing more to target enterprises.

CRN quotes VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger saying:

"We want to own the corporate workload. We all lose if they end up in these commodity public clouds. We want to extend our franchise from the private cloud into the public cloud and uniquely enable our customers with the benefits of both. Own the corporate workload now and forever."

With big names like AWS and Google setting their sites on enterprises, VMware is right to be nervous.

battle_0.jpgSource: HJ Media Studios, via Flickr
The battle for the enterprise is on.

Given all the buzz around cloud services and around Amazon’s position as far and away the leader in the public cloud market, it might seem that VMware is coming a bit late to the party.

But in fact enterprises have been incredibly slow adopting public cloud services, so much so that providers like AWS and Google have been getting more serious about trying to lure them in.

It’s hard to know exactly how many enterprises are using cloud services from AWS, by far the biggest public cloud service provider. Cloudyn, a company that monitors AWS usage for customers, recently posted an infographic about its customer base. It found that more than half – 53 percent – of its customers have between one and 50 employees. Businesses with 1,001 to 10,000+ make up just 11 percent of Cloudyn customers.

Cloudyn has 260 customers and who knows if they happen to skew one way or the other. But my sense, based on conversations with a host of people across the cloud industry, is its customer base sounds reflective of the broader AWS customer base.

Even the scant number of enterprises that are using AWS are primarily doing so for test and dev rather than full deployment of apps, meaning there’s a ton of room for public clouds to win enterprise business.

AWS appears to know this and recognize how much enterprise business is out there and how important it is to capture that business early. Last week, Business Insider said it counted 75 job openings at AWS for sales people whose job it is to target enterprises, around the world. That’s a big expansion and indicates that AWS is planning to get serious about signing up enterprises.

Google also appears to be trying to court enterprises with the recent addition of new support services.

AWS and Google aren't the only threats. While VMware last year came out in support of OpenStack, most OpenStack clouds aren't based on VMware. Some of the traditional enterprise vendors like IBM and HP are planning to build or already have built public clouds based on OpenStack. In fact, there may even be signs of some providers shifting away from VMware -- Dell, for instance, has a VMware-based public cloud but plans to launch an OpenStack cloud next year. The company will continue to run both clouds, but offering customers a choice means competition for the VMware-based cloud.

That's not all to say that VMware has no stake in the public cloud market today. It has service provider partners around the world running public clouds based on its Vcloud technology. And at the conference it introduced a number of new services for its partner customers to help them in their public cloud efforts.

But Gelsinger spelled it right out when he said that VMware and its partners have a lot to lose if enterprises go with AWS or other public cloud services. VMware has a solid foot in the door at the enterprise, so it’s its business to lose.

Read more of Nancy Gohring's "To the Cloud" blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @ngohring. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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