VMware Takes Over EMC’s Mozy Cloud Storage Service

VMware (s vmw) is officially entering the service provider market by buying taking over the operations of the Mozy cloud-based storage service from parent company EMC (s emc). VMware CTO Steven Herrod announced the news on his blog today, writing that “VMware has hired the team and acquired assets behind EMC’s Mozy cloud-based data protection service” and that “VMware will operate the Mozy service on behalf of EMC without interruption.” Aside from the immediate benefit of selling cloud-based backup services, though VMware almost certainly made this purchase move with an eye toward the future of its own products and offerings.

The news sparked some debate on Twitter as to whether the operational acquisition will result in VMware cannibalizing sales from its service provider customers, but that isn’t necessarily the case. After all, Mozy already offers a reseller program for service providers, so VMware won’t be stealing any business that EMC wasn’t already doing already. Further, VMware’s vCloud service provider customers tend to target large business customers, so their cloud-storage visions might be more along the lines of an enterprise-grade like what EMC used to offer with its Atmos service. If anything, VMware probably will help out its service provider customers that want a white label backup service targeting consumers and SMBs, which is Mozy’s sweet spot. VMware did something very similar with the Zimbra collaboration tools it bought last year.

More important in the long run might be Herrod’s statements that being directly engaged in operating Mozy “will further ramp our own cloud-related learning and accelerate new IP, scale, and capabilities into the products that we provide to our customers and public cloud partners” and that “we also see the opportunity to leverage Mozy’s data compression, synchronization, client integration, and analytic tools to extend several existing and not-yet-announced VMware products.”

You see, VMware is on a mission (sub req’d) to give customers an end-to-end cloud computing experience, whether they choose to use public, private or hybrid resources. Whatever VMware learns from operating Mozy will not only improve that service, but also its own on-premise virtualization tools that will increasingly need to operate even more efficiently and at greater scale. When everything works together, and as cloud computing catches on, it won’t matter as much where customers’ applications run as they long as they receive a unified experience. It’s not alone in this quest, of course — HP (s hpq), Microsoft (s msft), IBM (s ibm), Red Hat (s rht) and others certainly are trying to build similar experiences — but VMware’s headstart in virtualization has given it a lead.

But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that VMware is looking to operate a cloud service at all. Although it hasn’t received much press, the company did tease attendees at October’s Ruby Conference with a public-facing platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering called Cloud OS that supports a variety of languages, including Java, Ruby, Python and .NET. There hasn’t been any official product announcement around that news — although it also would make a great service to resell to IaaS-provider customers — but it does demonstrate a willingness on VMware’s part to offer cloud services.

You can hear a lot more about VMware’s cloud ambitions at our upcoming Structure 2011 event, being held June 22-23 in San Francisco, where VMware CEO Paul Maritz is among the keynote speakers.

Photo courtesy Flickr user cote.