Amazon woos VMware admins (and workloads) with new portal

AWS: Reinvent

Interesting. Late Friday, Amazon Web Services announced a portal that it says will make VMware admins comfortable managing workloads in the Amazon cloud. This is just the latest push by the public cloud vendor to say it can facilitate, even nurture,  hybrid cloud deployment.

The move makes total sense since nearly every enterprise runs VMware virtualization in-house. One of the vendor’s big advantages, and one that it hopes will parlay into adoption of its vCloud Hybrid Services cloud, is an army of VM admins in customer shops who see their expertise as job security. If AWS can woo them with a familiar look-and-feel and a VMware-centric way to view and manage Amazon resources, well, that’s all good for Amazon, no?

And maybe not so good for VMware, said Sebastian Stadil, CEO of Scalr, a cloud management company. This portal “reduces the value of [VMware]  hybrid cloud services to practically nothing. It’s also a trojan horse,” he said via email. That’s because VMware admins can keep using vCenter, which they’ve bought and paid for and which they know well, to provision EC2 instances. But, “it also allows them to migrate workloads off VMware onto EC2 and still  manage them,” he said.

David Mytton, president of Server Density, a website and server management provider, said AWS wants to reduce the friction of deploying into public cloud if the customer already runs VMware.

“VMware said they wouldn’t be competing on price but around their features and management tools. This is AWS saying it will compete on both because you can now launch AWS instances as if they were part of your VMware environment. If that’ snot hybrid, nothing is,” Mytton said.

The AWS Management Portal for vCenter (Amazon appears to be getting its naming conventions from Microsoft, god help us). According to the AWS blog post announcing this tidbit:

 

If you are already using VMware vCenter to manage your virtualized environment, you will be comfortable in this new environment right away, even if you are new to AWS, starting with the integrated sign-on process, which is integrated with your existing Active Directory.

The look-and-feel and the workflow that you use to create new AWS resources will be familiar and you will be launching EC2 instances before too long. You can even import your existing “golden” VMware images to EC2 through the portal (this feature makes use of VM Import).

Cloud watchers really shouldn’t be surprised by this move. Amazon has been wooing enterprise accounts for years now and to do that it has to deal with their legacy workloads — many of which run in VMware and/or Microsoft environments.

Gigaom Research Analyst MSV Janakiram, borrowing a phrase from Microsoft’s heyday, said this portal is a “nice way to embrace and extend VMware enterprise deployments.” He pointed out that Amazon offered an analogous product for Microsoft System Center last year

This is not a one way street however, VMware admins can also orchestrate Amazon EC2 via a  VMware plug in.

So the cloudscape continues go get interesting with enterprise players pushing into the public cloud and Amazon going the other way. As luck would have it our guest on this week’s Structure podcast is VMware SVP Bill Fathers, who discusses the competitive landscape. that interview starts at about minute 8 if you want to cut to the chase. Both Fathers and Amazon CTO Werner Vogels will be at Structure in a few weeks and you can bet this battle of the titans will be one topic on the agenda.

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