Hey VMware: You love OpenStack now, right? So why the smack talk?

Speakers:
Pat Gelsinger - CEO, VMware

Wow, talk about passive-aggressive. On Monday, as VMware announced “VMware-integrated OpenStack” to make it easier to bridge VMware and OpenStack environments, VMware’s CEO threw OpenStack under a bus.

Most VMware users “sort of yawn” when the topic is OpenStack, Pat Gelsinger told the Wall Street Journal (registration required): “It’s just not relevant to them.”

Okay, I get it. VMware wants to lure OpenStack users into its camp, to make OpenStack “enterprise-ready.” It’s a member of the OpenStack Foundation by virtue of its Nicira acquisition, and as VMware CTO Chris Wolf told me last week, VMware’s contributions to OpenStack are nothing to be sneezed (or yawned) at.

So why would VMware’s top guy dismiss OpenStack even as he wants to woo OpenStack users? It’s counterproductive. For one thing, VMware still has a credibility issue with the open source–oriented contingent that views its technology as proprietary and expensive. It also faces an array of earlier-to-the-party OpenStack players —  Red Hat, IBM, HP — who are already well down that enterprise OpenStack track.

VMware is in an interesting situation. It pretty much owns server virtualization inside big companies’ on-premises data centers. But it’s seen that core virtualization business under fire. And, when it comes to public cloud it’s behind the eight-ball compared to Amazon Web Services, and now Microsoft and Google options. So it not only needs to keep existing VMware shops on the reservation, but attract new business as well. That’s where OpenStack comes in.

Sure, OpenStack has its problems. It’s still a collection of modules that need to be knit together and and tested. But it also has a large cadre of devoted followers, many of whom still see VMware as the enemy. Comments like this aren’t helping.

VMware has long been of two minds on OpenStack. Gelsinger previously said it’s not ready for enterprise use but also pledged support, so his comment here follows in that tradition. But that circles back to VMware’s primary problem, which is that many enterprises (not just open source fanatics) see VMware’s technologies — referred to collectively by some as vSoup — as pricey and smacking of vendor lock-in.

Sony, Disney, Best Buy, Comcast, Wells Fargo and, yes, Paypal, use OpenStack. That’s not a yawn.  So to say that VMware shops — and I’m betting all of the aforementioned companies fall into that category — are not interested in OpenStack is just not true.

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