Amazon AWS recently announced an integration with VMware vSphere Client. It gives administrators the ability to import VM’s straight from their vSphere library into an AWS instance. This has me asking the question, do AWS and VMware solutions actually compete for the same customer.
Amazon’s AWS shines when customers are looking to build applications such as Netflix that scale out opposed to traditional packaged software solutions such as Microsoft SQL that scale up. In the example of Netflix, if the load increases on the Netflix Streaming application then Netflix just spins up additional virtual machines to handle the load. When the load decreases then you turn down the VM’s.
However, if a Microsoft SQL database needs to increase performance then you increase the memory and/or CPU of the VM. If the SQL DB performance requirements decrease then, you can decrease the resources on a single VM. This is the difference between scale out and scale up when it comes to cloud computing.
VMware’s Cloud service appeals to enterprises looking to maintain that scale up mentality. The vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) API’s are not the main selling point of the solution. The selling point is that it’s a familiar way for VMware administrators to administer Cloud resources. This is one of the main reasons vCHS is marketed as an extension of an existing environment opposed to a pure public Cloud solution. I don’t see many Internet startups looking to deploy their new application on vCHS.
The two companies are coming at the market from two different directions. VMware is trying to leverage their strength in enterprise infrastructure and expand it to Cloud (They do have an interesting story in sister company Pivotal). AWS is trying to get the enterprise to think differently about computing in general. AWS’ approach to enterprise computing is a radical departure from the current IT centric model. This is the driver behind the vSphere Client plug-in.
The plug-in provides a familiar interface for the VMware customer. AWS approaches compute around data with the VM as an ephemeral concept. This is very different than vSphere’s VM centric view and difficult for many administrators to understand. The plug-in allows AWS to compete directly with vCHS with organizations looking for a platform to scale up their workloads. This isn’t a seamless experience, but it does give the enterprise a way to dabble with AWS without much training.
Ultimately, the decision between the two services will be around application architecture strategy. If organizations continue to leverage packaged software then, VMware’s vCHS fits well just as long as cost isn’t too far out of line. VMware has proved to date that they can continue to charge a premium for their products. However, if the plan is to build net new applications that scale out then AWS is a compelling solution from a cost and capability perspective.