Meanwhile, IBM — the first cloud provider to partner with VMware — seemed to quietly chug along, providing cloud infrastructure to more than 1,000 enterprises already running their VMware environments on IBM Cloud. These customers include Australian telco Telstra; data services firm Clarient Global; and Dream Payments, a mobile payments platform provider.
VMware and IBM teamed up in February 2016, promising to help enterprises easily move their workloads from on-premises data centers to the cloud. Most companies already use VMware’s software-defined data center products, said Don Boulia, IBM’s GM of Cloud Developer Services.
“This is a controlled move to the cloud where not everything is changing at once,” Boulia said. “They’ve got the familiar toolset from VMware, and we can provide the cloud infrastructure. To avoid adding extra data center capacity, they can choose to run that next workload in the IBM Cloud.”
IBM Cloud Footprint
IBM’s global cloud footprint spans 59 data centers across 19 countries. It offers the VMware cloud service in 21 locations worldwide.
This global presence differentiates IBM’s hybrid cloud partnership, Boulia said. VMware Cloud on AWS is initially available in the AWS U.S. West (Oregon) region. It will expand to AWS regions worldwide in 2018, according to VMware.
“A key part of the feedback we get is the fact that we already have a worldwide footprint,” Boulia said. “For a lot of clients that is very important, staying in-country [to comply with] regulations, but also to have that latency and security.”
“We’ve done a lot in collaboration with VMware as well as HyTrust and Intel to provide a secure enterprise environment,” Boulia said. “Usually one of the key stumbling blocks in moving to the cloud is that security posture. And we have a fair amount of experience with this consumer base. If anyone is associated with the enterprise, it’s IBM.”
In a blog post about the VMware-IBM partnership, Charles King, Pund-IT’s president and principal analyst, wrote that the relationship between the two companies is “pretty darned healthy.”
A Tale of Two Hybrid Clouds
“The VMware-AWS agreement is a pretty big deal for both companies,” he told SDxCentral. “But it’s also extremely different from the relationship and solution that VMware has with IBM Cloud.”
IBM Cloud is more attuned to the needs of large enterprises and public agencies, King said, using its global cloud infrastructure as an example.
“Rather than developing mega data centers in the U.S. like AWS and Google, IBM has built out a larger number of smaller data centers and those have been geographically placed so that they can fulfill regulatory compliance issues around customers’ data. This issue is particularly important in areas like Europe where certain kinds of data must be secured within a specific geographical boundary.”
IBM services are more tailored to enterprises as well, he added. “There are other IBM cloud services, Bluemix is a good example, that are far more robust and muscular solutions that anything that AWS offers.” Bluemix is IBM’s cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
King said he doesn’t expect the newer VMware partnership with AWS to have a substantial impact on its relationship with IBM.
IBM vs. AWS
IDC analyst Deepak Mohan agreed that the two partnerships are very different. But he said it’s too early to tell if VMware Cloud on AWS will steal customers from IBM Cloud for VMware Solutions.
“The customers moving to IBM Cloud are primarily VMware customers that want to take advantage of the global scale IBM has, and scale as needed and when needed without the cost of creating a new point of presence,” Mohan said. “On the other hand, VMware Coud on AWS customers want to access the AWS ecosystem and all the rest of the tools AWS offers — the database, analytics framework, Lambda, all the new things they are introducing into their cloud.”
Check back in on both partnerships in six months to a year, he added.
“Bluemix is growing very fast,” Mohan said. “At the same time, AWS is investing more in making sure it looks like an enterprise cloud. The roadmap and the execution will really determine where these two are in a year from now.”