Google gives VMware huge public cloud boost

VMware adds Google’s massive cloud collection to its catalog

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VMware announced a partnership with Google Thursday that could go a long way toward making VMware more competitive in the public cloud market.

By enabling its vCloud Air public cloud service to work with Google’s massive public cloud platform, VMware will expose its customers to Google services such as object storage, BigQuery, Cloud Datastore database and DNS platform. Google services will be integrated with vCA by mid-year, the companies said.

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The partnership is important for VMware as it attempts to compete in the cloud market against Microsoft and Amazon. VMware has the least mature public cloud offering among its competitors, but by partnering with Google it immediately adds scale and important IaaS features. From Google’s perspective, this partnership will expose its cloud platform to VMware’s enterprise customers, an audience Google is attempting to penetrate. 

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger on Thursday told Network World that the alliance is a “win-win” for both companies. It combines VMware’s strength in the on-premises market with Google’s huge scale in the public cloud. “What they have so well complements what we have,” Gelsinger said. “Bringing those together in the vCloud service brings our customers services that allow them to significantly extend workloads into the cloud.”

Gelsinger says if all goes well he could envision expanding the breadth of services that VMware supports in Google’s cloud. In blog posts announcing the news today, VMware officials hinted at further integrations in the future that would connect the company’s popular on-premises management software to Google’s public cloud, but it did not provide further details or a timeline for that.

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VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger says the company's partnership with Google's Cloud Platform is a "win-win" for both companies.  

But, VMware will not integrate with all aspects of Google’s cloud. The partnership does not connect Google Compute Engine (virtual machines on demand). VMware has its own compute offering in vCA. Gelsinger said VMware will focus its development efforts on the aspects that are truly important for hybrid cloud computing: services like disaster recovery and backup as a service, and advanced networking connections between on-premises and the cloud through its NSX software. Google’s cloud will be used by customers to scale out applications and workloads to larger sizes.

Google’s Cloud Platform will be integrated directly into the vCA portal for VMware customers. Customers will have access to and support of Google Cloud services at no extra charge - they’ll just pay for whatever Google services they use alongside any VMware services. Google cloud’s APIs will work natively in vCA and the two companies are linking their networks to create dedicated private traffic connections between the clouds.

Analysts today said that the partnership is a big move in the IaaS cloud. Forrester research James Staten said it boils down to a simple formula for VMware when it considered partnering with Google: “If you can’t beat them, join them,” he said. It is clearly a move for both VMware and Google to take on the market leader in IaaS: Amazon Web Services.

Staten agrees the partnership will benefit both companies though. Google has struggled to gain traction in the enterprise and for VMware to build out a public cloud that would rival AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google would have been expensive and a long-term project. Almost instantaneously VMware gets access to a large public cloud and Google gets exposure to the enterprise market. “This is going to make it very easy to try out Google services,” Staten said, which could be a risk for VMware: if customers like Google’s platform enough, they may cut out the middle-man and work directly with Google’s Cloud Platform. Staten says VMware will have to “tip-toe” around this agreement to expose some scale-out public cloud resources, while maintaining the application management tools that solidify VMware’s relationship with its customers.

Despite the move, Staten believes both VMware and Google still have an uphill battle against Microsoft and especially AWS. AWS has even larger scale and a wider set of cloud-based offerings compared to Google (including a new email platform it announced yesterday). Meanwhile Microsoft has a strong hybrid cloud message with the combination of its Systems Center on-premises software and Azure public cloud. That’s a more unified approach compared to VMware’s strong vSphere private cloud and its add-on public cloud from Google, Staten says.

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