VMware vs. Google in the cloud

Now that VMware has launched Vsphere, its cloud computing OS, the virtualization company is beginning to rub Google the wrong way. Seems VMware is pushing virtualization as the one and only fail-proof approach to cloud computing and Google just doesn't agree. The argument centers on this: What's the best way to approach cloud computing, in a private data center via hardware virtualization ala VMware or in a public cloud via Google's software-is-king approach?

According to Virtualization.Info's Alessandro Perilli, VMware CEO Paul Maritz, speaking at VMWorld Europe in February, said (unsurprisingly) that virtualization is really the only viable enterprise-ready paradigm for cloud computing. To that, Google's response is simply "nonsense." Google has achieved far greater economies of scale, reliability and performance simply by harnessing low-cost computers with great software--all without virtualization (here's Google's answer, in its entirety).

But the real litmus test is which approach best addresses enterprise needs, both today and in the future. Should an enterprise invest in building cloud-like capabilities for internal applications (as VMware proposes) or is it better to offload such tasks and applications to a big cloud company like Google, Amazon, Salesforce or even Microsoft?

Where enterprises will probably get the best bang for their buck is when they can use cloud computing both internally and externally, seamlessly switching back and forth (and cloud to cloud) as their needs require. So yes, VMware has a point when it focuses on private data center cloud computing, that's important. Enterprises can't just dump every internal application they currently run and move to an external cloud. But Google also has a point when it says that big cloud vendors--and their designed-for-the-cloud apps--offer better economies of scale, management and support.

The right answer is enterprises need both--and they need it all to work together seamlessly. Unfortunately, as it stands now, the cloud-to-cloud part (be it private or public) has yet to be hammered out. In fact, Google's Vint Cerf just posted a blog on the challenges, and questions surrounding, cloud-to-cloud computing.

So VMware and Google can spar all they like. But if Internet gurus like Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee are still trying to figure it out, how can enterprise IT?

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