BACKGROUND IMAGE: iSTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
Strategic technology partnerships are a simple concept. Ideally, one company creates a relationship with another, and both companies work together to become more successful. If only it was that easy.
In reality, IT product and service partnerships rarely work out. When I was a CTO, I actually viewed them as a distraction. They might seem like a good idea at the outset, but both companies tend to move in directions that serve their own self-interests.
Recent AWS partnerships, however, could yield some different outcomes. How much does AWS stand to gain financially from partnerships with Red Hat and VMware? What are the benefits and drawbacks of Amazon aligning with these AWS partners? And what does it all mean for AWS' hybrid cloud strategy?
AWS partnerships aim to fill on-premises gaps
The recent pattern of AWS partnerships reveals that it's all about filling gaps that the cloud provider doesn't want to fill itself. This includes anything within the enterprise firewall or on premises.
As enterprises make their way to the public cloud, they often deal with traditional systems that still need to work well in a private cloud. It's not in AWS' best interest to sell enterprise software, so it relies on partners to accommodate those legacy needs.
But the cloud provider sometimes chooses odd partners, such as VMware, who has clearly been impacted by AWS' success. VMware has attempted to reach the same level of success with private cloud as it has with virtualization, but most enterprises have opted for public, rather than private, cloud. This has left VMware with its nose pressed up against the cloud computing glass, and the same can be said for Red Hat.
Many consider VMware and Red Hat fixtures in enterprise data centers. But AWS viewed them as a means to an end, filling gaps in its on-premises story. Through these partnerships, AWS hoped enterprises that were on the fence would move into the cloud, now that VMware and Red Hat technologies would play well with its services.
These AWS partnerships nudge Amazon into more of a hybrid cloud direction but allow it to keep focus on its own platform. Amazon can pair its public cloud services with its partners' private cloud services, creating canned systems enterprises can quickly set up and run. AWS can do this without veering from its predominantly public cloud strategy, which has served it well.
Hybrid clouds, however, have been more popular in theory than in practice. It's pretty rare to pair up new private and public cloud deployments, but hybrid clouds that connect traditional enterprise systems with public clouds seem to be growing in popularity. Many traditional enterprise systems run on Windows, Red Hat Linux and VMware virtualization. AWS did the hybrid cloud math and saw the value in appealing to these customers.
With the VMware and AWS partnership, questions still remain
VMware exec talks AWS partnership
AWS technology partners and outages generate hefty buzz