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Questions linger about VMware on AWS partnership

Is running VMware virtualization on top of AWS the best way to effectively manage workloads? That depends who you ask.

Thoughts are mixed on a new partnership that will allow enterprises to run VMware on AWS. While the deal seems positive for AWS, benefits aren't immediate for current VMware customers.

If you ask IBM about the partnership, you might get a dirty look, as the company has supported VMware on its cloud for over a year. Rank-and-file AWS users probably won't and don't care. And a VMware user might be unsure what to think of the news.

Partnership addresses cloud demand

Shrinking data centers and the rise of public cloud have lowered demand for VMware's software over the last few years. And it could get worse for VMware, as enterprises move 5% to 20% of their workloads onto infrastructure as a service.

The new agreement means VMware will be sold on AWS as a software as a service, giving VMware an answer for customers looking to move to the public cloud. It also enables VMware customers to move images to and from VMware and AWS and from on premises to cloud -- and back again.

*The issue is that VMware is virtualization software running with AWS. AWS has its own internal virtualization engine and tenant management. Developers can allocate a VM on VMware running on AWS’ bare-metal server or just allocate a server resource out of the AWS cloud. Enterprises that want to move from VMware to AWS might benefit from AWS' native capabilities, allocating compute and storage servers instead of sitting inside a VMware image. VMware virtualizes applications and data storage, which means moving to AWS' native compute and storage servers should improve performance, stability and cost. Thus, while VMware is looking to preempt workloads from moving out of its software and into the public cloud, that might not be the best path for its customers.

New source of revenue

AWS benefits from this deal. The revenue from the VMware cloud service likely is on the low end, but it also allows indirect access to VMware customers. You could think of VMware on AWS as a gateway drug for those who want to move to the cloud and use VMware on the cloud as training wheels.

But VMware customers who are trying to find the best platform for their workloads may lose out. While there are good reasons to run VMware on AWS, they are not as prevalent as VMware folks would like to believe. AWS is in a win-win situation when it comes to revenue and buzz in the industry.

* - This paragraph was corrected after publication.

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