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VMware, Service Providers, and the next Decade of Partnering

During VMware’s first decade, our technology partners were almost entirely hardware- or system software-centric. These collaborations have been very productive, making virtualization more performant, more manageable, and more compatible with existing tools and processes. These partnerships continue to be critical to advancing virtualization and helping customers on their journey to creating a private cloud.


However, as we enter the 2010’s (the ten’s?), we’re dramatically increasing our focus on a new set of partners… those partners that can offer services to our customers from their own datacenters. These new partners include hosters, system integrators/system outsourcers, SaaS ISVs, and also a variety of existing telcos and other service providers (SPs). This is a very broad new partner set for VMware, and is key to VMware’s hybrid cloud strategy.


A few weeks ago, VMware announced collaboration with Orange Business Services to deliver an enterprise-class public cloud service built upon VMware’s products and expertise with enterprise private clouds. This follows last month’s announcement of new hybrid cloud offerings from Verizon, Terremark, and Bluelock in North America, from Colt in Europe, and from Singtel in Asia. These new partners have aggressively moved in this direction for several reasons:

  • Their customers are demanding more and higher-level services and prefer “one-stop shopping”

  • Customers are looking to run their business-critical applications with service providers they are already trusting with their most secure communications and hosting

  • It is a great way to monetize their massive datacenter and telecommunication investments

  • They see competition for even their core businesses coming from new public clouds such as those from Microsoft, Amazon, and Google


VMware is on a mission to help our SP partners achieve the above with substantial focus on enabling new services that are efficient, secure, and compatible with what enterprises expect of their critical infrastructure.  Let’s go into a few of these new services…


As discussed in previous blogs, we expect the majority of businesses to move towards hybrid clouds where some of their applications run on company-owned hardware (behind their firewalls) and some will run in the public cloud either as hosted virtual machines or as SaaS offerings. In short, our strategy to help our customers achieve this is:

  1. Evolve existing datacenters into “private clouds”

  2. Create an ecosystem of compatible “public clouds”

  3. Develop technologies that connect private and public offerings to enable hybrid clouds


Point 2 is where much of our new service provider partnering activity has taken place.




To create this ecosystem of compatible, but differentiated public cloud offerings, we first launched our VMware Service Provider Program, a new pricing and partner support model better aligned with the way these partners sell their own public cloud offerings. This program has been incredibly successful, and we have almost 3,000 partners participating in this and using various VMware products to offer their services.


At VMworld-US, we launched several new products including vCloud Director and a family of vShield security products. These are excellent tools for enabling private clouds, but they are also a key next step in advancing our service provider partnerships, enabling a new class of vCloud Powered services.  These services are based on vSphere as well as these two new products, with the goal being the availability of public clouds that are quite compatible with customers’ private clouds.  Beyond compatibility at the virtual machine platform layer, we have further launched a new tier of service provider offerings called vCloud Datacenter Services.  Public clouds offered via this new program certainly run the same virtual machines as VMware-based private clouds, but they will also have consistent approaches to best practices configuration, management and security, accelerating customers on their path to the hybrid cloud.  In addition, VMware has established enterprise-class compliance controls for these clouds, and will be validating and co-branding these services with partners.  And as you know, most discussions of the public cloud focus on just how important security and trust is in this space.




These programs have dramatically accelerated our SP partnerships, leveraging their capital investments and employees’ experience, and allowing them to offer enterprise-class “infrastructure-as-a-service”(IaaS) for customers in a way that they are comfortable using it.


It’s about more than just IaaS though. While IaaS is important, enterprises ascribe even more strategic value to services that are higher in the stack, even closer to the critical applications that run their business. We’re just beginning to partner with SPs on several such services for their public clouds. I’ll cover each of these in more detail in future blogs, but thought it’d be good to whet your appetites here:


  • Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS): PaaS is a higher-level abstraction than IaaS, focused on making it as easy as possible for developers to create new applications for their business.  Rather than exposing developers to all of the details of which hardware/VMs are in use or how the application is deployed and managed, PaaS lets them just focus on getting their job done. Our SP partners are looking to offer alternatives to their customers, and we have recently launched our new

    vFabric application development suite to enable the creation of enterprise-class Java PaaS offerings. We’re seeing some great early progress with partners such as CSC in offering Spring-based PaaS offerings to the public.



  • Collaboration: Collaboration is key to every business, and we see great opportunity to make it even richer, more affordable, and ubiquitously available. In January of this year, I

    blogged about the acquisition of Zimbra, the leading open source email, calendar, and collaboration server. From the blog:

    … the outstanding Zimbra team and their technology will be an important element in expanding our VMware vCloud strategy to deliver a well integrated portfolio of compute, application development, and core IT service clouds. Furthermore, Zimbra is open source with a vibrant community , highlighting VMware’s belief in, and commitment to, the use of open platforms in the clouds.

    Zimbra is the basis for several existing public cloud collaboration offerings (it’s best known for powering the millions of Comcast’s customers’ mailboxes), and we’re seeing more and more interest from service providers in offering this capability to their customers from their public cloud.




  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Enablement: We also want to enable our SP partners host key enterprise applications directly, and allow enterprises to consume them completely over the internet.  This is in an earlier stage for VMware than the above offerings, but something that we see as critical to the hybrid cloud future. We want to help enable our service provider partners to host enterprise-ready SaaS applications. These may be built on our IaaS and PaaS offerings, but they also will benefit from tighter ties into the enterprise through compatible monitoring, provisioning, and authentication approaches. This is the rationale behind our

    acquisition of TriCipheras well as the basis for Project Horizon, recently demonstrated in public for the first time. You can also keep an eye on Javier Soltero’s blog for more details as to what we’re doing to further enable the next generation of SaaS applications.




Mobile phones and tablets:  Last, but not least, we will help our SP partners offer even more services in the mobile device space. We are hard at work on virtualization for mobile phones and other devices typically based on ARM processors and often leveraging Google’s Android OS.  We have not yet publicly launched these products, but you can read more about our thinking here. This offering is focused on helping our service provider partners offer even more enterprise-friendly services to enterprises increasingly leveraging smart phones for the most critical functions of their business.


We know that SPs are facing significant challenges and opportunities, and VMware is committed to delivering to them the same high-quality solutions that we have provided to enterprise for the last 13 years. Even more importantly, together we can help our joint customers as they accelerate their journey from their existing IT infrastructure to the substantially better hybrid cloud destination. And this is why we’re seeing the ten’s as a decade of dramatically increased activity with our service provider partners.


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