VMware Licensing Change Opens Doors for Competing Virtualization, Cloud Providers

Some VMware customers are seeking alternate virtualization and cloud computing providers because of the price and licensing changes the company announced in June, IT analysts say. Here's a look at the competitive landscape for virtualization and cloud computing providers.

By Kevin Fogarty
Tue, August 09, 2011

CIO — When VMware (VMW) announced last week that it would loosen the radical change in price structure it announced only a month ago, it was doing more than mollifying a few disgruntled customers. It was responding to a revolt among customers, analysts say, even at large companies that rarely considered competing virtualization platforms due to VMware's lead in the technology.

VMware was also responding to increasing pressure from a whole new class of competitors who see the cloud not as a higher level of abstraction on the data center (as VMware has traditionally approached it), but as the primary platform on which end-user companies can run the applications they actually want.

Last Tuesday, for example, startup CumuLogic announced the beta of a new product designed to automate and manage the process of configuring and deploying workloads on several different cloud platforms at once.

Unlike the traditional approach of virtualization players like VMware and Citrix or cloud providers such as Amazon or Terremark, CumuLogic doesn't provide the cloud platform on which the application runs. It is designed to take an application written in Java and add the code required to run on a platform-as-a-service (PAAS) cloud—including the virtual machine, description of requirements for storage, compute power, access rules and external services such as database management. CumuLogic then configures the workload to run on one of the cloud platforms CumuLogic supports, which include Amazon's EC2, Eucalyptus, Cloud.com, Vsphere, or in CumuLogic's next release, OpenStack.

Customers then send the workload off to that cloud as they would any other, except that CumuLogic's monitoring and management apps will monitor performance and watch for developing problems.

Take my infrastructure—please!

PAAS is becoming a much more important part of the cloud equation as customers become more comfortable leaving the infrastructure to someone else and focusing on the Java or Ruby applications they build from scratch, according to Bernd Harzog, an analyst covering virtualization performance and capacity management at The Virtualization Practice.

In fact, the ability to rent highly sophisticated enterprise applications from vendors such as Salesforce.com (CRM), or build them using highly automated, time-saving application development languages such as Ruby on Rails or Java have changed the whole market for corporate application development, according to a May report from Morgan Stanley.

Building the logic for an application is relatively easy compared to the hardware, facilities, systems-maintenance and operational costs of running a 24/7/365 data center to support it. The opportunity to skip that cost, or pass the bulk of it to a PAAS provider, makes customized, highly automated IT available to far more companies than ever before, the report concludes.

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