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Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy (left) and VMware CEO Patrick Gelsinger at today's announcement
Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy (left) and VMware CEO Patrick Gelsinger at today’s announcement

Virtualization giant VMware is partnering with market-leading public cloud provider Amazon Web Services to offer a version of VMware’s virtualization technology as a service. Dubbed VMware Cloud on AWS, the offering means organizations can more easily run virtualized applications on any combination of private, hybrid and AWS cloud environments.

It’s a bid to pull more corporate business, which makes heavy use of virtualization, over to AWS, to emphasize that AWS does in fact embrace the hybrid cloud, and for VMware to move more emphatically toward the cloud. Virtualization has long been popular on-premises, while cloud offerings are seen as an alternative to on-premises data centers. Today’s news brings the two options closer together.

It also heralds a new and close relationship between the two companies, which were once at odds. “AWS will be VMware’s primary public cloud infrastructure, and VMware will be AWS’s primary private-cloud provider,” declared VMware CEO Patrick Gelsinger, on stage with AWS chief Andy Jassy. “We think this is a fabulous day.”

The announcement was scheduled to be made at 1:30 p.m. PT today, but was posted prematurely in a blog post by VMware’s Mark Lohmeyer, who serves as vice president of the products and cloud platform business unit at the company.

“Currently in Technology Preview, VMware Cloud on AWS, will bring VMware’s enterprise class Software-Defined Data Center software to the AWS cloud, and will enable customers to run any application across vSphere-based private, public and hybrid cloud environments,” wrote Lohmeyer. “It will be operated, managed and sold by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable service and customers will be able to leverage AWS services such as developer tools, analytics, databases, and more.”

A screenshot showing AWS managing VMware virtualization
A screenshot showing AWS managing VMware virtualization

Virtualization allows multiple operating systems and applications to run independently on a single server, maximizing the efficiency of server hardware. VMware is the market leader in virtualization, followed by Microsoft, according to research firm Gartner, which nonetheless dinged VMware last year for its lack of a public-cloud offering — a shortcoming that today’s announcement addresses.

VMware exclusively will operate, manage and sell the service, which is set to become available in invitation-only beta form early next year and to become generally available mid-2017. Many of VMware’s confusingly named products will be available as AWS services, including vSphere, VSAN and NSX. The companies promised that user interfaces, APIs and command lines familiar to VMware users will be identical when using the cloud service, and that on-premises and cloud-based virtual machines will be manageable from a single screen.

Moving virtual machines to the AWS cloud will allow using other AWS cloud services more easily, including storage, databases and analytics, the companies stressed. A new AWS web page lets customers subscribe to updates on the VMware service.

AWS isn’t the only cloud service VMware has partnered with. It struck a deal with IBM in February, and since then, roughly 1,000 IBM customers are moving their VMware environments to IBM’s cloud, IBM said in a statement. IBM has 4,000 consultants available to help with that move and created the VMware Cloud Foundation to render migration assistance. Google had hoped to make a similar deal with VMware, but IBM got the nod instead, according to Fortune.

Several Xen products from Citrix, which compete with VMware’s offerings, coordinate with Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

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