back to article VMware execs shake fists at Amazon Web Services cloud

VMware executives have lashed out at Amazon Web Services, warning partners that if they let workloads go to the cloud, they are unlikely to come back. In a high-octane speech at the virtualization giant's worldwide partner conference, VMware chief Pat Gelsinger warned attendees of the threat posed by Bezos's cloud. "If a …


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  1. Nate Amsden

    i feel the same way!

    (I've said this before so sorry if you have read it many times already - this is not a copy/paste job though)

    From an infrastructure perspective using EC2 cloud is like going back to the 90s(in terms of capacity provisioning, there is no pooling of resources). If they fixed their shit where basic things like resource sharing, persistent network configuration, automatic migration of workloads so maintenance can be performed, etc. Basically get rid of built to fail for those customers that want it. Then I'd see some value in it.

    Having worked closely with a bunch of developers across multiple companies who built their apps from the ground up in the EC2 cloud and not spending any time taking into account the built to fail model I feel pretty convinced that this is not a priority for most of the devs out there (of course there are exceptions but the #s are relatively minuscule). From a business strategy perspective it makes sense as well, if you spend a bunch of time making the app resilient you can't make the features your customers want (or your costs go way up if you try to do both - never mind the fact that managing EC2 instances is significantly more expensive then doing it yourself with really the only exception being very highly variable workloads that are very efficiently managed).

    I've worked for the past 11 years with software companies with home grown internet-facing software, and none of them spent much time focused on making their apps capable of handling built to fail models whether they were in a cloud or operating on their own bare metal.

    Sadly enough the problem seems to be incompetent IT groups in these organizations, they are not able to respond effectively to their users needs so the users decide it is simpler to bypass them and go to a cloud, and of course Amazon has the biggest name in the space at this point.

    One of my friends is at a big company where he has done the math and says they are spending 700% more by using a cloud managed service provider than if they did it themselves (they are not an EC2 customer). But the company doesn't want to bring things in house -- yet at the same time they want to cut costs... all I can say is I'm glad I don't work there. There is so much poor management (at all levels even down to the operations folks, I phone screened a bunch last year) throughout the world really, and the influx of startups has put an even greater burden on those which can do the job - which means a massive shortage of good talent, leading to people making decisions like that.

    I've said time and again that it takes significantly more expertise to effectively operate inside EC2 than it does on enterprise equipment (primarily because of support, training, no built to fail models etc). Unfortunately most management do not realize that or don't care all they see is puffy white stuff and think they are cool by using it.

    It pains me to no end to see folks using EC2, or even other cloud players, EC2 is the worst offender though. It can be like a roach motel for those who buy into it hook line and sinker.

    I have absolutely no doubt that there are a lot of investors out there that have invested in the cloud stuff and in turn try to drive the companies they invest in to use the cloud as a result. It's sad to see.

    My last dealing with EC2 was about 8 months ago when my company moved the last of their stuff out of there. It's been all green meadows since then. Now I'm looking at doubling the memory capacity of the servers (hey, saves on vSphere licensing costs because like most people we are not CPU bound) so we can continue to add more VMs (the number of VMs has probably doubled since we left EC2 - and yet our costs have remained constant -- I believe the migration has already paid for itself at this point and we're barely a year from when we moved the first set of systems out). If we become CPU bound then we can upgrade the CPUs and get another ~30% capacity again without any license hit. Though we'd have to probably quadruple our CPU usage to need that.

    Now if your in that fraction of a fraction of 1% of organizations who have a highly variable workload and can spin up and down things on demand for short periods of time - that is something EC2 is good for. If you nabbed yourself a password file and want to crack it on a cluster of GPU systems or something and not have to buy it - that is something EC2 is good for.

    Running something 24/7 though - is a waste of money and waste of resources. Not that most organizations aren't wasting money and resources already, so I suppose it comes down to relative waste in those cases.

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: i feel the same way!

      The 'cloud' works really well in certain situations, usually ones that require short term, scale-able services or for testing. Azure works really well for just messing about with a few relatively fast servers for a well. As a full deployment over 3 years you would have to be on the special mushrooms to do it. If you are running an ad campaign for something and need resources for 2-3 months amazon etc makes perfect sense. A friend is the sys admin for a hotel, they were looking at shifting all their servers into the cloud (specifically azure) because you know , the cloud is cool and it must be better in all those unquantifiable but important ways.

      We ran the sums, given they are tighter than a ducks arse and try and keep their servers for 10-15 years, azure had them raped 10 ways from Sunday on cost. It's way too easy to look at an hourly cost and believe it must be better because the cloud is better (because its new and cool and just awesomeness with a fricking cherry on top) but even allowing for a 7 year lifespan on the servers.

      If we went out tomorrow and replaced all the servers it would run 18-24k (there aren't really many :) ) but azure would cost over 50k for 7 years. Admittedly there are concerns like electricity costs over that time but the whole cloud must be better voodoo is just marketing. It's great for some folks but not for everyone.

      1. TheVogon

        Re: i feel the same way!

        Cost of the hardware is usually only circa 20% of the TCO over 5 years. Don't forget licensing, power, cooling, support, etc.

        On that basis, on site is £90K-£120K versus £50K in Azure.

        1. TheVogon

          Re: i feel the same way!

          Oops - that's versus ~£35K for Azure for 5 years. £50K was for 7 years...

        2. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: i feel the same way!

          I realise there are situations where 20% may be true but it is far from always the case.

          The hote in question has more solar than they can use but I will give you power as a cost, but maybe 1.2kw under full load. Cooling is handled by the room ac, it's not a significant deployment and the first thing I suggested was they bump the tep from 18 to 24 as it just didn't need to be so low. Support is a big variable, if they had the option to downsize support then maybe but they are already at 1 person plus me helping now and again in return for wine and ahi.

          Their model may not be ideal, but they keep servers until they die, their 'new' servers run win 2k3. They have pentium pro's and original xeons in the mix. Their 2k3 servers apparently 'have another 5+ years in them'. So honestly the cloud probably is not for them. The next move is probably 1-2 low power xeons with a decent wallop of ram and migrate to vm's using hyper v. I half considered suggesting they grab a dell c6100 but something similar could work for them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: i feel the same way!

      Just move to Hyper-V and completely cut out those expensive VMware costs. Its just as good and is completely free. As in ZERO cost to install the fully capable enterprise product with all facilities like software defined networking and replication that VMware charge a fortune for...

      1. (AMPC) Anonymous and mostly paranoid coward

        Re: i feel the same way!

        Nice attempted bow shot from VMware and an equally nice retort from AWS. But I still think Amazon won on points.

        Of course nothing beats actually understanding how to use the virty systems, the cloud OSes, the models and the related technologies effectively in the first place. Unfortunately, such people are thin on the ground or busy getting shouted down by entrenched luddite vendors or their customers.

        As a result, people will continue to dump their server loads onto AWS (and pay too much) or shell out big bucks for VMWare (and still pay too much) either because

        a) they haven't looked at alternatives


        b) haven't correctly sized their public/private cloud requirement (if any) in the first place.

        But reasons like a) and b) have spawned bad purchasing decisions for decades and will continue to do so.

        Fact is, all these solutions have their attractions and warts,

        ONE MUST CHOOSE the warts and attractions that best fit and respond to their particular situation(s).


        A pinguin, because most of the really cool cloud deployments are running on "nixen anyway.

        But I like Hyper-V too.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    Show Me The Money

    Maybe VMware might think about, I dunno, cutting their price?

    Crazy, huh?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    It's pretty disingenuous of VMWare to call Amazon "just a book seller". They're a pretty big company doing an awful lot of things other than sellng books, regardless of what you think of their platform services.

    You might as well call Google "just an advertiser" or Microsoft "just that company that sells Windows" or Oracle "that database company".

    Amazon's cloud services are what they are. What they offer is different to what VMWare offer.

    1. ACx

      Well, if you can't spot a simple insult when you read one....

      Do you really believe VMWare think Amazon only sell books? Do you think you are so clever you spotted a very well hidden error?

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Yes it's derogatory but I saw it as a backhanded compliment. VMWare and their customers are being schooled on their core mission by someone who should be a client of theirs or their customers. That has to hurt!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        I remember an article in "The Economist" from 2004 or even maybe earlier where the point was that amazon is not a bookseller - but actually a software company that happens to also sell stuff..

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VMware's stalling sales shouldnt be a surprise

    They have had their time in the sun, I see very few greenfield sites going VMware these days. Most Take-up with free or inexpensive stacks from Citrix (XenServer, XCP) or Microsoft (Hyper-V). Even new projects within an existing VMware shop often go to a different hypervisor based on cost and functionality.

    Unfortunately for VMware, they are still essentially a 1-product-company, and that 1-product now has serious competition/alternatives. They will probably go the same way as most 1-product companies.


    1. Borneo

      Re: VMware's stalling sales shouldnt be a surprise

      Even some VMware shops are starting to look at, and even implement an alternative stack. VMware might have the most features, but the pricing model is starting to hurt them, especially with MS pitching Hyper-V very aggressively alongside SCCM.

      Virtualisation seems to be losing some of its sheen, especially with the software vendors screwing customers with archaic and complex licencing models. It's here, and it's becoming a commodity, but it isn't always the silver bullet that promised 7 years ago.

    2. TheVogon

      Re: VMware's stalling sales shouldnt be a surprise

      Whilst I agree with what you are saying, VMware are effectively part of EMC, so to write them off as a one trick pony might be a little premature....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How could they fail to beat a company that sells books?

    Perhaps by continuing to charge usurious prices and force big capital investments from their customer they could manage to lose. VMWare should cost 1/10th of what it does.

    They could also underestimate the company that figured out how to sell and deliver books and everything else effectively over the internet. Mind you, they figured it out the hard way, but there is a chance they have learned something. Say, perhaps, an estimate of the value of the ability to provision hardware at known rent in hours or minutes, rather than weeks or months after a capital purchase is approved.

    Grouchy, commoditized sysadmins notwithstanding, commodity public clouds are the future. There are network effects around sharing of data and the cost of import/export that give EC2 a huge lead. You have 20 seconds to comply.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's all about the benjamins

    The amazon model works because it shifts the cost from IT capex to business unit opex and that makes it easier to hide. It's also why big vendors are shifting to subscription pricing. They've learned from cable and telco that it's better to repeatedly tap the victim gently on the head than it is to put them in hospital.

  7. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "That is no arrow. We just imagine the arrows because we fear them."

    "VMware's situation sounds disturbingly like the plot of Werner Herzog's Aguirre"

    Not so! VMware is not a rogue band of know-nothing brutes venturing into a vast, unknown, quasi-mystical space that they think they can conquer and dominate utterly with superior technology, mumblings from the priest and the will to power but which will instead silently absorb them and their little heinous minds by not giving them anything to hold on to, by disallowing any point of reference - moral, cultural temporal or geographical.

    Quite unlike this and far more prosaic, VMware and its competitors are just trying to punt their wares. EC2 is not particulary absorbing...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Vmware need to productise and franchise some of the vision they are preaching around stretching corporate infrastructure into clouds and allowing secure/performant mobility of workloads.

    until they do this effectively, the rest is just rhetoric but when they do this they'll have won the biggest battle of their war against amazon and won't look back.

    if they don't can't do this, someone else will and Vmware will either need to buy them, pay catch-up very quickly or lose a hell of a lot of market share very quickly.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public clouds are beaten by DIY PCs

    Whisper it: if it's just for short term sandbox and proof of concept, all these public clouds are beaten by DIY PCs.

    Now that so much cost has been saved by outsourcing IT jobs and excellence has been destroyed, people cannot phone down to IT with a "gimme a serva" request anymore. There are now SLAs, request and change control tickets needs to be filled in etc. It suddenly takes 2 months to get a server. So the stationary budget and intellectual property is burned on more outsourcing: the public cloud.

  10. El Andy

    VMware's problem has consistently been a complete failure to see what's "next" after basic server virtualisation and, as such, they just haven't made any effective attempts at moving into that market, instead just forcing their prices higher hoping to somehow survive on their name alone. Hyper-V and Xen have already eaten deeply into that market and, quite frankly, both are better choices than VMware for most people.

    Sitting around and assuming that "cloud" computing isn't going to catch on or prove more affordable is just plain dumb.

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