VMware and Microsoft are missing the boat on private PaaS, consultant says

VMware's Cloud Foundry and Microsoft Azure are two of the leading platform as a service (PaaS) offerings from two cloud heavyweights, but one consultant says both companies are largely ignoring the private cloud market, creating a glaring hole for customers.

John Treadway, a VP at Boston-area consultancy Cloud Technology Partners, says VMware and Microsoft are holding back the entire PaaS industry by not offering commercial support for on-premise installations of the their platforms.

"I spend a lot of time with large enterprises, and we're very big proponents of the PaaS opportunity," he says, but many customers are not willing to put resources in a public cloud, off their own premise, he says. Businesses and IT shops want to control these deployments behind their own firewall. "They want to run their own internal clouds," and VMware and Microsoft don't have the tools to do that for Cloud Foundry and Azure, he says.

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Part of this could be the immaturity of the overall PaaS market: Garnter recently reported that the $1.2 billion PaaS market is 8% the size of the $14.4 billion software as a service (SaaS) market in terms of IT spending. But Treadway says more customers would be open to using PaaS if companies like VMware and Microsoft offered private, on-premise versions of these services.

Cloud Foundry (CF) is VMware's open source PaaS environment, which has been used by a variety of service providers to build a PaaS deployment. VMware offers a hosted version of Cloud Foundry, but the company does not have a supported version that can be deployed on the customer's premise.

VMware says PaaS is on the roadmap. Company officials announced at VMworld earlier this year plans to implement the service, and in an emailed response to Treadway's claims, VMware officials said their plan is to roll out a private version of CF next year that's "optimized for vSphere and vCloud," the company's major cloud software systems. "We have had significant interest from customers since we launched Cloud Foundry as an open source project for a private cloud, product version of Cloud Foundry," VMware officials wrote.

Treadway is eager to see VMware's private CF, but he's worried the company is "dragging its feet." VMware insiders he's spoken to say they haven't seen the effort behind the keynote announcement. "I haven't seen any evidence of them really moving the ball on this," Treadway says. The company has released updated versions of its vSphere and GemFire Fusion applications, and has made some announcements around extending support for CF, but it has not yet released a private cloud version.

Microsoft is a slightly more complicated story. Its Azure cloud was one of the first and most robust major PaaS offerings in the market. Microsoft doesn't have a private or on-premise version of Azure available, but it does have what Microsoft officials claim is an equivalent in Windows Server 2012 and Systems Center 2012. "Our goal with what we call the Cloud OS is to continue providing comprehensive capabilities across our private, hosted and public clouds, helping our partners and customers capitalize on the transition to cloud computing on their terms," Microsoft officials wrote in emailed responses to questions.

Powered by Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization tool, Microsoft made a significant upgrade in IT management when it released Windows Server 2012, increasing VM management capacity from four virtual processors and 64GB of memory to now being able to handle 64 virtual processors and 1TB of memory for guests.

Still, Treadway isn't buying it. "There may be a set of capabilities in Systems Center and Windows Server, but it's not really a private Azure," he says. "It's not really a truly fully automated cloud stack."

Why aren't Microsoft and VMware rolling out more private cloud offerings? Treadway is perplexed. VMware has plans to do so, but Treadway just isn't sure what's taken them so long. Microsoft, he says, built Azure as a public cloud service from the start. "It's a simple matter of not prioritizing Azure Private Cloud at the beginning and now it's just terribly difficult," he says.

The issue of neither VMware nor Microsoft providing these services is holding back PaaS adoption overall, he says. For customers to adopt PaaS, they need to have private cloud options, he says, and two of the biggest vendors in the market just aren't supplying it.

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at BButler@nww.com and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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