To reap the true benefits of VMware's initiative, IT shops and cloud providers have to use its proprietary vSphere virtualisation platform, the company said at VMworld 2009, which took place last week at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco.
Dubbed vCloud Express, the programme promises to let users move workloads from an internal data centre to a service provider and manage both environments from a single pain of glass, as long as both sides are using vSphere.
Paul Watson, managing director of the SITS Group, a VMware Accredited Consultancy (VAC), said competitors are kicking up a fuss about interoperability but it does not appear to be an issue for IT managers at present.
"IT managers think it is easier to stick with the same vendor anyway. If they buy a hypervisor from one vendor, they will probably buy their management tools from them too. Most vendors seem to be offering their own anyway -- Microsoft encourages the use of its own software and so does Citrix."
Phil Cambers, commercial director at the SITS Group, agreed. "Cloud is still in its embryonic form. Eventually customers will want one cloud to turn to, like with electricity providers. You choose either Empower or Eon, for example, and everything you need electricity-wise is taken care of by that provider," Cambers said. "IT managers do not care where it is coming from, just as long as it is coming from one cloud."
During a Q&A session at VMworld, VMware CEO Paul Maritz said supporting rival virtualisation products is something the vendor will think about, but "at this point in time we think our challenge is to help our existing customers -- all 150,000 of them -- do more with their environments and lift their management up."Customers will want one cloud ... like with electricity providers. IT managers do not care where it is coming from, just as long as it is coming from one cloud.
commercial directorSITS Group
Maritz also assured that if VMware saw a greater demand for supporting multiple hypervisors, the company would "look into it."
However, Clive Longbottom, service director and analyst at Quocirca, said that unlike VMware, Microsoft still sees the value in the hypervisor. "Microsoft's Hyper-v manages VMware Images, but not vice versa."
"VMware has realised the hypervisor is not capitalising anymore and it is no longer the way for them to make money, so they are focusing on how to manage a virtual environment -- buying up companies in this area, for example," Longbottom said.
In August, VMware snapped up Web application development and management vendor SpringSource for $362 million (£220 million) in cash.
"Despite SpringSource being a good move for VMware, there is nothing there to manage the physical layer. For the midmarket, in particular, a physical layer is needed so the end user does not need to go out and buy it from someone else," added Longbottom.
Meanwhile, VMware competitors look on, stressing that interoperability across virtualisation platforms is key to bridging the gap between internal and external clouds.
For example, Citrix and Xen.org are pushing the Xen Cloud Platform, which was designed to allow flexibility in hypervisor choice, so hypervisors can be used to build virtual machines running on any cloud services.
VMware officials have argued that they are trying to promote open standards by submitting the company's vCloud API to the Distributed Management Task Force in a bid to promote interoperability within public cloud platforms.
Kayleigh Bateman is the site editor for SearchVirtualDataCentre.co.uk.