Next week, VMware—whose chief executive three years ago described Amazon Web Services as a mortal enemy to VMware and its partners—is about to announce a partnership with AWS. The goal is to make it easier for customers to run VMware software both on their own internal servers and on Amazon’s public cloud infrastructure.
Details are sketchy, but sources close to both companies confirmed to Fortune the gist of the announcement to be made in San Francisco next Thursday by Amazon (AMZN) Web Services Chief Executive Andy Jassy. It’s likely that his VMware (VMW) counterpart, Pat Gelsinger, will also be on hand. Neither company could be immediately reached for comment on this story.
A public cloud, as exemplified by AWS, or Microsoft (MSFT) Azure is a stockpile of computer servers, storage, and networking running in massive data centers around the world. Businesses look at public clouds as a way to augment or even replace their own data centers.
The VMware-AWS pact would be roughly analogous to the partnership VMware announced with IBM in February, which blessed IBM (IBM) SoftLayer as VMware’s best public cloud friend. Google (GOOGL), which fields its own public cloud, had been lobbying hard to get that deal.
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With this news, VMware has performed an about-face on its AWS stance from three years ago when Gelsinger cautioned the company’s partners that any computing workloads that went to Amazon were lost to VMware forever. As quoted in trade publication CRN, Gelsinger said:
We want to own corporate workload … We all lose if they end up in these commodity public clouds. We want to extend our franchise from the private cloud into the public cloud and uniquely enable our customers with the benefits of both. Own the corporate workload now and forever.
By “commodity public cloud,” he meant AWS.
To be fair, Gelsinger’s stance has softened over the years. It had to: AWS is the leader in public cloud by far, and it is on track to surpass $10 billion a year in sales this year. If a company is thinking about public cloud, it’s nearly 100% sure they’re considering Amazon..
“AWS is an immovable force,” said an executive at one legacy IT company, who requested anonymity because his company competes with AWS. No tech company can afford to ignore it, and each has to figure out a way to work with it when possible, he said.
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VMware telegraphed its rapprochement with AWS at the company’s VMworld conference in August. At that time, VMware announced Cloud Foundation, a set of services to help businesses divvy up their computing jobs between internal data centers and data centers run by VMware, its partners, or public clouds. Next week’s news will include further details of how Cloud Foundation will run on AWS servers, in particular.