No one really expects that this new cloud, named the vCloud Hybrid Service, will really damage Amazon's lock on the cloud computing market, any more than IBM's, HP's, Google's and Microsoft's clouds will.
However, VMware has a few carrots that are particularly delicious for enterprise customers. The biggest is that VMware will be offering many of SAP's popular enterprise apps, including its successful in-memory database HANA, on monthly subscription plans.
HANA is a database that can crunch enormous amounts of data almost instantly and SAP hopes it will give its old arch nemesis, Oracle, a black eye.
Even SAP's own new cloud service called "Enterprise Cloud" announced earlier this month doesn't really do monthly subscriptions for its most popular software. To use HANA or other SAP apps on Enterprise Cloud, SAP customers have to bring their own software licenses, meaning they still have to pay for SAP software the old-fashioned way, via long-term contracts.
That's perhaps why VMware's GM of cloud, Bill Fathers, could claim today at a press conference that VMware will be "the first and only cloud provider" to offer SAP software including HANA on a monthly subscription plan.
He offered no other details about the partnership beyond that: nothing about pricing and if this cloud version of HANA would be full-strength or a scaled-down version. We've asked VMware and SAP for details.
HANA has actually been available as a cloud service on Amazon since October, costing a mere 99 cents per hour (plus a few other fees). But, the Amazon version of HANA was a smaller, slower version than the full-strength database that SAP sells.
Expanding into the cloud via VMware is a smart move for SAP. It gives it access to new cloud customers without gutting its current business model.
Other carrots of vCloud that enterprises will like include:
- Nicira's game-changing software-defined networking software. VMware bought Nicira for $1.26 billion last year for this reason. SDN makes it easy to set up the network piece of a cloud computing system.
- vCloud pricing is reasonable. There's two flavors of vCloud, one where the customer gets its own dedicated hardware, starting at 13 cents an hour per processor; the other where the customer shares the hardware, priced at 4.5 cents an hour per processor.
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