The CEO of VMware implies that in the cloud wars, the company's heart really belongs to Amazon, not its new friend Microsoft (VMW, AMZN, MSFT)


Pat Gelsinger

  • On Monday, VMware’s CEO Pat Gelsinger stood on stage with Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella to announce a new partnership.
  • The two companies have been bitter rivals for most of their existence.
  • Behind the scenes, Gelsinger explained at a Q&A session that, despite the news, VMware still viewed Amazon as its main ally in the cloud wars. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On Monday, it was a when-pigs-fly moment as VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger stood on stage with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to announce a partnership between their two companies.

Microsoft and VMware have been bitter rivals for decades — but this partnership brings VMware’s software to the Microsoft Azure cloud.

It’s especially notable because VMware has a major partnership with Microsoft’s main cloud rival, Amazon Web Services. This new partnership with Microsoft should not be good news for Amazon.

Read: Microsoft, VMware, and Dell officially launched a new partnership that shouldn’t please Amazon

However, in a Q&A following the on-stage announcement, Gelsinger implied that VMware’s heart still belonged to Amazon, saying that AWS was still its primary cloud partner, as tweeted by Tim Crawford, who was in the room. Crawford is a well-known former chief information officer who is now a CIO consultant.

Satya Nadella, Michael Dell, Pat Gelsinger

VMware is also not jointly engineering the offering directly with Microsoft, as it is with Amazon.

The technical implementation of VMware software for Microsoft’s cloud is being handled by authorized VMware partner CloudSimple, as well as Virtustream, a Dell Technologies IT consulting services company. This makes sense: Dell Technologies is VMware’s parent company, and Dell has also always been a close partner with Microsoft.

Ergo, VMware’s software on AWS remains VMware’s “primary and preferred offering,” Gelsinger said at that Q&A, VMware confirmed to Business Insider.

Amazon isn’t bothered

As we previously reported, this cloud partnership between VMware and Microsoft began as a contentious duel. Back in 2017, Microsoft began working with a VMware partner to bring allow VMware’s software to work with Azure without VMware’s approval.

Read: A male Microsoft programmer who came from the military, not a university, describes how his career got tanked by the ‘brilliant jerks’ culture

Meanwhile, folks inside Amazon have sniffed at the new partnership as being no big deal, one person told us. They view it as on the same level as VMware’s other cloud partnerships, such as the one it has with IBM. 

We’ll see: Amazon is currently the cloud computing giant that can’t be stopped, and VMware’s new partnership with Microsoft isn’t going to slow it down.

But VMware is key to Amazon’s growth in a crucial cloud computing market known as hybrid computing. That’s when companies use the cloud for some things, their own data centers for other things, and it all works perfectly together (at least in theory). 

It’s how the majority of companies — especially large companies — will think about cloud computing in the near term, and maybe forever. While Amazon has only just recently started to create a few of its own products to serve hybrid computing, VMware already has half a billion customers using its software on its own servers and data centers. That means there’s a lot of upside in connecting their two worlds. 

Importantly, however, many of those VMware users are also Microsoft customers.

So, even if VMware is pushing its customers towards AWS, Microsoft still has a lot of influence. And some of them may want to use Microsoft’s cloud for at least some of their needs. 

SEE ALSO: Microsoft, Google and others ‘are making little or no impact’ on Amazon’s cloud dominance, according to an analysis of their quarterly earnings reports

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