vCloud Air Australia Pitches Into The Hybrid Cloud Wars

Some five months after announcing its plans for an Australian-hosted version of its vCloud Air (vCA) platform, VMware has officially launched the cloud service down under. Will the large base of existing vSphere installations be enough to make it a contender for hybrid cloud installations?

Data centre picture from Shutterstock

vCloud Air has been offered in the US since mid-2013, and has now rolled out via a Telstra-owned data centre in Melbourne after nine months of active development. That will service both the Australian and New Zealand markets.

There are three core components to the vCA offering:

  • A dedicated cloud package which includes compute space used only by that customer. That has a minimum spec of 30GHz CPU, 120GB RAM and 6TB of storage, along with 50MB of network bandwidth. This is paid for at an agreed fixed monthly cost.
  • A virtual private cloud, which includes shared compute space. This has a minimum spec of 5GHz CPU (which can be burst higher during peak demand), 20GB of RAM and 2TB of storage.
  • A dedicated disaster recovery service to allow systems to fail over in the event of a problem, with an "unlimited" number of test failovers.

There are a variety of ways to pay for the vCA service. While there is a classic "on-demand" option which can be paid for via credit card, VMware is placing more emphasis on buying through partners: either through its relationship with Telstra, through managed service providers (including Datacom, Data3, Macquarie Telecom and Deloitte), or through existing VMware channel partners.

As well as the on-demand payment model, there's also a fixed-per month cost for what amounts to renting a data centre, and a subscription option for businesses whose corporate policies bar payment via credit cards. One consequence of that is that it's hard to come up with a directly comparable price for vCA's rivals such as AWS and Azure.

"Cloud has been defined by this pay-per-minute approach," Dan McLean, VMware director for cloud and services provider sales in ANZ, said at the official launch event. "We're not asking organisations to reinvent the way they do business; we're matching with what they already do.""

Amongst the global players, VMware is one of the last to arrive in the locally-hosted cloud space. AWS has had a Sydney presence since November 2012; Azure opened Sydney and Melbourne centres last ; IBM's SoftLayer also operates in Melbourne and Sydney. Cisco's Intercloud is in testing with Telstra, using the same Melbourne data centre as VMware.

VMware's main advantage is that it has the dominant share of the local virtualisation market, and can pitch itself as offering easier integration between on-premises and cloud-based vSphere systems because of the common hypervisor environment. "It's not a conversion, it's not a migration -- it is the same application," McLean said.

That said, Microsoft makes a similar pitch for Azure, and even AWS is now offering tools to manage on-premises and cloud-based rollouts. Any hybrid cloud rollout will also require complex planning and is likely to involve multiple platforms, so the advantages of incumbency are likely to vary.


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