The cloud war between the Big Four (IBM, AWS, Microsoft, Google) is heating up with each competitor forming their own strategic partnerships with the big names in the IT industry over the recent years. According to a 2015 report from Synergy Research Group, the Q2 data showed that in aggregate, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, IBM and Google control well over half of the worldwide cloud infrastructure service market.

IBM may not be in the top two position in the cloud war, but it believes that hybrid is what enterprises are really looking for, and with the recent new partnership it has formed with VMware – asserts that it can be that ideal cloud provider in that platform.

On February 22, 2016, at the IBM InterConnect 2016 event in Las Vegas, VMware – the global leader in virtualization and cloud infrastructure and IBM (Big Blue) – one of the top four cloud infrastructure providers, announced a partnership that lets customers migrate workloads between VMware-based private clouds and the IBM public cloud computing environment.

The two companies would work together to let customers skip the time-consuming process of converting workloads from one format to another when migrating workloads, thus making it easier for businesses running VMware vSphere virtualization in their private environment to migrate those workloads to IBM’s SoftLayer public cloud.

Customers can also deploy workloads in a hybrid cloud environment without the need for modification, assuring coexistence between vSphere running on-premises and on IBM’s cloud, thus overcoming the barriers to entry for enterprises looking to migrate to off-premise infrastructure.

The partnership has enabled the two companies to offer a complete range of Software, Servers, Networking, Storage, and Services to help customers consolidate their datacenters, run their business critical applications, and accelerate their journey to their own private cloud and the ability to leverage public cloud offerings.

Partnership benefits for VMware

According to Carl Eschenbach, VMware’s President and COO, who described the IBM alliance as a new strategic partnership that will help the VMware accelerate its hybrid cloud business – IBM will be using VMware’s entire SDDC (Software Defined Data Center) stack which includes: vCloud Suite, NSX software-defined networking and VSAN storage virtualization, on top of a bare metal offering on SoftLayer.

VMware said in a news release that their customers will be able to leverage its proven technologies with IBM’s growing footprint of 45 Cloud Data Centers worldwide to help companies scale globally while avoiding the retooling expenses, development risks, and security concerns. The new agreement would enable enterprise customers to easily and securely extend their existing workloads, as they are, from their on-premises SDDC to the cloud.

“This partnership, an extension of our 14-year plus relationship with IBM, demonstrates a shared vision that will help enterprise customers more quickly and easily embrace the hybrid cloud,” said Pat Gelsinger, CEO at VMware.

Partnership benefits for IBM

IBM will utilize its extensive CloudBuilder tools and workload automation capabilities to automatically provision pre-configured or custom workloads to the cloud, validated by VMware’s design patterns for SDDC architectures. In addition, VMware has extended vRealize Automation and vCenter management tools to deploy and manage environments on the IBM Cloud, as if they are part of a customer’s local data center.

IBM continues to be one of VMware’s largest partners in terms of overall business and the new alliance many experts believe will garner a huge market for IBM’s SoftLayer cloud business. IBM Global Services is one of VMware’s largest customers, using VMware in many of their customer solutions. And IBM has developed dozens of product integrations into VMware API’s with their servers, storage, networking, and Tivoli management products for enhanced interoperability and functionality.

According to reports by both companies, the two will also jointly market and sell new offerings for hybrid cloud deployments, including seamless workload migrations, capacity expansion, data center consolidation and disaster recovery (DR).

By the way, IBM is not the only cloud provider who has gained the favor of VMware customers. The top two contenders in the Big Four cloud providers list, AWS and Microsoft, have both offered customers ways to help them bridge the vSphere-cloud gap. But IBM takes it a step further with the announcement, by promising a way to move the work from on-premises servers to the cloud with assured help from VMware itself.

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