VMware answers to Microsoft on its OEM agreement with Novell

Could the week end without a new marketing skirmish between Microsoft and VMware? Of course not, or at least not when a long time Microsoft partner is involved.

Just last week VMware announced a new, rather surprising OEM deal with Novell, which allows the virtualization vendor to distribute SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) as part of the upcoming vSphere 4.1.
Additionally, VMware announced a plan to adopt SLES as the guest operating system of choice for all its virtual appliances.

Microsoft didn’t react too well (you can say it by the way they misspelled the name of the competitor, something that didn’t happen in a long time), and published its own interpretation of the deal, suggesting that customers may be locked into an inflexible offering:

…looks like VMWare finally determined that virtualization is a server OS feature. I’m sure we’ve said that once or twice over the years ;-). The vFolks now plan to ship a full version of a server OS with vSphere, and support it, to fulfill their application development and application deployment plans.

Fourth, this is a bad deal for customers as they’re getting locked into an inflexible offer. Check out the terms and conditions.

VMware replies back today.

Nothing unexpected in the replay, with VMware arguing that Azure is an even bigger attempt to lock customers in Windows:

Ultimately Microsoft’s strategy with Azure it to have customers run applications on Microsoft operating systems using Microsoft databases in Microsoft datacenters…. looks like the mother of all lock-ins.

But the reply contains a couple of interesting statements. The first is:

…The OEM agreement with Novell doesn’t change our commitment to guest operating system neutrality…

Hopefully it will stay this way, while the maintainer of the other major Linux guest operating system, Red Hat, continues to build a competing virtual infrastructure based on KVM and a cloud infrastructure that support multiple hypervisors.

The second is:

Microsoft clearly “forgets” about VMware’s 1,000+ vCloud partners and public infrastructure as-a-service solutions based on VMware technology like vCloud Express.

VMware just has four hosting partners that offer vCloud Express. And all of them, as far as we know, still offer the product in beta. A fifth one, Logica, has been removed (or has retired) from the program without any explanation, leaving the entire EMEA without a single vCloud provider.
The other over 1000 partners that are working on this program still have to deliver a single piece of cloud infrastructure, simply because the foundation software of the vCloud architecture, called vCloud Service Director (vCSD), is not here yet.