In an apparent attempt to attract more users and build market share, VMware has announced the vCloud Service Evaluation, an online service for potential customers to test-drive a cloud built on its vCloud platform. The vCloud Service Evaluation lets systems admins experiment with vCloud and see the VMware vCloud Director
Here's how it works: Customers can register for the test drive with a credit card and get access within minutes to their own vCloud Director-based cloud environment.
Customers can then deploy pre-built operating system and templates and use vCloud Connector to move workloads from their private cloud or VMware vSphere environment. If they like what they see, they can use vCloud Connector to migrate to a vCloud service provider for production vCloud services.
VMware service providers, including AT&T, Bluelock, mindSHIFT and Attenda, are applauding the move.
Clive Grayson, director of service strategy at Attenda, said, "Giving customers an evaluation of vCloud-IaaS [Infrastructure as a Service] before deploying production workloads through a production provider is a positive step in making the journey to the cloud as easy as possible."
Eliminating Perceived Risks
VMware will also be enhancing the vcloud.vmware.com experience with new, interactive community capabilities. The idea is to offer a forum for cloud consumers to ask questions and share experiences. The community will also offer educational resources such as how-to guides to help with getting started in the public cloud.
We caught up with Zeus Kerravala, principal at ZK Research, to get his take on the new offering from VMware. He told us it's a smart move, considering the perceived risk in deploying clouds.
"Part of the risk is spending the dollars on the cloud and ending up with an unknown value proposition," Kerravala said. "The model that VMware is going with makes a lot of sense because it eliminates the perceived risk for the customer. If they try it and it doesn't work, you simply turn it off and don't use it."
Reaching Tech Geeks
Kerravala is betting systems admins may take the opportunity VMware is extending to build a playground environment much like they do with servers and Cisco routers in their own homes. Now, they can add vCloud to the mix, even if it's just a test version. But it's a potentially potent competitive advantage for VMware.
"If you want to become a ubiquitous resource, sometimes you do need to give it away. If you look at the early days of Microsoft, they did not police the licensing of their operating systems at all. Piracy was rampant but it didn't matter because it made Microsoft a ubiquitous resource," Kerravala said.
"If you can get the world of admins out there used to building clouds the VMware way, then, when they get into roles where they are making corporate decisions, they are going to choose the VMware way."
Customers can register for VMware vCloud Service Evaluation now. The beta invites will be sent out starting Aug. 27, 2012. Prices start at $0.04 an hour for a Linux VM with 1GB of RAM.