Three years after its CEO warned partners that any enterprise storage customers using Amazon Web Services (AWS) would be lost to VMware Inc. forever, the cloud and virtualization software and services provider turned Dell Technologies Inc. subsidiary has announced a new hybrid cloud service… that runs on AWS.

Announced Thursday, with a planned release date of mid-2017, VMware Cloud on AWS is an on-demand, scalable service that will give enterprise customers access to VMWare’s full range of software-defined data center (SDDC) services, but with their content stored on and supported by the AWS public cloud.

It will also be the first result from a new partnership that, going forward, will see AWS serving as VMware’s primary public cloud infrastructure partner and VMware serving as AWS’s primary private cloud partner.

In an Oct. 13 statement, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said his company’s new offering represents “the best of both worlds.”

“This new service will make it easier for customers to preserve their investment in existing applications and processes while taking advantage of the global footprint, advanced capabilities, and scale of the AWS public cloud,” he said.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy, meanwhile, said customers have long asked his company to make it easier for them to run their existing datacentre investments alongside AWS, and that collaborating with VMWare represented the perfect solution.

“Most enterprises are already virtualized using VMware, and now with VMware Cloud on AWS, for the first time, it will be easy for customers to operate a consistent and seamless hybrid IT environment… without having to purchase custom hardware, rewrite their applications, or modify their operating model,” he said.

In their press release, the companies noted that most enterprises rely on VMWare to run applications in vSphere-based private clouds, often while running applications on AWS.

To close the gap, VMware Cloud on AWS will run on joint architecture, powered by VMware Cloud Foundation, a unified SDDC platform that integrates VMware vSphere, VMware Virtual SAN and NSX virtualization technologies while providing access to AWS’s full range of functions and services.

The service represents a significant investment in engineering, operations, support, and sales resources from both companies, they said.

Holger Mueller, VP and principal analyst at Constellation Research, called the announcement a “good move” for customers and vendors, though he was less certain of the deal’s long-term benefits for VMWare.

“Customers can now move their loads from on premises to AWS; Amazon gets an enterprise load that it could not address before without customers re-implementing and testing the load on AWS. VMware can monetize the transfer with the hope of maybe getting a load back,” Mueller said. “In the long term, I’m not sure how VMware can win here, assuming things move to the cloud.”

Zohar Alon, CEO of cloud network security firm and AWS partner Dome9 Security, also called the announcement “a radical shift for VMware, given their history with AWS,” but noted that it was less of a surprise than it would have been three years ago, given the recent push by businesses to go cloud-first for mission-critical services, applications and infrastructure.

“Nobody wants to miss the boat on this opportunity, VMware included,” Alon said. “Ultimately, customers will benefit from the choice of environments for running their workloads.”

Pricing for VMware Cloud on AWS will be revealed closer to the service’s general availability date.

VMWare was not able to provide with further comment by press time, while an Amazon representative said the company would not be providing further comments regarding the project.

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