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It’s an interesting conversation people are having in cloud-land at the moment. Microsoft Azure competes more directly with Google AppEngine, and somehow Amazon always comes into the discussion, but VMware, since we aren’t a service provider, isn’t on many people’s radar in this conversation yet. (Peter Laird and Tim O’Reily give pretty lucid cloud taxonomies.) Here VMware’s Dan Chu compares Microsoft’s approach to VMware’s – very worth a read. VMware: Windows Azure More Smoke than Cloud

"With vCloud, we don’t become a service provider," says Chu. "Microsoft
is stepping over the line, and now intends to compete directly against
some of their [hosting and service provider] partners." By comparison,
Chu argues that vCloud is a platform that is supported by a broad range
of third-party service providers, including British Telecom, Saavis,
Rackspace, Terremark, and others.

The second failing of Windows Azure Chu sees is the lack of support for
applications and platforms that aren’t based on the .NET framework.
"[With vCloud] we’re looking to support a broad range of existing
applications…without forcing customers to rewrite applications, or to
only have certain kinds of apps, "says Chu. "VMware’s products are
already providing a platform that people are using to deploy internal
clouds, and that our partners are already using to create external
clouds."