News briefs: VMware public cloud debuts; AWS nets FedRAMP approval

In this week's news briefs, the VMware public cloud officially launches, Dell drops its IaaS offering and AWS gains accreditation from FedRAMP.

VMware enters public cloud with sights on hybrid cloud enablement

VMware drew back the curtain on its first public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) product Tuesday, officially announcing the upcoming launch of a hybrid cloud service that positions the company in direct competition with such IaaS providers as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Rackspace. Touted as being "completely interoperable" with existing VMware infrastructure, the vCloud Hybrid Service is expected to attract customers looking to extend their VMware-based data centers to the cloud. For years VMware tried to keep the project under wraps, code-naming it "Project Zephyr," which former VMware CEO Paul Maritz denied even existed last month, despite rumors of it being his pet project, according to CRN. In March, VMware quietly invited select customers to try out the new IaaS service in a private beta. VMware is selling the new vCloud Hybrid Service directly and through its sales channel, starting in June for early access customers and in the third quarter of the year for other American customers. The company plans to expand to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific region in 2014.

Dell drops its public cloud offering

While VMware made moves on public cloud services, Dell took a step back from IaaS with the announcement that it was scrapping its multi-tenant public cloud service. A group of mid-tier operators will now resell other providers' cloud services through the Dell Cloud Partner Program, structured to prevent platform or pricing lock-in while Dell acts as a single-source supplier. The move didn't exactly surprise analysts, who have noted Dell's struggle to develop a cohesive cloud strategy. As Forrester analyst James Staten told SearchCloudComputing's Beth Pariseau, the issue lies not with public cloud, but with the provider: "The concern here is really more about Dell and its ability to innovate and understand the cloud market."

AWS certified for feds with FedRAMP approval

Securing the government's seal of approval, Amazon Web Services officially has license to store and host federal agencies' data and applications. AWS is only the third company to receive certification from the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and is the first major cloud provider since the accreditation initiative began a year ago. The certification is mandatory for federal agencies looking to store IT resources with low and moderate "risk impact levels" in the cloud, and grew out of the government's "Cloud First" policy, which seeks to use cloud computing to reduce costs and improve agility.

NIST unveils draft cloud security reference architecture

As the government moves to accelerate cloud adoption, the focus on accreditation requirements also grows. All cloud providers storing federal agencies' data must receive FedRAMP approval by June 6, 2014, and while only three have made the cut so far, dozens more are on track to doing so. As part of the effort to help providers through the process, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft version of a Special Publication outlining its view on "Cloud Computing Security Reference Architecture." InfoLawGroup blogger Richard Santalesa noted that while it's clear these standards will influence how cloud providers secure their environments to meet FedRAMP approval, customers in the private sector may also take cues from NIST's guidelines and expect similar efforts from their providers.

SolidFire integrates with Citrix CloudPlatform

Solid-state drive (SSD) storage vendor SolidFire is courting service providers using Citrix's CloudPlatform software -- used for building CloudStack-based IaaS environments -- with its plans to integrate SolidFire's SSD storage with Citrix's platform, a capability the company demonstrated at this week's Citrix Synergy conference in Los Angeles. SolidFire's pitch plays up more granular Quality of Service settings and improved storage performance for cloud providers. The integration will enable providers to provision storage through the CloudPlatform management console.

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