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From the perspective of cloud service providers VMware may be faulted for being a little late to the cloud computing party. But if current momentum is any indication of things to come, the size of the VMware cloud ecosystem is expanding faster than any other.

According to Matthew Lodge, senior director for cloud services for VMware, there are now over 100 verified VMware vCloud public clouds, which he says is an order of magnitude greater than rival platforms combined total. Customers can now also access vCloud in 24 different countries.

The real significance of all this, says Lodge, is that if there is a vibrant vCloud ecosystem in place it won’t be long before customers see those cloud platforms as a natural extension of their internal IT operations. Given VMware’s current dominance of the virtual server market, Lodge says pent up demand for cloud services based on VMware is significant. What should drive that demand is the growing awareness of two issues; one technical the other economic.

From a technical perspective, each new virtual machine makes the enterprise IT environment more complex and difficult to manage. Once a customer gets into the realm of hundreds of virtual servers it’s not long before they start looking for some outside help.

On an economic perspective, many customers are starting to realize how transitory many of these workloads are. Sometimes they are related to application development projects that have a finite beginning and end. Other times the virtual machines are being spun up to handle a sudden spike in performance requirements. Rather than build out their infrastructure to handle peak application workload periods, customer are starting to think in terms of “rightsizing” their IT infrastructure investments by relying on cloud service providers to handle either discrete type of application workload or sudden spikes in application performance requirements.

Of course, the majority of the cloud service business still revolves around disaster recovery and archival storage. But as cloud computing evolves, the relationship between on premise clouds and public cloud services is going to become much tighter. It’s unclear at this point how dynamic those environments will actually be, but Lodge contends that cloud service providers that support VMware are going to be in the best position to profit from it.

Lodge adds that we’ll also see the emergence of more “community clouds” that are designed to address the specific needs of a particular vertical market.  Those clouds might be built by customer, specific cloud service providers or a collection of cloud service providers that have agreed to federate their services.

The biggest challenge, says Lodge, many be simply a lack of focus on the part of the cloud service provider. Lodge says too many cloud service providers are operating like managed hosting companies waiting for customers to discover them in a crowded marketplace. Lodge says cloud service providers focus on specific areas where they add value; otherwise in an era where thousands of clouds are starting to bloom chances are they might not ever get noticed.