Amazon and VMware, former rivals in the cloud industry, have now teamed up to offer customers a more powerful cloud computing service known as VMware Cloud on AWS.

With the service, businesses will have the choice of running their computing operations on their own data centers equipped with VMware or on web servers hosted by Amazon.

VMware Cloud on AWS, which was announced at a press conference in San Francisco, will bring the cloud-optimized versions of VMware's vSphere, NSX and VSAN software to the cloud. It is currently in technical preview, but it is said that VMware will operate and support the service, which will run on purpose-built hardware in the data centers of Amazon Web Services.

A beta version, which will only be open to customers by invitation, will begin early next year. The service is expected to come out of beta and launch in the middle of 2017.

Customers will be able to run the applications partly on their own servers and partly on the cloud, which will allow VMware customers to tap into the advantages presented by the cloud without having to abandon the investments they have made in their data centers, software and servers.

"With this announcement today, [customers] don't have to make that choice anymore," said AWS head Andy Jassy, with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger calling AWS the primary public-cloud offering of VMware.

Jassy believes that the transition for businesses away from physical data centers into an all-cloud setup will continue into the near future. However, he suggested that the hybrid structure presented by the VMware Cloud on AWS service could prove to be more popular in the near term.

"We do have a perspective that we're going through a gigantic transition right now from people running everything on-premises to people running mostly in the cloud, but that transition is going to take a long time," said Jassy, with no indication on how much time that transition will take.

At the event where VMware Cloud on AWS was announced, the companies also introduced a pair of early customers for the service, namely Sysco and Western Digital. The service will initially be only available to certain AWS regions, but Jassy claims that it will eventually be available to all customers.

The partnership further strengthens Amazon's leadership status in the public cloud market against Microsoft's Azure, which is considered to be the best challenger to AWS. Hybrid cloud computing has been one of the main advantages of Azure, and with such a service now being offered by Amazon, the company could be looking to attract customers away from its competitor.

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