VMware Acquires Cetas, Weaponizes Cloud Big Data

VMware is getting into the big data game with the purchase of Cetas Software, a Palo Alto, California-based startup that provides a Hadoop-based analytics and business intelligence platform that can be deployed on Amazon Web Services on VMware vSphere infrastructure. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Here’s how VMware is turning cloud-based analytics into a weapon against the likes of Amazon EC2 and OpenStack.

To hear Krishnan Subramanian, Principal Analyst at Rishidot Research, tell it, the future of platform-as-a-service lies in the integration of big data as a core component. By pulling data-as-a-service into the core stack, you create a more intelligent platform whereby apps can both provide and benefit from the insights generated. That’s where Cetas comes into VMware’s strategy.

By purchasing Cetas, VMware can not only enable customers to take advantage of its business intelligence for its own platform, but also pull that same functionality into its Cloud Foundry PaaS and vFabric portfolio. Cetas specializes in online app analytics, IT & operational analytics and enterprise Hadoop analytics. And soon, developers will be able bring that muscle to bear by building next-generation, analytics-driven apps on top of VMware infrastructure.

But it’s not out of the goodness of their hearts, of course. Subramanian indicates that VMware has a lot to lose if Amazon Web Services, OpenStack, or any other commodity cloud platform starts eating into its cornerstone infrastructure business. In short, VMware purchased Cetas to shore up its offering and give customers one fewer reason not to move outside the VMware ecosystem.

After all, apart from Amazon Web Services and its DynamoDB data storage product, very few of the established players have started moving towards the next-generation PaaS that Subramanian envisions. Startups like Flow.net offer some of the same functionality, but aren’t competing in the same market just yet. And so, VMware can move up the stack, offer customers a potential business edge, and sell premium infrastructure products and services to customers.

“It is like ‘stay in your comfort zone while we also offer the next generation of services.’ It is a much easier message for their sales team to sell than selling an entirely new service in an entirely new market,” Subramanian told me in an instant message conversation.

Of course, that position isn’t unassailable. VMware’s edge here only lasts as long as it takes the other cloud players to catch up and bring big data into their own platforms.

As for Cetas itself, VMware could have done a lot worse for itself: An 18-month-old startup, Cetas counts members of the Fortune 1000 as members. Under the terms of the acquisition, it appears that VMware will be allowing Cetas to continue operating as a startup under its own umbrella, which means customers shouldn’t see much of a change. But it shouldn’t be too long before VMware starts bringing Cetas technology into its fold.