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VMware brought out its new Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) offering, the vCloud Hybrid Service, to US customers several days ago. Now it has to persuade as many of them as possible — and foreign customers, too — that running certain applications in external data centers, or using those centers for testing, or backing up data, makes a world of sense.

Fortunately, VMware customers Bechtel and Digital River had good things to say about the product at VentureBeat’s CloudBeat conference in San Francisco today.

While some developers appear to be interested in porting workloads among different public clouds, Christian Reilly, manager of EPC Systems at Bechtel, said he sees the new VMware public cloud as a vehicle to move certain applications from existing on-premise infrastructure to external clouds. And he thinks that capability could be of use to other big companies. “I’ve not seen too many cases of enterprises being able to move workloads in different environments,” Reilly said.

(Update 1:30pm Pacific: Bechtel is a VMware customer, but is not using vCloud Hybrid Service.)

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As for cloudbursting a given application from the on-premise facility to a cloud when traffic peaks — VMware or not — that’s more unicorns and rainbows than anything else, Reilly said.

Digital River chief information officer Christopher Rence sees advantages on the compliance front. If an operations employee were to move an application off one cloud and onto another, the CIO could be left sweating the matter of data safety. “[The employee] logged on, created environments, spun up applications, moved data,” he said. “Where’s the certification that that data has been destroyed? Because that’s my compliance data.” Running applications exclusively on premise or in VMware-approved data centers could ease these types of CIO worries.

Ben Kepes, an analyst with Diversity Limited, gave points to VMware for focusing on giving enterprises a solution they’d like to use, instead of something a developer at a startup would be interested in, which lots of other IaaS providers have gone after. Some enterprises have been slower than startups to jump into public clouds, and Kepes was highlighting how VMware is catering to a large base with its vCloud Hybrid Service.

These are just the right kind of notes for VMware cloud customers and commentators to be hitting. The question is how fast VMware will be able to sell customers — and other companies — on the cloud and stave off threats from the many other earlier public-cloud vendors.

Look for VMware to talk up its ability to simplify management of on- and off-premise applications using existing tools. Mathew Lodge, vice president of cloud at VMware, threw in a line about the importance of such capability. “That’s the most expensive piece,” Lodge said. “Nobody can afford completely different management tools.”

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