Amazon Web Services and VMware have forged an alliance to offer a hybrid cloud-computing solution to allow companies that operate their own data centers to more easily have a foot in the so-called “public” cloud.

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Amazon Web Services and VMware have forged an alliance to offer a hybrid cloud-computing solution to allow companies that operate their own data centers to more easily have a foot in the so-called “public” cloud.

The move marks a step into a territory dear to crosstown rival Microsoft, which touts its deep knowledge of enterprise software as a selling point for its own growing cloud services.

AWS, Amazon’s cloud-computing unit, is by far the largest purveyor of on-demand storage and computing power to entities that don’t want the hassle of running their own warehouses stocked with servers and other equipment.

Meanwhile, VMware offers software and an operating environment for companies that want their own “private” cloud.

As a company with a market cap of $31 billion, VMware is a big player in that field. It has hundreds of thousands of customers, many of which would like to move their computing needs to a public cloud but don’t want to spend money or time redesigning their systems from scratch, says Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with Forrester, a research firm.

“This is a good move for both companies,” Bartoletti said in a statement. “This alliance offers a migration path to simplify running VMware-based apps both on-premises and in the cloud.”

The move was announced by AWS Chief Executive Andy Jassy and VMware Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger at an event in San Francisco.

“This is the result of our customers telling us what they needed,” Gelsinger said.

Amazon’s tie-up with VMware represents a challenge to Microsoft, which has worked in recent years to build its own cloud-computing network to rival Amazon.

Much of Microsoft’s pitch to potential customers has emphasized the company’s expertise in building Windows Server and other software for customer-owned data centers as well as Microsoft’s own public cloud.

Amazon, with its focus squarely on the public cloud, has lacked that capability to guide customers who want to keep their own data centers, Microsoft executives have said.

But VMware’s business-focused sales force, which can now offer hybrid VMware-AWS offerings, could threaten Microsoft’s claimed advantage.

“Microsoft is what they’re looking at,” Thomas Bittman, an analyst with researcher Gartner, said of Amazon and VMware.

The Redmond company is building technologies set for release next year called Azure Stack. The product is designed to run a business’s own data centers but have the same interface as Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing platform.

Microsoft envisions Azure Stack as a way to get more market share among on-premises data centers, while at the same time nudging customers to consider its cloud instead of AWS.

AWS is not VMware’s sole public-cloud partner.

In August, IBM and VMware announced a similar deal to move private cloud computing work to the IBM public cloud. But the news release detailing the latest deal says AWS will be VMware’s primary public-cloud infrastructure partner and VMware will be AWS’ main private-cloud partner.