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Google opens arms to VMware in the cloud and Microsoft 365 on ChromeOS

From the Department of Improbable Alliances

Google has offered VMware in the cloud and brought support for Microsoft 365 to Linux, which Microsoft itself has never bothered to do.

The last day of January saw an unexpected announcement on Google's Open Source blog. Customers of the Google Cloud Engine can now opt to use VMware ESXi as the underlying hypervisor.

Up until now, the Google Cloud Engine has run on the KVM hypervisor, and the company has described the measures it takes to harden this in the past – possibly in response to previous security issues that have hit the service.

The service is called Google Cloud VMware Engine, and the company also offers a brief [PDF] describing some of the tooling it supports, including Veeam, Cohesity and NetApp. We're not sure whether this involves clusters of bare-metal ESXi instances, or whether it's running VMware under nested virtualization, something the company does support and which is possible.

The VMware Engine also supports automated infrastructure management using Terraform, if Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is your sort of thing. Those more used to rather smaller-scale deployments may know Hashicorp as the vendors of Vagrant.

Google is also opening up and embracing rivals on the client end of things, with the announcement that ChromeOS will "later this year" directly support Microsoft 365.

This doesn't mean that you'll be able to install local versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint on Chromebooks. (Although we would be remiss if we didn't point out that you can do that using Crossover, which supports ChromeOS.) What it means is that ChromeOS will support the Progressive Web App versions you can find on and, more importantly, integrate Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage into the ChromeOS Files app.

That is quite significant as although Microsoft offers both 32-bit and 64-bit OneDrive clients, now including on Arm OSes, even six years after we reported poor performance on Linux, there is still no official OneDrive client for the open source OS.

For that, penguinistas still need to go to a third party or use the versatile rclone tool.

In these times of large scale layoffs in the IT world, we may see more such improbable alliances between rival vendors as companies seek to reduce overlap and duplication between their offerings and thus trim costs. This may be good news for IT directors, but it's bad news for workers in the sector. ®

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