EMC and VMware team with Atos to create European cloud company Canopy

New company expects to open the app store in April, offering a full range of apps

EMC and VMware are teaming with French IT services company Atos to create a European cloud infrastructure provider, Canopy, the companies announced Wednesday.

Inspired by the success of consumer online app stores, Canopy will offer an enterprise app store selling standard business applications, with the goal of building an open ecosystem selling apps from independent software vendors, Atos CEO Thierry Breton said in a conference call with the press.

Canopy is still in negotiations with developers, but expects to open the app store in April, offering a full range of apps including enterprise email, PLM (product lifecycle management) and ECM (engineering change management), analytics, ERP and CRM by year-end, Breton said.

Atos is already working with Ufida, a Chinese developer of management software, to offer software as a service through their joint venture, Yunano, and Canopy will also offer Yunano's SaaS apps, Atos said.

Canopy will also have a platform-as-a-service offering, and plans to offer a private cloud service.

The joint venture will sell its cloud services to businesses and public sector organizations, primarily using technology from EMC and VMware. It will be majority-owned by Atos, which will nominate its CEO, while EMC and VMware will also hold stakes. The headquarters will be in Europe. The companies plan to invest a few tens of millions of euros, and will finalize their shareholder agreement in the second quarter, Breton said.

The company will begin work with around 100 consultants and strategists, Breton said.

EMC CEO Joe Tucci, also on the conference call, said Canopy's services will be highly automated. "This automation layer will change the way you consume IT," he said.

Today's IT services "need to be easy to use while meeting business requirements, and need to be available on short cycles, and we believe that cloud computing is the answer," said Breton.

"Atos brings complementary capabilities, including its strengths in Europe," said Tucci.

EMC will never sell a SaaS offering of its own, preferring to partner with other customers, he said.

"We will not be successful without partners. You have to partner deeply. You don't want just one partner, but you don't want thousands either," he said, adding that the cloud partnership with Atos is not exclusive.

One concern that businesses have about cloud computing is that they don't necessarily know where their data is being held, making it difficult to comply with data protection laws in jurisdictions such as the European Union, which places strict controls on the export of personal data.

Although Canopy will use Atos data centers all around the world, "We will comply with local regulations on data protection and data localization," said Breton.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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