Cloud services providers (CSPs) have found their legs and are now gaining strong momentum, according to Raghu Raghuram, executive VP of cloud infrastructure and management at VMware (NYSE: VMW). Raghuram shared those views and more with Talkin' Cloud during this week's VMware Partner Exchange 2013 in Las Vegas.

"A lot of these guys started out as managed hosting providers," said Raghuram. "Selling the cloud competency is not something you wake up in the morning and master in a day." But over the past year or two, those managed hosting providers have become true CSPs while VMware's products matured along the way, he added.

Among the key points Raghuram also shared:

1. Regional cloud momentum: "For awhile EMEA was the hot spot. But last year [2012], the US came back strong."

2. On VMware's new cloud credits partner program, which connects VARs with CSPs: "It's a first for the indusutry. The team had to go through quite a bit of thinking about account control and where each party adds value. We think it's going to be successful. But the next year will teach us quite a lot.

3. On hot services for CSPs: "Test and dev is a horizontal starting point. We have a number of service providers also doing business continuity and disaster recovery. After that we see specialization in the verticals and then specialization in packaged applications.

4. On the software-defined datacenter: "It will happen faster with CSPs [than with enterprises. CSPs are more tech savvy and they have more at stake in terms of driving toward a competitive advantage." Quite a few CSPs, he noted, already leverage vCloud Director.

5. On VCE, the converged data center effort with EMC and Cisco. "We've scored a number of wins with larger service providers. It's about time to value. Service providers don't have time to assemble all the pieces. With VCE they can roll new capacity into their datacenters faster."

6. On end-user computing, including VDI/desktop as a service: "You'll see a lot more hybrid models this year. That means service providers are getting involved."

7. On competing and cooperating with OpenStack: He sees VMware's vCloud Suite as a leader vs. OpenStack. And while vCloud Suite gives CSPs everything they need integrated in one package, OpenStack forces service providers to use a pieacemeal approach, which requires more time to assemble multiple third-party components together. Still, he noted that VMware's Nicera acquisition and other VMware software efforts support OpenStack.

Stay tuned for more perspectives from VMware Partner Exchange 2013. We've got a range of interviews containing some intriguing nuggets of information.