As if there were any doubt enterprises increasingly favor hybrid cloud, AWS has just launched another option for customers that want the flexibility of public cloud without having to give up on-premises environments just yet, and it involves the hardware it uses in its own data centers.
AWS CEO Andy Jassy introduced AWS Outposts, fully-managed compute and storage racks built with hardware designed by AWS, in Wednesday's keynote at AWS re:Invent. To our knowledge, this is the first instance in which a cloud provider has promised to put the same hardware in customer premises as it has in its own data center.
With AWS Outposts, customers benefit from a consistent hybrid experience since they can use the same APIs and same tools across on-premises and AWS cloud services. This is appealing to developers since they can develop once and deploy in AWS cloud or on-premises without having to rewrite applications.
The service – which is fully managed, maintained and supported by AWS – is an extension of the work it has been doing with VMware through VMware Cloud on AWS, which offers customers a consistent environment to run applications across VMware vSphere-based environments and AWS cloud services.
AWS will deliver racks to customers (and can install them for customers if they prefer) but Jassy said the installation is easy enough for customers to do themselves.
For now, Outposts can run AWS cloud services like Amazon EC2 and Amazon EBS, with more to come. The service will reach general availability in the second half of 2019. The details around pricing and go-to-market plans are forthcoming.
AWS Outposts will come in two variants: VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts, and an AWS native variant of AWS Outposts. VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts will give customers the same VMware control pane and APIs they already use to run on their infrastructure, delivering the entire VMware SDDC to run on-premises and managed as a service. The AWS native variant is aimed at customers who prefer the APIs and control plane they are used to running in AWS, but on-premises.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, VMware’s Cloud Platform Business Unit SVP and VM Mark Lohmeyer said that customers have been telling VMware that they want to have the flexibility to run their application workloads where they choose, whether that is private cloud, public cloud or the edge.
“Historically that has been very hard to do because these different environments have different tools, there are operational inconsistencies, there are different security controls, even different machine formats,” he said. “So, two years ago, VMware and AWS came together to solve some of these fundamental challenges.”
Lohmeyer said that the new solutions around AWS Outposts are the next step in addressing these enterprise challenges. VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts is effectively data center infrastructure delivered as a service, he said, ideal for customers that have standardized their data centers around VMware.
VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2 is an integrated solution that combines VMware solutions around networking, security and operations, and extends them to Amazon EC2 running on Outposts.
“The idea here is that we can deliver customers better interoperability and a rich set of VMware enterprise capabilities for workloads running in EC2 on-premises,” Lohmeyer said.
Joined by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger on stage, Jassy said that the venture has been “a terrific partnership where the teams work closely together.”
“We’re trying to listen to what you most want, and continue to innovate quickly together,” he said.
The partnership has been equally fruitful for VMware, Gelsinger said, who added that any time VMware on AWS comes to a new region, it is seeing pent-up customer demand.
But despite the friendly banter between Jassy and Gelsinger on stage, Lohmeyer is quick to deny that these new solutions and its partnership with AWS mean that it is playing favorites.
“No, we’re not showing any preference for the AWS hardware, we’re supporting the AWS hardware just like we support hardware from all the leading vendors in the industry,” he said.