It seems that no matter what revolution in technology takes place, things always seem to make a full circle. As of a few years ago, the race was on to get to the cloud as quickly as possible. However, in the last couple of years, the cloud wants to come down to on-premises! Things have certainly went full-circle. The big public providers such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft’s Azure have been the leaders in the field for their cloud offering and Infrastructure as a Service offerings in particular. Amazon has dropped a bombshell on the cloud community and on-premises enterprise datacenters by announcing Amazon AWS Outposts to Run AWS VMware Cloud on AWS on-premises. Let’s take a closer look at this new offering from Amazon AWS and see the perspective use case for this type of environment and infrastructure and how it weighs into the mix with such solutions as VMware Cloud on AWS.
AWS Outposts Overview
There are two variants of the AWS Outposts solution according to the official documentation found here: https://aws.amazon.com/outposts/features/
AWS native variant
The AWS native variant of AWS Outposts allows you to use the same exact APIs and control plane you use in the AWS cloud, but on-premises. You will be able to run Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) on Outposts. At launch or in the months after, we plan to add services like RDS, ECS, EKS, SageMaker, EMR.
The VMware variant allows you to run VMware Cloud on AWS locally on Outposts to use the same VMware control plane and APIs you use to run your on-premises infrastructure. This variant delivers the entire VMware Software-Defined Datacenter (SDDC) – compute, storage, and networking infrastructure – to run on-premises using AWS Outposts and allows you to take advantage of the ease of management and integration with AWS services.
New Focus Back on Edge and On-Premises
While this announcement from Amazon was shocking today and is being seen as sending shockwaves through enterprise datacenters after the announcement, Amazon really isn’t the first to do this. We all know and have heard about Azure Stack. This is a very similar offering to what Azure Stack is, however, with Amazon being the market leader in cloud and having exceptionally strong ties and relationships with powerhouse companies such as VMware with the VMware Cloud on AWS offering, Amazon is always the one that everyone is watching and trying to play catch up to. Amazon AWS Outposts is unique however, in that Amazon is partnering specifically with VMware to deliver their Cloud on AWS to on-premises environments and also to deliver their own native Amazon environment, on-premises.
We are really starting to see a renewed focus back on-premises from the enterprise as well as from the big players in the field of virtualization and cloud themselves. VMware has a new beta service that you may have already heard about called Project Dimension that is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service offering from VMware where they bring VMware infrastructure on-premises to your edge environment, provision the hardware and software, fully manage and monitor the solution, as well as take care of patching and full life cycle management. In this way, customers in these newly significant edge environments where massive amounts of data are being harvested and gathered thanks to the flood of data driven devices such as IoT and others. Many of these edge environments are not good candidates to send data to the cloud either due to latency requires, connection reliability or other reasons. So, it is obvious that VMware is one among many companies seeing where the pendulum is swinging and the edge environments are a massively growing sector among enterprise IT.
Thinking about how cloud has grown and how many businesses are now running part if not all of their business-critical infrastructure in the cloud, cloud infrastructure has certainly taken center stage as the prominent force in enterprise IT. However, organizations and customers today are no longer happy with the hard lines that have long been drawn between on-premises and cloud environments. Businesses today want solutions and infrastructure that is seamless between on-premises and cloud. They want their workloads to be able to run either on-premises or in the cloud and be able to move back and forth between those environments without regard for all the complexities and other challenges that have long stood in the way
VMware Cloud on AWS Helping to Pave the Way
The unique relationship between VMware and Amazon AWS has, IMHO, helped to pave the way for Amazon to do this. It sweetens the deal of what enterprises can do with the on-premises version of AWS. Most enterprise environments today are running VMware in their SDDC environments and have been for quite some time. This familiarity with VMware products and methodologies will certainly help organizations see very quick time to value and understand the benefits of being able to hybridize their VMware environments with AWS on-premises.
While there may be latency restrictions that have prevented some workloads from being natively placed in AWS, organizations may want and need the API driven control and management plane they are used to working with in AWS. By having VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts, they get the best of both worlds delivered to their on-premises datacenter.
Features of VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts
The VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts solution offers many tremendous benefits to enterprise customers including:
- Fully managed physical and virtual infrastructure – Mirroring the way that VMware is managing the VMware Cloud on AWS infrastructure and environemnts for customers today, the VMware Cloud on AWS outposts will allow the same type of fully managed solution. VMware SREs will monitor the environments from top to bottom. Any upgrades/patches will be coordinated with customers who have the ability to create blackout periods or other factors that affect when these maintenance operations are carried out. The tremendous benefit here is that customers are able to be relieved of the burden of management of the underlying physical and virtual infrastructure, and concentrate on applications and services they want to deliver.
- Enterprise Hardware spec’ed by Amazon/VMware – Similarly speced M5a/M5, C5, R5, R5a) EC2 instances will be represented in physical form. These can be scaled from a single entry-level server and then scale as their business needs change over time. This can extend to multiple racks full of AWS equipment. Sub-rack units are available as well.
- Single Pane-of-Glass Management – The VMware Cloud Console will manage the on-premises version of VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts instances. Additionally, customers can also manage their existing VMware infrastructure as well as VMware Cloud on AWS, and Project Dimension managed edge deployments.
- Network Resiliency – Customers will configure either a direct connection to AWS from on-premises or utilize a VPN to the AWS region geographically closest to them. Any failures of network connectivity between the on-premises and cloud environments will self-heal in a sense in that events and metrics will be replayed to the cloud after connectivity is reestablished. Additionally, the environment will be able to run on its own without connectivity during the isolated state.
- Run VMware specific AWS Services On-Premises – Customers get the ability to run native Amazon AWS services on-premises in their own datacenters. These include elastic vSAN capability with EBS-backed storage for vSAN. The region specific services such as S3 and EFS will continue to run in the AWS cloud. AMIs will be streamed to the on-premises location from AWS and then cached locally to reduce bandwidth and allow running locally during network disconnection
- Familiar VMware SDDC – Customers who are already familiar with VMware Cloud on AWS will have no problems with the new AWS Outposts offering. The same vSphere UI and API will be available for consumption. The same tooling such as the vSphere API, SDKs and CLIs will be able to operate the VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts offering.
- Native extension of VMware Cloud on AWS – the on-premises AWS Outposts offering will natively integrate with the VMware Cloud on AWS running in the cloud. This will allow extremely powerful functionality such as bursting workloads up into the cloud during DR, or other situations.
- Run native AWS EC2 instances on-premises – Customers can also run native AWS EC2 instances on-premises. Any EC2 instances that may need to have low-latency connectivity to on-premises resources may be a great fit for running inside the AWS Outposts infrastructure.
Deploying VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts
It will be a process of getting the hardware on-premises and then migrating workloads.
- Customer will receive the hardware
- Hardware will be provisioned and be brought online
- VMware Migration Center will be used to seamlessly migrate workloads from existing vSphere infrastructure to VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts.
- VMware HCX is used as the underlying technology to perform the migration. VMware HCX delivers secure and seamless app mobility and infrastructure hybridity across vSphere 5.0+ versions, on-premises and in the cloud.
- After the migration has been completed to the VMware Cloud on AWS, the VMware Migration Center can be used to configure further VMware integrations such as AppDefense, NSX, Wavefront, and Site Recovery Manager
VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2
This is an integrated collaboration between VMware and EC2 that provides VMware products and technololgies that are built specifically for Amazon EC2 workloads including the EC2 instances that are running on AWS Outposts. This solution allows easily integrating EC2 on AWS Outposts and EC2 on AWS Cloud with on-premises resources while using the same tooling and methodologies they are familiar with. This allows for the following capabilities:
- Customers can also enable and consume pre-installed VMware Cloud Foundation software from the EC2 cloud console. Utilizing VMware NSX, customers will be able to connect environments with EC2 workloads, AWS Outposts workloads and on-premises networks.
- Network security by way of microsegmentation will be possible with the application of relevant security policies across all the various workloads.
- Customers will be able to use AppDefense as well as data protection APIs that are compatible with EC2 instances.
- This all comes with the benefits of a unified management platform as well as a common application development platform.
How will VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2 be deployed?
With the click of a button from the VMware Cloud Console, customers will be able to deliver VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2 capabilities for current EC2 workloads.
Resources for More Information on Amazon AWS Outposts
The news of Amazon AWS Outposts to Run AWS and VMware Cloud on AWS On-premises has certainly sent shock waves through the IT community from the release of the news. Having native AWS EC2 instances running on-premises as well as having the ability to run an on-premises version of VMware Cloud on AWS will allow having a single management platform for the entire SDDC stack from VMware to AWS, on-premises and cloud in both cases. There has certainly seemed to be a revolution in focus from the enterprise and public cloud vendors to a renewed attention to on-premises and edge environments. It will be interesting to see how this affects hypervisors across the board and how customers are willing to run workloads over the next couple of years. More information to come on VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts.