Amazon Web Services Enters On-Premises Cloud Server Market with AWS Outposts


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Ever since it first invented the modern cloud market, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been primarily focused on enabling customers to benefit from its public cloud infrastructure. At AWS re:invent on Nov. 28, the cloud giant broke the mold, announcing its new AWS Outposts service, which brings the AWS cloud and AWS hardware to on-premises deployments.

“AWS Outposts are fully managed and configurable compute and storage racks built with AWS-designed hardware that you can use to operate a seamless hybrid cloud,” AWS explained in an FAQ on the new service. “AWS Outposts extend native AWS services to virtually any customer data center, co-location space, or on-premises facility.”

AWS will be using the same purpose-built hardware that it uses in its own data center regions for the Outposts services.

AWS Outposts is not the first time AWS has made hardware available to its customers, though it is the first in which compute hardware is being made available. The AWS Snowball service that has been available for the last few years provides AWS hardware for storage to help organizations transfer large amounts of data to the cloud.

How AWS Outposts Work

AWS is set to make AWS Outposts available in a manner that is nearly identical to how cloud instances in its public cloud are available. Organizations can choose what EC2 instance types and what storage options they want to run.

The Outpost system will be available in single server configurations and will also be scalable to multiple racks. The Outpost server system hardware itself is managed and maintained by AWS.

“AWS automatically operates, updates, and maintains the infrastructure management software, eliminating the overhead of regularly downloading new software, upgrading to new functionality, or applying security patches,” AWS stated. “For hardware upgrades, you can choose to have AWS perform the upgrades or have your own staff follow simple upgrade instructions.”

VMware Integration with AWS Outposts

In additional to the regular EC2 services, AWS is providing a VMware variant of Outposts that will enable organizations to run VMware Cloud on AWS locally. In that model, VMware’s virtualization services are available in a service consumption model, in an on-premises deployment running on AWS local hardware.

In a call with press, Mark Lohmeyer, Senior Vice-President and General Manager of the Cloud Platform business unit at VMware, explained what the new VMware variant of Outposts is all about.

“Two years ago, VMware and AWS came together in a partnership to help solve some fundamental challenges and we announced VMWare cloud on AWS, and it was really about bringing the core enterprise class benefits of VMware to the cloud and giving them that consistent environment between their private cloud and public cloud,” Lohmeyer said.

“What we announced today between the two companies, you can think about it really as the next major step in that journey in that vision of delivering our joint customers completely consistent hybrid cloud architecture across these different scenarios,” Lohmeyer continued.

“Effectively, what it is that we’re delivering is the same complete VMware Software Defined data center stack as a service that we have enabled running previously on the public cloud. We’re now enabling that exact same service, the same rich set of capabilities, delivered as a VMware cloud service to our customers, but running on prem, on the AWS outpost, on bare metal infrastructure,” he added.

Lohmeyer emphasized that VMware for AWS Outposts is just another hardware deployment option for VMware customers, and it does not displace the company’s existing server hardware partnerships with other vendors, including Dell EMC, HPE and others.

In response to a question from ServerWatch, Lohmeyer explained that core VMware vSphere capabilities such as the ability to vMotion transfer workloads are fully supported, enabling users to dynamically move workloads from existing on-premises VMware deployments to AWS Outpost deployments.

“Literally every enterprise class feature  customers have come to depend on from the VMware software platform, they will be able to take advantage of in a completely consistent way in their data center,” he said.