AWS Launches On-Premises Hardware Alongside VMware


Amazon Web Services is diving deep into the on-premises world with the Wednesday unveiling of AWS Outposts, which are fully managed and configured compute and storage racks built with AWS hardware that can run in a customer's on-premises environment.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy was joined on stage at Amazon's re:Invent conference Wednesday by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger to announce the move that brings AWS cloud hardware on-premises with the ability to seamlessly connect to the rest of AWS' services in the cloud.

"Customers are telling us that they don’t want a hybrid experience that attempts to re-create a stunted version of a cloud on-premises because it’s perpetually out of sync with the cloud version and requires a lot of heavy lifting, managing custom hardware, different control planes, different tooling, and manual software updates. There just isn't a lot of value in that type of on-premises offering, and that’s why these solutions aren’t getting much traction," said Jassy in a statement. "So we started with what our customers were asking for and worked backwards. They told us they want an extension of their AWS or VMware Cloud on AWS environment on-premises, using the same hardware we’re using, the same interfaces, the same APIs, the same instant access to the latest AWS capabilities the minute they become available, and they don’t want to manage hardware or software. So, we tried to reimagine what customers really wanted when running in hybrid mode and developed AWS Outposts."

[Related: AWS Andy Jassy To Partners: 'There Are So Many Customers That Need Your Help']

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However, the general availability of AWS outposts won't come to fruition until the second half of 2019. AWS did not mention how the product will be sold.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, a Dell EMC Titanium partner, said AWS Outposts has an "uphill battle" given the on-premises power of companies like Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Cisco Systems.

"The better play from AWS would have been to leverage the infrastructure partners already out there like Dell EMC, HPE and Cisco rather than trying to create your own environment," he said.

Besides that, Venero said pointed out that the product doesn’t hit the market until the second half of 2019, which is tantamount to "decades" in the fast-moving infrastructure market. "If it actually comes to fruition it would be something we would look at in support of our customers, but we have a long-standing relationship with existing infrastructure solutions like Dell EMC that we would not want to damage," he said.

VMware's Gelsinger said that while VMware Cloud on AWS broke the barriers between data centers and the cloud, VMware is expanding its partnership with AWS to provide enterprises with more choice and options for hybrid cloud.

"Our new offerings, VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts and VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2, further extend VMware's vision for consistent infrastructure and consistent operations from the data center to the cloud to the edge," said Gelsinger in a statement.

Outpost delvers racks of AWS compute and storage with the ability to run services like Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) on this AWS-designed infrastructure.

There will be two flavors of AWS Outposts initially available: VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts and native AWS Outposts.

For customers who want to use the same VMware control plane and APIs they've been using to run their infrastructure, they can run VMware Cloud on AWS locally on AWS Outposts. This delivers VMware's entire software-defined data center—which includes compute, storage and networking infrastructure—to run on-premises and be managed as a service from the same console as VMware Cloud on AWS by using AWS Outposts. AWS said it enables customers to take advantage of the ease of management and integration with AWS services that they enjoy today.

The other flavor is for customers who prefer the same APIs and control plane they're used to running in AWS’ cloud, but want it on-premises, they can use the AWS-native variant of AWS Outposts. Customers will have the opportunity to run other software with native AWS Outposts, starting with a new integrated offering from VMware called VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2, which will feature popular VMware technologies and services that work across VMware and Amazon EC2 environments. For example, VMware NSX can help bridge AWS Outposts to local data center networks or leverage AppDefense to protect known good applications as well as VMware's vRealize Automation for workload provisioning.

In both cases, AWS said it will deliver the racks to customers, install them and handle all maintenance and replacement of racks. AWS Outposts will be an extension of a customer's Amazon VPC, allowing customers to seamlessly connect from their AWS Outposts to the rest of their applications in AWS or any other AWS service.