10 Things Solution Providers Need To Know About VMware Cloud On AWS

The Next Act For VMware Cloud On AWS

Now that VMware Cloud on AWS has been on the market, albeit at limited scale, for a half-year, the two enterprise tech giants behind the groundbreaking partnership are taking the next step to advance its capabilities and reach.

VMware and AWS CEOs, channel leaders and engineers shared information about how the hybrid service is being upgraded and expanded in several videos posted online Wednesday morning. Their channel chiefs and several partners also spoke to CRN about the latest milestones.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said the "industry-changing partnership" the companies forged 15 months ago is "now essential to our cloud strategy."

AWS CEO Andy Jassy said the "customer response to the offering has just been amazing."

The companies are now rolling out the product in Europe, and VMware has released a new partner program around the offering while extending recently added private cloud capabilities to the hybrid service.

Channel Convergence

The most interesting result of the partnership between the world's largest public and private cloud vendors may be that channels and ecosystems that once had little overlap are now converging around the new joint product.

"You're going to see these ecosystems converge more and more based on huge customer demand and the opportunity to deliver a massive set of offerings when you combine both capabilities," AWS Channel Chief Terry Wise told CRN.

VMware partners see the hybrid service as an opportunity to expand their practices into the cloud, and forge a new alliance with the global public cloud leader. And born-in-the-cloud solution providers are leveraging VMware Cloud on AWS to step into the data center for the first time, Wise told CRN.

Partner Program Enhancements

VMware has now brought VMware Cloud on AWS, the centerpiece of its cloud strategy, into its VMware Partner Network.

That formalization of the channel program around the new service brings distinct benefits for resellers and consultancies in the VMware Solution Provider Program, and managed services providers who host VMware clouds through the VMware Cloud Providers Program.

With the channel program additions, partners will see new training opportunities, tools and financial incentives to drive successful hybrid cloud practices, VMware Channel Chief Brandon Sweeney said.

The channel structure has been designed to help solution providers, MSPs and systems integrators build "a true hybrid cloud business," said Ray O'Farrell, VMware's CTO.

The centerpiece of that effort is the new VMware Cloud on AWS Solution Competency, which more than a dozen early access partners already have earned.

Cloud Cadence

AWS has astonished the industry with the breakneck cadence at which it adds features to its cloud. That celebrated pace of innovation is being applied to the new effort with its private cloud partner, VMware.

"We've been iterating quickly on behalf of our joint customers," AWS' Jassy said. "Were not close to being done working together to allow you to have more functionality in the offering and to run in a hybrid mode for the next number of years easier and easier."

VMware's Sweeney told CRN last week: "There's tremendous alignment to go drive this service with a sense of urgency. We're going to get into a quarterly cadence talking about incremental services both of our partners are building to continue to drive this infrastructure."

Use Cases

The channel will play a key role in helping customers determine how and when to leverage the hybrid cloud service effectively based on cost, security and performance considerations, said Shawn Toldo, VMware's vice president of solution partner programs.

VMware has laid out a few core use cases: disaster recovery, cloud migration, application migration, expansion into new geographies, and on-demand capacity.

But partners are encouraged to think out of the box.

Groupware, a joint VMware and AWS partner that participated in the early access program, is leveraging the new service to assist customers undergoing the messy process of integrating their IT after mergers and acquisitions.

Ed Horley, Groupware's vice president of engineering, told CRN: "Every partner needs to figure out what the use cases are going to be that make sense for their customer base."

Customer Wins

In the video presentations put up Wednesday, AWS and VMware leaders named some high-profile customers turning to their joint hybrid cloud service.

Scripps Networks Interactive, the content provider behind the Travel Channel, Food Network and HGTV, is taking advantage of VMware Cloud on AWS to migrate more workloads to the cloud, said Gelsinger.

Adidas has been eager to leverage the product once it becomes available in Europe, Jassy said.

Brink's, a global security and armored transport company, is also turning to the hybrid solution to increase its agility, he said.

There's interest from "every imaginable vertical segment and workload type," Jassy added.

Global Expansion

The European public cloud market is projected to double over the next four years, Gelsinger said. But Europe has notoriously "stringent demands" when it comes to data sovereignty and privacy laws.

VMware Cloud on AWS debuted last August only in North America. Now the expansion into Europe is under way, starting this week with general availability in London. Soon the service will also be hosted out of the AWS region in Frankfurt, Germany.

The expansion offers European businesses increased performance and reduced latency by bringing services closer to customers and employees while addressing regulatory concerns, VMware's O'Farrell said.

Gelsinger and Jassy had promised that by the end of 2018, VMware Cloud on AWS will be available in every major market.

A newly signed systems integration partner, Fujitsu, will play a large role in driving the expansion into Europe and the rest of the world.

Private Cloud Features Emerge In The Public Cloud

Coinciding with the international expansion of VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware has upgraded its cloud portfolio, especially the joint AWS product, with a slate of services recently introduced to on-premises customers.

VMware's O'Farrell said many of the capabilities added in four releases since the VMworld conference last August have now been extended as core features of VMware Cloud on AWS.

"This is a testament to the way VMware is adapting to the new ways we deliver products and services," he said.

The capabilities are consistent with VMware's larger focus of delivering consistent infrastructure and consistent operations across any cloud.

Maintaining High Availability

The hallmark of VMware infrastructure has always been high availability. Customers have expressed concerns about whether that will remain true in the public cloud, said O'Farrell.

To ensure it does, VMware is introducing to its joint product with AWS several features that are used to protect the integrity and availability of applications running in private data centers virtualized with its technology.

That starts with Stretch Clusters, a feature extending vSAN clusters across physical sites, which is available in a preview mode.

VMware is also adding to the AWS service vSAN deduplication and compression. Those capabilities, natively built into the storage virtualization product, can cut storage consumption by half and reduce costs up to 40 percent.

"This makes cloud even more attractive," O'Farrell said.

Migrating Across vSphere

A product introduced at VMworld last August has been extended to VMware Cloud on AWS to facilitate application mobility.

Hybrid Cloud Extension rapidly migrates workloads from one vSphere-based cloud to another, be it in a private data center, hosted by an MSP partner or by AWS. The product shifts not only data and apps, but configuration information and security controls, allowing transfers with no operational disruptions. It makes it possible to combine distant servers into one resource pool.

There are two consumption models: Hybrid Cloud Extension Enterprise for on-premises use; Hybrid Cloud Extension for Cloud, which encompasses hosting partners like AWS, IBM and OVH.

Cost And Analytics

Cost Insight, a VMware product delivering granular visibility into cloud costs, has been upgraded to support VMware Cloud on AWS.

The cost-intelligence feature helps customers predict the expenses they will incur for running applications in different vSphere environments. The feature has been integrated with Network Insight to also estimate network egress costs for shuttling workloads and data.

VMware has also built into the hybrid service Log Insight, which applies machine-learning capabilities and analytics to sifting through logs. That service is paired out of the box with visual dashboards.

Wavefront, a real-time streaming metrics platform with dozens of integrations to popular databases and analytics frameworks, has also been rejiggered to monitor workloads running on AWS infrastructure.