LAS VEGAS — Amazon Web Services (AWS) is stretching its tentacles into the on-premises data center even more, offering the same kind of hardware it uses in its own data centers. Wednesday at AWS re:Invent, it said that it would offer configurable compute and storage hardware for customers to run in their private data centers. The new offering — AWS Outposts — will also help customers connect their on-premises environments to AWS’ services in the public cloud.
AWS is partnering with VMware for Outposts. This is an extension of their ongoing relationship. In 2017, the two companies introduced VMware Cloud on AWS, which was touted as a way for VMware customers to run their workloads in the public cloud using their existing VMware software stack.
AWS CEO Andy Jassy said the company created Outposts because it got consistent feedback from customers that they didn’t like the existing hybrid solutions in the market. Outposts will give them compute and storage on premises and connect that to their closest AWS region.
Outposts will initially come in two variants. For customers that want to use the same VMware control plane and APIs they’ve been using to run their infrastructure, they will be able to run VMware Cloud on AWS locally on AWS Outposts. This variant delivers the entire VMware Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) — compute, storage, and networking infrastructure — to run on premises and managed as a service from the same console as VMware Cloud on AWS.
For customers who prefer the same APIs and control plane they’re accustomed to running in AWS’ cloud, they can use the AWS native variant of AWS Outposts.
In both cases, AWS will deliver the racks to customers, install them if the customers want, and handle all maintenance and replacement of racks.
According to AWS, many customers will need to run some applications on premises for the foreseeable future. And the company says its attempts to work with other vendors “have fallen short.” Jassy said AWS’ partnership with VMware works because “most of the world is virtualized on top of VMware.”
In many ways Outposts seems like a logical progression.
Al Sadowski, an analyst with 451 Research tweeted that Outposts “goes up against” Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform among others that provide a hybrid offering.
Microsoft provides Azure Stack, which lets enterprises build a private-cloud version of the Azure public cloud in their own data centers. And Google provides its GKE On-Prem for customers to get the Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) experience in their own data centers.
And AWS, itself, has delivered services such as Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), AWS Direct Connect, and Amazon Storage Gateway to make it easier for customers who want to run their on-premises data centers alongside AWS.
The thing that’s different with AWS’ announcement Wednesday is that AWS will be providing hardware to enterprise customers.
VMware’s CEO Pat Gelsinger joined Jassy in a press conference. He lightly touched on an issue that could have interesting implications for VMware’s relationship with its sister company, Dell EMC. “This is a different hardware footprint that does have some competitive impacts with Dell,” Gelsinger said. Of the AWS partnership, he said VMware was “going to do innovations with Dell along with other hardware partners.”
Asked specifically about the Outposts hardware, Jassy said, “We’re not ready to release the specs yet on hardware. They’re going to be racks of hardware that’s the same hardware we run in our AWS regions, configured in various ways, and people will be able to customize to some degree.”