​AWS Outposts brings AWS cloud hardware on-premises

The new offering expands the partnership AWS has with VMware.

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After announcing a partnership with VMware two years ago, and unveiling VMware Cloud on AWS earlier this year, Amazon Web Services will be launching its own datacentre hardware, AWS Outposts.

AWS Outposts essentially brings AWS cloud hardware on-premises.

AWS Outposts comprises configurable compute, storage racks, and is fully managed, which will allow customers to run compute and storage on-premises and connect to the rest of AWS's cloud.

CEO Andy Jassy said AWS Outposts provides a way to run AWS infrastructure on premises for a "truly consistent" hybrid experience.

It's available in two options, with the first through the VMware Cloud on AWS and the second as AWS native.

Option 1: For customers who 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.

The companies said this delivers the VMware Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) compute, storage, and networking infrastructure on-premises, and is managed as a Service from the same console as VMware Cloud on AWS.

Option 2: For customers who prefer the same exact APIs and control plane they're used to running in AWS's cloud, but on-premises, they can use the AWS native variant of AWS Outposts.

"Customers want to work on-premises and in the cloud the exact same way," Jassy said.

Joining Jassy on stage during his keynote at re:Invent on Wednesday, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said AWS Outposts was another example of where the two technology behemoths have joined forces to innovate.

"We're excited," Gelsinger said. "We're committed to this partnership and we're seeing it expand."

Gelsinger also announced new capabilities -- bringing many of VMware's technologies to AWS -- that will complement AWS Outposts such as VMware Cloud Foundation for EC2.

"These 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, like NSX, VMware AppDefense, and VMware vRealize Automation," the companies explained in a statement.

"Customers are telling us that they don't want a hybrid experience that attempts to recreate 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," Jassy added.

"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."

In a post-keynote press briefing, the SVP and GM of VMware's cloud platform business, Mark Lohmeyer, described the AWS Outposts effort as datacentre infrastructure delivered as a service, "bringing all of the benefits that exist in VMware Cloud on AWS, but now to our customers in their own datacentres."

Neither VMware nor AWS have disclosed how the service will be sold to customers, but Lohmeyer pointed to its existing model with VMware Cloud on AWS as a likely scenario.

"We haven't announced or shared all of the details on the sales and go-to-market model," Lohmeyer said. "I can tell you that just like with VMware Cloud on AWS, we enabled our partner ecosystem to participate in that. We will of course enable that same ability for them to engage with this solution."

Speaking with media following his keynote in Las Vegas, Jassy was asked if the roadmap for Outposts included every product and service that AWS offers through the cloud.

"I think it remains to be seen how many tools or services we will have in Outposts or not," he said in response.

"Our initial goal is not to re-create all of AWS in Outposts -- they're kind of different delivery models ... but there are some really basic components that we're hearing consistently that are wanted on-premises."

Gelsinger also joined Jassy in the post-keynote press event, and was also questioned over whether or not Outposts was eating into VMware's on-premise business.

"I want customers to use as much as VMware as possible," he said. "So we'll of course be favouring the full VMware cloud option ... but we fully recognise customers want choice."

Jassy offered a bit more detail around how customers can get their hands on AWS Outposts.

"It will be a managed service, it will be delivered -- we will deliver the racks -- they will have hardware on it, it will have software on it," Jassy said

"It will be the same partners that we're using in AWS Regions, we will deliver the racks, we will install the racks ... we will prepare and maintain the racks."

Disclosure: Asha McLean travelled to AWS re:Invent as a guest of AWS

Natalie Gagliordi contributed to this report.

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