AWS RDS on Outposts goes GA

AWS is now offering a fully vendor-managed cloud database service that can run inside the customer's data center.

Roughly six months after AWS's Outposts hybrid cloud platform outposts hit general release, RDS databases, including MySQL and PostgreSQL are now generally available on it. That makes RDS on Outposts one of the first vendor-managed Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) offerings that can run inside the customer's data center. For the record, Oracle is the only other database provider to have a similar offering, with Exadata Cloud at Customer.

On initial release, RDS on AWS Outposts will support MySQL 8.0.17 and PostgreSQL 12.2.


AWS Outposts unit

Credit: AWS

AWS Outposts is a hybrid cloud platform that takes a very familiar form: the classic turnkey system, where the vendor provides bundled hardware and software and manages the provisioning, database setup, patching, and backups. In essence, it is a piece of the AWS cloud that runs inside the customer's data center. It operates tethered, where management and setup tools such as AWS CloudFormation, CloudWatch, CloudTrail, Elastic Beanstalk, and others are operated in a connection with an AWS availability zone (A) within a nearby AWS region. The current release adds support of a couple Amazon RDS database services to this platform.

The use case for the initial release is for customers who want a fully-managed cloud vendor database service, but also have strict low latency requirements dictating that the production database run on-premises or near their premises. This would be applicable to use cases such as databases that are used for running manufacturing plants, working with real-time IoT data, or other localized operations.

But for now, Outposts won't yet support a couple other potential use cases for hybrid cloud: the ability to keep all data local, or the ability to replicate or manage data across multiple regions as a high availability/disaster recovery strategy. Currently, all data backup and restore operations are run on the AZ to which the outposts system is tethered, and for now, you can't operate a couple (or more) AWS Outpost systems in tandem that are connected to different AWS regions.

We expect that support of purely local data operation and multi-region operations (where data would replicate between the different outposts units) will come later. In the meantime, make sure your data compliance requirements allow you to store (fully encrypted) backups in the public cloud. And for now, Outposts is limited to support of open-source MySQL and PostgreSQL. We suspect that some of the other RDS databases might eventually follow.

The significance of hybrid cloud is that it offers the simplicity of the cloud control plane inside a customer's data center. But as we found in our recent research, hybrid cloud is still a very loose concept. For our purposes, we define hybrid cloud as a superset of private and public clouds that (1) supports deployment on-premises with (2) some form of converged control that (3) is disconnected or connected to a public cloud.

But that leaves you with a wide variety of hybrid offerings that adhere loosely to those principles. At one end of the spectrum, they take the form of classic turnkey bundles run by the vendors, such as AWS Outposts or Oracle Exadata Cloud at Customer. There are also hybrid offerings that consist of OEM bundles like Microsoft Azure Stack Hub, or pure software-defined cloud virtualization frameworks that the customer installs, configures, and operates on commodity hardware, such as IBM Red Hat OpenShift or Google Cloud Anthos – and just about anything in between.

And in fact, AWS's hybrid portfolio is varied. RDS on Outposts is the version of the platform that runs on the AWS cloud control plane. There is another edition of Outposts, VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts that is currently in beta. It will use the VMware control plane in place of AWS's and operates as the hybrid counterpart to the company's existing Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) that currently runs on the AWS public cloud. This is targeted at lift and shift of VMware workloads, in the traditional vSphere virtualization environment, that VMware manages on the AWS public cloud. And then there is the ultimate outlier, Amazon RDS on VMware, which also features RDS for MySQL and PostgreSQL databases as well as SQL Server, and runs in VMware on the customer's premises, but on commodity (not AWS) hardware.

Back to our originally scheduled program, Amazon RDS on Outposts, along with Oracle Exadata Cloud at Customer, are for now the only games in town if you want a vendor to fully manage the database in your data center in the same way it would operate in the public cloud. We don't think they will be the last.