VMware Cloud on AWS gets updates focused on affordability

With a new instance type, new production cluster configuration, and a new multi-tenant cloud management service, VMware and AWS seek to make their jointly-engineered cloud offering more accessible for a wider range of customers and use cases.

VMware and Amazon Web Services on Wednesday announced a series of updates to VMware Cloud on AWS designed to make the jointly-engineered cloud offering more accessible to a broader range of customers and use cases. The announcements include a new Amazon EC2 instance that offers lower costs, a new cluster configuration that should lower the entry price for production environments, and a new multi-tenant cloud management service that should make the service more accessible to partners and smaller organizations.

"The theme is how do we broaden the range of customers and the range of environments we can support with VMC on AWS so every customer today that might be using vSphere in an on-prem environment can take advantage of VMware Cloud on AWS and in conjunction with that also take advantage of all the great AWS services available in this environment," Mark Lohmeyer, SVP and GM of VMware's cloud services business unit, said to reporters. 

About four-years after the launch of the jointly-engineered cloud service, VMware Cloud on AWS continues to grow, Lohmeyer noted. It's now available on 17 of AWS's 24 regions. As of June 2020, total VMs are up 3.5x year-over-year, while the total number of hosts is up 2.5x. More than 500 channel partners have achieved a VMware Cloud on AWS service competency, and there are more than 300 certified or validated technology solutions available to
VMware Cloud on AWS customers.

A survey last year showed what challenges customers faced using the services, zeroing in on cost management and network complexity issues, among other things. Nearly half of respondents surveyed said they weren't adopting VMware Cloud on AWS due to costs. 

The new offerings could alleviate that problem: Compared to previously-existing offerings, the new i3en.metal instance delivers 4x the raw storage capacity at roughly half the cost per GB of storage per host. 

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Based on 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Processors, they're designed for storage-dense workloads with high-performance requirements. The cost efficiency makes the new instances well-suited for data center migration and disaster recovery projects. 

Breaking down the mix of use cases for VMware Cloud on AWS, data center-wide migration accounts for 29 percent, while disaster recovery accounts for 21 percent -- making these the most popular use cases. 

The new instance comes with low latency NVMe SSD capacity for applications such as relational databases. 

Next, VMware and AWS are introducing a two-host production cluster configuration that lowers starting costs by 33 percent when compared to a 3-host cluster.

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"This configuration, we think, is particularly attractive for smaller, mid-market commercial customers, as well as our broader partner community -- our solution providers and [managed service providers] -- that often serve this customer base," Lohmeyer said. "It really makes it a much more attractive service for them to get started with in smaller environments."

Customers can easily expand and grow from the two-host cluster starting point with the automated service, he said. 

Meanwhile, VMware is bringing its Cloud Director Service to VMware Cloud on AWS. Cloud Director Service is a capability that many of VMware's managed service providers and cloud provider partners already take advantage of on top of their own VMware-based data centers, to provide multi-tenant services to their end customers. 

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"The real value here is that it enables our MSP and cloud provider partners to provide service to their customers in a multi-tenanted way that allows them to serve many more customers at a lower cost," Lohmeyer said. "This allows them to service more mid-market customers, more commercial customers. It also allows them to offer their own customized experience with their own branding... And accelerates time to market for our partners."

VMware and AWS also announced VMware Transit Connect, available in preview -- an expanded networking option that allows customers to establish a connectivity fabric across VMware Cloud on AWS SDDCs, Amazon Virtual Private Clouds (Amazon VPCs), and on-premise environments. Based on the AWS Transit Gateway service, it's a high-bandwidth, low-latency service designed for simplicity with automated provisioning and controls.