VMware Cloud on AWS – A Bridge Between Private and Public Cloud

What are Hybrid Clouds?

In an IT world realigning around the Cloud, hybrid infrastructures or “Hybrid Clouds” are a way for companies to tap into the potential of both private and public infrastructures and get the best of both worlds – security, scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. They allow companies to share the computing workload of their data centres with public Clouds, run by a handful of big infrastructure corporations, such as Amazon (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft (Azure), Google (Google Cloud Platform), IBM (IBM Cloud) and others. Hybrid infrastructures are a cost-effective, highly available way for organisations to extend their data centres’ capacity, migrate data and applications to the Cloud and closer to customers, make use of new Cloud-native capabilities and create backups and disaster recovery solutions. A simple way to view hybrid computing is as having your company’s data reside both in the Cloud and on premise.

Moving workloads between different clouds

Effectively moving workloads between different clouds is a notoriously tedious and slow process. It involves accounting for virtual machines’ networking and storage configurations with the associated security policies, while converting them from one format to another. And this is just one of many challenges. Moving workloads from public back to the private Cloud is just as difficult considering management dependencies and proprietary APIs.

VMware and AWS

VMware software is entrenched in the data centers of enterprise customers (government and big companies) around the world. Enterprises that build and operate private clouds popularly use VMware’s cloud infrastructure software suite, with its server virtualization software practically ubiquitous. But with companies wanting to leverage the scale and capabilities of the Amazon public cloud, VMware realised the benefit of building a bridge to AWS. After the announcement of a partnership in 2016, with the VMware and AWS architectures being as different from each other as they are, it took more than a year to launch a solution and another six months (until VMworld 2018) for it to be fully globalised.

To launch VMware on Amazon’s cloud infrastructure AWS engineers had to change how they actually architect their data center – a massive effort, necessary to make sure that the Amazon Cloud infrastructure will be able to support the arguably best-in-class hypervisor, the VMware ESX hypervisor. To virtualise their infrastructure, Amazon’s traditionally used the open source Xen hypervisor, incompatible with VMware’s. Over the last year and a half, the company has been transitioning to a new custom distribution of KVM – a different open source hypervisor, with which compatibility won’t be an issue. In addition, practically everything in the AWS architecture has had to be modified as well – network, physical-server provisioning, security, etc.

VMware-AWS Hybrid Cloud

The basic premise is that the VMware-operated AWS-based service allows organisations who have on-site vSphere private infrastructures to migrate and extend them to the AWS Cloud (running on Amazon EC2 bare metal infrastructure), using the same software and methods to manage them. VMware-based workloads can now successfully be run on the AWS Cloud with applications deployed and managed across on-premise and public environments with guaranteed scalability, security and cost-effectiveness. Companies can take a hybrid approach to cloud adoption, consolidating and extending the capacities of their data centers and additionally modernising, simplifying and optimising their disaster recovery solutions.

AWS infrastructure and platform capabilities (Amazon S3, AWS Lambda, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon RDS, etc.) can be natively integrated, which will allow organisations to quickly and easily innovate their enterprise applications. What they need to be mindful of, however, when selecting which capabilities to use, is that not all of them are available on the VMware stack. This could become an issue, should they ever decide to migrate their workloads from public cloud back to private.

Organisations can also simplify their Hybrid IT operations with VMware Cloud on AWS and leverage the power, speed and scale of the AWS cloud infrastructure to enhance their competitiveness and pace of innovation. They can use the same VMware Cloud Foundation technologies (NSX, vSAN, vSphere, vCenter Server) on the AWS Cloud without any purchase of new custom hardware, modification of operating models or applications being necessary. Workload portability and VM compatibility is automatically provisioned.

All AWS’ services, including databases, analytics, IoT, compute, security, deployments, mobile, application services, etc. can be leveraged with VMware Cloud on AWS with a promise of secure, predictable, low-latency connectivity.