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VMware Cloud on AWS – Industry Snapshot

Published March 24th, 2017. John Webster, Sr. Analyst with Evaluator Group, discusses VMware's SDDC suite that has been optimized to run within AWS public cloud. Download the free report now!

VMware Cloud on AWS—an Update and Closer Look

VMware Cloud on AWS, announced in October of last year, is VMware’s Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) suite that has been optimized to run within the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud, leveraging the global footprint and breadth of cloud computing services from AWS. It enables VMware users to deploy native VMware environments on AWS. In addition, it can be bridged to an on-premises VMware environment to form a highly functional and extendable cloud without requiring the customer to go through a major transformational exercise. Like Microsoft Azure Stack, VMware Cloud on AWS is currently in its Technology Preview phase prior to GA which is expected to be mid-2017.

At a Glance

VMware Cloud on AWS takes the VMware computing environment and optimizes it to run on elastic, bare metal AWS infrastructure without having to use nested virtualization. VMware environments will co-exist AWS cloud-based services, but will achieve operational consistency by using the same vCenter UIs, APIs and CLIs. Customers can create hybrid cloud computing environments via the integration of VMware’s compute, storage, and network virtualization products (vSphere, vSAN, and NSX), along with vCenter management that runs across on-premises and AWS global regions.

VMware Cloud on AWS deepens VMware’s partnership with AWS while pushing forward several VMware cloud computing objectives:

  • Enable an entire VMware environment on a public cloud
  • Instantiate a common control plane across on-premises and public cloud-based VMWare environments to manage a hybrid cloud as a single entity via vCenter
  • Connect the VMware hybrid cloud to underlying public cloud services
  • Use common VMware facilities to manage the hybrid cloud. Example:
    • vMotion moves applications to the VMware public cloud without re-platforming and without disruption and
    • An “elastic” version of Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) balances workloads within the public cloud environment
  • Integrate applications running in the VMware cloud with those running in other public cloud instances (AWS EC2 for example).

VM compatibility assures workload portability between the on-premises and the VMware Cloud on AWS instances. Therefore, applications currently running on VMware will be supported across vSphere-based private, public and hybrid cloud environments. The service includes infrastructure failure recovery at the AWS site by VMware as well as software patching, updating and upgrading during the lifecycle of the service.

VMware Cloud on AWS will be delivered, sold and supported by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable turnkey service and all software components will be fully certified and supported by VMware.


VMware Cloud on AWS is a service offering based on a version of VMware Cloud Foundation optimized to run directly on AWS dedicated (i.e. not shared) bare metal infrastructure. As such, AWS presents a natively integrated stack of VMware resources—including vSphere, vSAN and NSX—to AWS users, but one that also leverages the underlying security, networking and hardware features that are indigenous to AWS’ bare metal infrastructure. Thus, the need to use nested virtualization is avoided. VMware VMs running on AWS can connect directly with and consume AWS-native services (database, storage, analytics, mobile, IoT, etc.) that are adjacently available. However, what the user winds up with is a native VMware environment running in a public cloud as opposed to a native cloud computing environment. This gives administrators the ability to essentially extend their private VMware environments to AWS regional data centers. The service supports direct connections and site-to-site VPNs.

Upon GA in mid-2017, the service will deliver a fully functional, VMware-based hybrid cloud computing environment. For example, administrators can use vSphere vMotion to move running virtual machines from on-premises to the AWS cloud without downtime. VMware’s Distributed Resources Scheduler (DRS) is also supported, but in this case, server capacity can be added or removed on-demand. VMs retain network identity and connections. The service offers full VM compatibility and workload portability without modifications to an application. On the AWS side, the underlying infrastructure is automatically provisioned.

This scalable, on-demand service will be fully managed and operated by VMware. It will be delivered, sold and supported by VMware as well. Customers have the option of selecting on-demand, hourly billing, or one- and three-year subscriptions. VMware will offer loyalty programs to allow customers to leverage existing VMware licenses.

Evaluator Group Comments

As enterprise IT pushes cloud computing strategies forward, VMware environments will become an increasingly important focal point. It is now clear that VMware has decided not to lead with its own public cloud (vCloud Air) in its effort to bring to market an all-VMware hybrid cloud. Indeed, why compete with AWS on this front? Rather, what VMware has chosen to do is essentially carve out physical infrastructure within an AWS regional data center as the place to build the off-premises end to their hybrid cloud.

From the standpoint of a developer, integrating an existing VMware environment with VMware Cloud on AWS does not a native hybrid cloud make. However, it does create a natively extendable VMware cloud environment from the standpoint of a VMware administrator. As proof of this point, an administrator can use vMotion to move an application to an AWS site without modification and without downtime. Once there, it has direct access to AWS services and applications running on these services. Additional advantages include support for DRS to automate server capacity expansion/contraction on demand and elimination of the need to manage and assure the availability of the additional capacity. Administrators will also have the ability to leverage what is called AWS’ “next-generation, elastic bare-metal infrastructure.” However, details have yet to be released on what services this next-generation infrastructure actually offers to users.

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