Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Sunday, September 24, 2023

AWS, VMware Scale the Hybrid Cloud 

The hybrid cloud market just got far more competitive with an alliance between the leading public cloud vendor and an entrenched datacenter supplier. Along with preserving existing datacenter investments, the alliance also is seen as targeting big data workloads while raising new questions about cloud security.

The partnership between Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN) and datacenter stalwart VMware (NYSE: VMW) unveiled amidst much speculation on Thursday (Oct. 13) brings a new level of scale to hybrid cloud deployments. The rivals-turned-partners said their new hybrid cloud service, "VMware Cloud on AWS," would allow customers to preserve applications and other workloads across VMware's private, public and hybrid clouds running on its vSphere server virtualization platform.

Observers also noted that the partnership gives AWS a foothold in the datacenter while VMware gains a hybrid cloud play by joining the forces with the leading public cloud service provider. Officials from both companies stressed the alliance delivers flexibility while preserving existing datacenter investments.

Both AWS Chief Andy Jassy and VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger emphasized that the new AWS-VMware Cloud would allow current customers to run existing applications in emerging software-defined datacenters with much greater scale. "This new service will make it easier for customers to preserve their investment in existing applications and processes while taking advantage of the global footprint, advanced capabilities and scale of the AWS public cloud," Gelsinger said in a statement.

Noting that many enterprises already run virtualized servers, storage and networking in their datacenters, Jassy added that the AWS-VMware hybrid cloud would preserve current investments in VMware tools while eliminating the need to rewrite applications or purchase custom hardware.

Meanwhile, observers noted that the partnership also addresses the difficulty of creating hybrid applications that can run on both VMware datacenter infrastructure and the AWS public cloud.

Some, including Wikibon analyst George Gilbert, think the key impact of the AWS-VMware hybrid cloud will be big data workloads.

Gilbert offered a range scenarios for how the new hybrid cloud offering would be rolled out, adding: "The upshot of all the scenarios is that big data professionals are finally going to have a more meaningful coexistence or a migration path from on-premises 'private clouds' to the dominant and more fully automated public cloud run by AWS."

As hybrid cloud deployments gain momentum, largely because they are seen as offering cloud flexibility along with private datacenter peace of mind, cloud security specialists also see an opportunity in the mega-alliance.

"This is a radical shift for VMware, given their history with AWS," noted Zohar Alon, CEO of cloud security specialist Dome9. "But it is not entirely surprising given the intensifying push by businesses to go cloud-first for mission-critical services, applications and infrastructure. Nobody wants to miss the boat on this opportunity, VMware included."

Alon also warned that IT administrators won't be able to use the same security tools and controls in a hybrid cloud that were used in private datacenters. What is needed, he argued, is a "new network-centric approach to security."

The hybrid cloud partners said VMware Cloud on AWS would be available in mid-2017 and is supported by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable service. Pricing won't be available until next year.


About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).