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VMware cloud services tidy up AWS migration path

VMware Cloud on AWS has improved migrations, cost controls and availability, as VMware pitches customers on the value of hosting vSphere-based workloads on the public cloud.

The latest set of VMware cloud services for AWS underscores the hypervisor vendor's resolve to move customers to the public cloud.

VMware continues to bolster its VMware Cloud on AWS offering, through which customers extend their on-premises vSphere-based workloads to Amazon's public cloud. The latest updates ease the transition to AWS, and tools for high availability and automation highlight the benefits of leaving behind private data centers.

VMware's commitment to make regular updates to the service represents a shift for the company, which has struggled to keep pace with the major cloud vendors. It added a second U.S. region in November 2017, as well as features for disaster recovery and operation at scale. This third update to the product continues on that same path, with an EU region in London and plans to add regions in Germany and Asia later this year.

High availability, automation enhance VMware cloud services on AWS

Among the latest updates, Stretched Clusters extend correlated resources across multiple AWS availability zones within a region. This can improve availability and guard against a slowdown or outage in a particular region, as well as reduce the amount of work needed to architect an application for high availability.

Customers can now use AWS CloudFormation and HashiCorp Terraform to automate the provisioning of software-defined stacks through the VMware-run service, and vMotion capabilities migrate workloads between private data centers and AWS without downtime, or between hosts on different clusters on AWS. Other updates include the extension of vSAN compression and deduplication tools to AWS to reduce storage costs, as well as the availability of VMware Horizon -- the remote desktop service -- on VMware Cloud on AWS.

Dave Bartoletti, analyst, ForresterDave Bartoletti

VMware failed with its own public cloud before it shifted its strategy to serve as a conduit for other public clouds. This latest round of updates shows VMware intends to not only make public cloud an option, but it plans to proactively aid customers who make that shift and provide them with tools they won't find in-house, such as resources extended across a globally distributed network, said Dave Bartoletti, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"Just getting there is step one," he said. "[VMware] is saying, 'We won't just get you there; we want to help you leverage the power of the cloud when you get there.'"

The addition of the EU region in London, as well as the vSAN deduplication and compression, along with CloudFormation and Hashicorp integration are available now. The Stretched Clusters and vMotion capabilities are in preview.

In addition to its AWS-housed stack, other updated VMware cloud services include SaaS tools for cloud management on premises and in the public cloud. VMware Hybrid Cloud Extension connects private clouds with AWS and IBM Cloud with the need to change the application, while other improvements address log management and cost assessments for migrating workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS.

Baby steps with VMware Cloud on AWS

VMware said there is considerable interest among customers for VMware Cloud on AWS, with prominent early adopters including Sysco and Moody's. But sales may not match the hype just yet. VMware has not disclosed sales figures for the product, which has been available for six months, but it remains a "small and not material" part of the business, said CEO Pat Gelsinger during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call last week.

VMware has also pitched the services for various scenarios, such disaster recovery, migration, footprint expansion, data center extension, and test and development. But, in November, VMware executives told SearchAWS that the vast majority of uses at this point are for disaster recovery.

There are a lot of VMware workloads, and a lot of companies are looking for the quickest and least-risky way to move it onto a similar platform.
Gary Chenanalyst, IDC

Still, IDC and Forrester both reported increased interest among clients. Like most new IT products, customers need time to be sure the technology meets their requirements, said Gary Chen, an IDC analyst. Chen said he expects an initial wave of adoption of VMware cloud services in six months, but even then the adoption will probably start small.

"It hasn't been on the market that long, but the reality is there are a lot of VMware workloads, and a lot of companies are looking for the quickest and least-risky way to move it onto a similar platform," he said.

That's why the migration piece of this update is so important. Between the templates and the vMotion capabilities, this should address one of the biggest inhibitors to adoption, Chen said. He said he also expects to see more in this area in future releases and added that he will be interested to see how VMware integrates technology from CloudVelox, a cloud migration company that VMware said it plans to acquire.

What this update doesn't fully address is interoperability with native AWS tools. There are improved integrations between NSX and AWS' internal networking, but analysts caution that those types of features are likely part of the long-term plan for the service. For now, the goal is to get existing workloads to the public cloud.

"That [native integration] will come later," Bartoletti said. "What's most important now is VMware is really encouraging people to try this migration, which is a real shift in focus."

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