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New details emerge about AWS Outposts as launch nears

AWS Outposts will ship later this year. In advance of that launch, AWS has given customers a sense of what they can expect from the first release of the private, on-premises version of its public cloud infrastructure.

AWS has provided more details about Outposts, the on-premises version of its IaaS cloud, in advance of its expected release late this year.

While AWS made Outposts a centerpiece of its re:Invent conference in December, and a fair amount of public information has been available, the company has now revealed which aspects and services of its public IaaS will ship in version 1 of Outposts.

AWS Outposts is aimed at customers who want the experience of running workloads on AWS inside their own data centers, for reasons such as latency and regulatory requirements.

It consists of server racks loaded with AWS software and is a fully managed offering, installed, operated and updated by AWS staff. Outpost machines will be continuously connected to a local AWS public cloud region.

Since re:Invent, AWS has worked with customers to figure out what types of services should be delivered in the first version of AWS Outposts. They will include several EC2 instance types -- C5, M5, i3en and G4 -- as well as Elastic Block Storage, AWS said in a blog post.

The general availability release of AWS Outposts will also support Amazon Elastic Container Service and Elastic Kubernetes Service, Elastic MapReduce and Amazon Relational Database Service, according to the blog. Subsequent additions will include the Amazon SageMaker machine learning platform, AWS said.

I have some clients [from whom] you cannot pry the data center from their cold dead hands.
Ryan MarshDevOps coach, TheStack.io

On paper, AWS Outposts are supposed to tie into any AWS public cloud service without issues. AWS also plans to port new public cloud capabilities to Outposts on a continuous basis, according to the blog.

Initial prospects for Outposts include companies in manufacturing, healthcare, telecom and financial services. A common use case concerns applications that require latency in the signal-digit millisecond range, AWS said.

Outposts follows cloud industry trend

AWS' upcoming launch of Outposts ties into a trend where, for once, it is a laggard and not a pace-setter. Microsoft has already offered Azure Stack, Oracle has Exadata Cloud at Customer, IBM pushes Cloud Private, and Google moved into hybrid and on-premises scenarios with Anthos.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

The crucial element of Outposts is the system's close similarity to AWS' public cloud infrastructure, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif. IT decision-makers who want to develop on top of an Outpost shouldn't have to look too closely at the fine print, which would slow them down, Mueller added.

Outposts should appeal to certain customers, said Ryan Marsh, a serverless expert and DevOps coach with TheStack.io in Houston.

Ryan MarshRyan Marsh

"The idea of doing serverless in an AWS Outpost is very enticing to me," Marsh said. "I have some clients [from whom] you cannot pry the data center from their cold dead hands. There are, as [AWS mentions], some clients with obvious low-latency needs."

Also, AWS has built and managed so many data centers that it's likely had the ability to ship something like Outposts for a while, Marsh added. "It just needed to be productized, but not so soon that it would have cannibalized the cloud biz," he said.

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