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VMware adds managed storage service for VMs on AWS

Cloud Flex Storage by VMware provides to customers of VMware Cloud on AWS a managed storage service with cloud console provisioning.

VMware's lineup of cloud products and services now includes its own managed storage service on AWS, with the company signaling support for more hyperscalers in the months ahead.

VMware Cloud Flex Storage is now generally available for VMware Cloud on AWS following its unveiling at the VMware Explore conference in 2022. The managed service is built on a file system using AWS S3 object storage and Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), enabling customers to purchase additional capacity and compute separately through the VMware Cloud Services Console.

"The target customer is [those who] are already using VMware on premises," said Dave Raffo, analyst at Evaluator Group.

He said VMware is attempting to grow the adoption of its cloud-native products, such as the Kubernetes-powered VMware Tanzu, and that providing on-premises customers applications they're familiar with, such as VMware's file system, as well as easing adoption by offloading management to VMware could make for a more alluring on-ramp.

First-party buckets

VMware Cloud Flex Storage uses AWS S3 for holding data and EC2 compute instances on NVMe for caching so that customers can choose specific performance or cost parameters for applications running on VMware Cloud on AWS.

The VMware Cloud includes the vCenter suite of applications and VMware architecture running natively on AWS. Cloud Flex Storage connects to the cloud version of vSAN, VMware's storage virtualization software for creating hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) for VMs running on its server virtualization application, vSphere. Cloud Flex Storage customers can expand storage without purchasing and installing additional HCI nodes.

Other features include built-in data services such as at-rest encryption, data compression and deduplication. Pricing is based on per-GB consumption with a minimum capacity buy required.

Hyperscaler converged infrastructure

The HCI capabilities of the vCloud product lineup provide HCI capabilities akin to Nutanix Cloud Infrastructure, a direct competitor with VMware's catalog also offering native HCI on AWS. Other cloud HCI products for alternative clouds include Microsoft's own Azure Stack HCI or the open source Kernel-based Virtual Machine.

The service competes with another AWS native storage service for VMware, Amazon FSx for NetApp OnTap with VMware Cloud on AWS. That service also enables NetApp storage to support VMs running in the VMware Cloud on AWS as a managed service.

In a blog post, the company said it plans to support additional clouds in the future and enable managed storage in a multi-cloud environment.

The product is based on the VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery file service, which uses a similar separation of storage capacity and performance. The DR technology was previously developed by Datrium, a disaster-recovery-as-a-service vendor acquired by VMware in 2020 that was founded by former VMware engineers.

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living on the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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