Enterprise customers with VMware installations in their datacenters can now quickly shift workloads into AWS using VMware Cloud. Almost a year after the initial announcement, this long-anticipated offering is now a reality and ready for mainstream consumption.
Based on VMware vSphere, with optimized access to AWS services, the offering is delivered, sold, and supported by VMware as an on-demand service with all the hardware scalability benefits of AWS bare metal infrastructure beneath it.
So, what’s cool about the offering?
- As a SaaS offering, VMware Cloud runs as its own stack including NSX, vSAN, and vSphere. Unless accessing other AWS services, customers won’t even realize they are running on AWS as a virtual extension of their own data center.
- Full access to all AWS native services through the public API endpoints, without additional networking charges.
- Flexibility to shift workloads between the data center and AWS cloud.
- The ability to leverage existing VMware licenses to secure pricing discounts (maximum 25% off list depending on license type.)
What stinks about it?
- The minimum host configuration requirement is 4 hosts per cluster. On demand pricing of $8.3681 per hour per host would require a minimum consolidation ratio of 3.9 to reach potential native cloud pricing of $0.06 per comparable instance (bandwidth charges not included.)
- 50% savings over the above host pricing can be obtained by committing to 3 years of reserved hosts. Unfortunately, just like reserved native cloud instances, you are charged for every hour of the commitment regardless of whether the instances are running or not.
- Workload mobility is currently limited to only cold migration to transfer workloads to the cloud Software Defined Data Center, SDDC. (Cross-cloud vSphere vMotion migration is on the product roadmap, but no date commitments have been provided.)
- To use vCenter Hybrid Linked Mode you will need to be running vSphere 6.5d or later; You can however do cold migrations of the VMs without it.
Don’t expect public cloud instance pricing, but VMware has eliminated any excuses for most enterprise customers to start the public cloud transition, if only for Dev/Test workloads. Taking advantage this PaaS/SaaS offering will help reduce the internal IT team’s workload to support these VMs.
With full access to native AWS services, using VMware Cloud as a foundation, your Application teams can begin to leverage cloud services such as Lambda, RDS, DynamoDB and Redshift without having to do cloud transformation migration of the core application.
It’s clear that the VMware Cloud offering can jumpstart your enterprise hybrid cloud efforts, but just like with native cloud services, the tendency to overprovision, misconfigure, and abandon running resources is real and you must manage these actions to ensure a secure cloud environment as well as managing runaway cost. This starts with a well implemented tagging strategy, in combination with continuous monitoring, and an action driven compliance engine.
Key areas to consider and control are:
- Policy automation to ensure compliance with security policy controls and asset configurations
- Operational automation tied to storage, CPU and memory allocation of virtual instances.
- Resource cost management through downsizing over-provisioned instances, stopping dev/test instances off-cycle, and eliminating stranded resources such as orphaned or underutilized hypervisors
Whether your enterprise cloud efforts are focused on the native consumption of public resources, establishing a hybrid cloud footprint both on premise and off, or you are just starting out by migrating workloads to the new VMware Cloud on AWS platform, having third party governance and automation platform is a cornerstone feature to drive consistent policy adoption, ensure security compliance, and optimize efficient consumption of resources.
Thomas Martin is a former CIO, and technology leader of the General Electric Company. Prior to leaving GE, Thomas was the Executive Vice President of Application Transformation tasked with moving 9000 legacy workloads to public and private cloud infrastructure. He has been a leading evaluator, adopter, and advocate of innovative tools and emerging technology that drive effective operation of cloud infrastructure at scale.