VMware Cloud on AWS: The advantages, disadvantages, and use cases

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Last October, VMware and Amazon Web Services (AWS) shared plans for a strategic partnership through a new hybrid cloud service called VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC). This managed service by VMware allows businesses to run their application workloads across VMware-based private, public, and hybrid cloud environments, with optimized access to the full breadth of AWS services. It runs on next-generation bare metal AWS infrastructure powered by VMware Cloud Foundation, an SDDC platform that includes VMware vSphere, Virtual SAN (vSAN), NSX, and vCenter.

VMware is now rolling out VMC in certain parts of the U.S. Here are some of the advantages, disadvantages, and common use cases you should know to help determine if this offering is right for you.

3 reasons to choose VMC

Every managed cloud service has its strengths. Here are three that may make you want to choose VMC:

1. It eliminates the burden of infrastructure management and controls shadow IT

Because VMware assumes full responsibility for the provisioning, operations, and maintenance of the entire VMware Cloud stack, VMC frees up the IT resources previously dedicated to infrastructure management. It also helps control shadow IT spending by providing one central place for organizations to consume and manage cloud resources, as well as one central bill for the VMware software and AWS cloud infrastructure.

2. It enables organizations to leverage existing skills, tools, and processes

VMC allows companies to extend their existing on-premises vSphere environments to a VMware SDDC running in AWS. VMC customers receive the architecture, capabilities, and operational experience they’re already familiar with across their private and public cloud environments, which can improve productivity and reduce costs.

3. It promotes the utilization of native AWS services

Without having to purchase custom hardware, rewrite applications, or modify their operating model, customers can preserve existing investments while taking advantage of AWS’s advanced capabilities, scale, and global footprint. VMC adopters can utilize popular AWS services such as security, compute, storage, databases, application services, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), and more.

3 reasons VMC might not work for you

Despite its benefits, VMC may not be the right fit for everyone. Here are a few reasons you may want to pass on it:

1. Limited availability and consumption models

Although there are plans to expand to regions worldwide in 2018, VMC is presently available only in the AWS US West (Oregon) region. It’s currently consumed on demand on an hourly basis, although VMware plans to release one-year and three-year subscription options in the future. For now, the limited options in location and plans may mean this isn’t the right choice for you.

2. Limited VMware administrative control

Each VMC customer must have a VMC SDDC account as well as a general AWS account, and the two accounts must be linked for the service to work. Each account has its very own VPC, and the VMware Cloud VPC contains a management and compute resource pool. Within the management resource pool, VMware has complete administrative control over the management and infrastructure components. The client is limited to managing workload VMs in the compute resource pool. There are no administrative limitations for the AWS account.

3. Limited feature set

The capabilities of VMC are promising, but its feature set is limited. It only supports one AWS Availability Zone (AZ) and the AWS I3 instance type. NSX is available in simplified mode, which supports basic network and security services. This means it does not currently support advanced features such as distributed firewalls, load balancers, third-party service insertion, or the cross vCenter functionality. There are also some limitations around vMotion, HA, DRS, and vSAN. VMware is expected to address these limitations in a future release, but the current limitations may factor into your decision.

3 ways you can use VMC

Agility is one of the main drivers for private, hybrid, and public cloud adoption. There are many ways to leverage a hybrid cloud environment, VMC included. Here are some of the most common reasons you might want to use VMC:

1. Maintain and expand

VMC is perfect for private cloud customers that wish to expand to the public cloud for their backup and disaster recovery needs. It’s also a compelling option for clients seeking regional capacity so they can enter new markets.

2. Consolidate and migrate

VMC can help businesses reduce their datacenter footprint or get out of their own datacenter entirely. It’s also an attractive landing spot for organizations that want to migrate application workloads that may or may not be cloud ready.

3. Increase workload flexibility

Companies that want their private cloud and public cloud to be treated as equal peers should consider VMC. It can ease bidirectional portability and is excellent for moving development and testing workloads to production or for cyclical capacity.

Ready to adopt VMware Cloud on AWS?

VMware announced initial availability of VMC at VMworld this summer. While its original feature set is limited, VMware is committed to bolstering the service by introducing updates every 90 days. Even in its nascence, VMC is a strong option for companies heavily invested in the VMware platform looking to adopt the public cloud. Contact your SHI account executive to learn more about how you can benefit from VMC.