VMware on AWS


VMware and AWS had announced their cloud partnership on Thursday 13th Oct 2016. This is interesting because of a couple of reasons.

The following statement made by VMware in 2013 about Amazon.

“I find it really hard to believe that we cannot collectively beat a company that sells books,” said Carl Eschenbach about Amazon.

But now VMware and Amazon are becoming partners and offering a hybrid cloud using their own technologies. So what made VMware switch teams?

This collaboration will definitely add competition towards other cloud players like Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. Amazon Web Services had a clear advantage over anyone from this collaboration including VMware since AWS has datacenters in 38 Availability Zones across 14 different locations around the world.

I’m particularly looking forward to the response Microsoft will give to this offering, as it is a clear competitor for Azure Stack & Public. AWS, being the no.1 Cloud vendor in the world (bigger then Google and Microsoft together, according to Gartner) and VMware being the no.1 hypervisor in the datacenters (again Gartner) joining teams is a huge setback for Microsoft who offers similar solution.

VMware Cloud on Amazon AWS: 

VMware Cloud on Amazon AWS is a vSphere-based cloud service, based on the new offering VMware Cloud Foundation. This new service will bring enterprise-class Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) software to the AWS cloud world. The enterprise customers will be able to run any application across vSphere-based private, public and hybrid cloud environments. It will be delivered, sold and supported by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable service and customers will be able to leverage the global footprint and breadth of services from Amazon AWS.

So far, not many details are available (since it’s a tech preview that hasn’t even entered the beta stage yet), but we know this:

The service will integrate the capabilities compute, storage and network virtualization products (vSphere, Virtual SAN and NSX) along with vCenter, and optimize it to run on next-generation elastic, bare-metal, Amazon AWS infrastructure. This will enable customers to rapidly deploy secure, enterprise-grade AWS cloud-based resources that are operationally consistent with vSphere-based clouds. The result in a turnkey service that works with both on-premises private clouds and advanced AWS services seamlessly.

Key things to point out:

  • It’s not a nested environment, it’s VMware SDDC running on physical hardware hosted in Amazon data centers.
  • Your “old” management tools will be supported. Use VDP or Veeam for backup, or PowerCLI to manage your environment? You can continue to do so, even if the workloads run in AWS.
  • vMotion will be supported, making it possible to migrate workloads directly.
  • AWS provides the hardware, VMware provides the stack and supports it all.



This new offering is a native, fully managed VMware environment on the AWS Cloud that can be accessed on an hourly, on-demand basis or in subscription form. It includes the same core VMware technologies that customers run in their data Centers today including vSphere Hypervisor (ESX), Virtual SAN (vSAN), and the NSX network virtualization platform and is designed to provide a clean, seamless experience.

How does it work

  1. Create a VMware AWS account3
  2. Choose a region near to your On-premise datacenter, or for geo-redundancies, far away4
  3. Choose a size based on your requirement5
  4. Choose your payment method6please note it is possible to use a credit card, or VMware Credits
  5. Review and check-out7
  1. AWS VMware Cloud is beeing deployed8

Once the datacenter is ready, you will get option to launch vCenter by clicking “open vCenter”.

All you have to do is to link VMware and AWS, the on-premise vCenter with Amazon AWS vCenter (both network and vCenters), so that you can leverage of VMware features like vMotion and Storage vMotion. This can be done over a IP-SEC VPN in public internet or Direct Connect directly between on-premise and Amazon.

  1. How doest VMware Cloud on AWS look like



  1. On-premise VMware vSphere Datacenter11
  2. Assuming that On-premise datacenter is running out resources and you would like to migrate some of the workload to AWS VMware cloud.  Select the On-premise VM and migrate to VMware Cloud – AWS datacenter12
  1. Choose both compute and storage to migrate to AWS VMware Cloud13
  1. Select cluster from AWS VMware Cloud for compute14


12.select the AWS VMware Cloud datastore (Based on VSAN)


  1. select the VMware Cloud network



  1. Click Finish to initiate the VM migration from on premise datacenter to AWS VMware Cloud




  1. And the Virtual Machine VMotions to the Cloud



And that’s all to it.

DRS vs Elastic DRS: 

Another cool thing is that VMware offers distributed resource scheduler (DRS) to balance loads across the cluster.


VMware vSphere DRS will automatically move the VM’s within the ESX cluster to balance the load. If you do not have enough ESX hypervisors, VMware Cloud can leverage the Elastic Distributed Resource Scheduler to provision the additional bare-metal ESX hypervisor in AWS to balance the workloads.

AWS Services on VMware Cloud:

Due to this collaboration, there is an extra option to leverage the AWS services on VMware environment


For example: you will be able to use S3 storage, or an RDS database along your private cloud based on VMware as the product evolves.

My thoughts

What has been announced now is basically a private cloud operating in a public cloud, enabling you to create a hybrid cloud.

The thing which creates doubt in my mind is the price. The bare metal feature of AWS will be standardized in the beginning and because VMware’s vSAN only scales up, if you add an extra host (for example because of a lack of memory), you also get extra storage as well. That is also in the price, possibly making it very pricy. There is to my knowledge no pricing available for this particular bare metal service of AWS, but I’ve seen pricing up to $6,000 per host per month. That is some serious money.

Of course a custom price will be made especially for this VMWonAWS offering, this will probably done on AWS event Re:Invent, end November. Will they price it like S3, with low cost availability of resources that costs (a lot) more if used? It’s a move from CAPEX to OPEX, and might make larger scale infrastructures easier to consume for the people in accounting.

I have no inside information about what is going on here, but Elastic Scaling (or Elastic DRS) sounds like it might be really interesting. The ability to move workloads to AWS on demand, if you exhaust your local resources? It is possible.

Another question mark is about the usage of NSX in the VMware Cloud on AWS. Not all customers use NSX in their on-premise environment, but if you migrate from a dVS to a NSX enabled cloud-network, you can. The downside is that there is no live migration back from NSX to a non NSX cluster/dVS. So if you don’t have NSX on premise there is no way of live vMotion back at the moment (however you could do a cold vMotion)

However: the combination of these two, as the service offering will evolve, is going to be interesting.

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