Tag Archives: IaaS

AWS Outposts brings hybrid cloud support — but only for Amazon

LAS VEGAS — AWS controls nearly half of the public IaaS market today, and based on the company’s rules against use of the term ‘multi-cloud,’ would be happy to have it all, even as rivals Microsoft and Google make incremental gains and more customers adopt multi-cloud strategies.

That’s the key takeaway from the start of this year’s massive re:Invent conference here this week, which was marked by the release of AWS Outposts for hybrid clouds and a lengthy keynote from AWS CEO Andy Jassy that began with a tongue-in-cheek invite to AWS’ big tent in the cloud.

“You have to decide what you’re going to bring,” Jassy said of customers who want to move workloads into the public cloud. “It’s a little bit like moving from a home,” he added, as a projected slide comically depicted moving boxes affixed with logos for rival vendors such as Oracle and IBM sitting on a driveway.

“It turns out when companies are making this big transformation, what we see is that all bets are off,” Jassy said. “They reconsider everything.”

For several years now, AWS has used re:Invent as a showcase for large customers in highly regulated industries that have made substantial, if not complete, migrations to its platform. One such company is Goldman Sachs, which has worked with AWS on several projects, including Marcus, a digital banking service for consumers. A transaction banking service that helps companies manage their cash in a cloud-native stack on AWS is coming next year, said Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon, who appeared during Jassy’s talk. Goldman is also moving its Marquee market intelligence platform into production on AWS.

Along with showcasing enthusiastic customers like Goldman Sachs, Jassy took a series of shots at the competition, some veiled and others overt.

“Every industry has lots of companies with mainframes, but everyone wants to move off of them,” he claimed. The same goes for databases, he added. Customers are trying to move away from Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server due to factors such as expense and lock-in, he said. Jassy didn’t mention that similar accusations have been lodged at AWS’ native database services.

Jassy repeatedly took aim at Microsoft, which has the second most popular cloud platform after AWS, albeit with a significant lag. “People don’t want to pay the tax anymore for Windows,” he said.

But it isn’t as if AWS would actually shun Microsoft technology, since it has long been a host for many Windows Server workloads. In fact, it wants as much as it can get. This week, AWS introduced a new bring-your-own-license program for Windows Server and SQL Server designed to make it easier for customers to run those licenses on AWS, versus Azure.

AWS pushes hybrid cloud, but rejects multi-cloud

One of the more prominent, although long-expected, updates this week is the general availability of AWS Outposts. These specialized server racks provided by AWS reside in customers’ own data centers, in order to comply with regulations or meet low-latency needs. They are loaded with a range of AWS software, are fully managed by AWS and maintain continuous connections to local AWS regions.

The company is taking the AWS Outposts idea a bit further with the release of new AWS Local Zones. These will consist of Outpost machines placed in facilities very close to large cities, giving customers who don’t want or have their own data centers, but still have low-latency requirements, another option. Local Zones, the first of which is in the Los Angeles area, provide this capability and tie back to AWS’ larger regional zones, the company said.

Outposts, AWS Local Zones and the previously launched VMware Cloud on AWS constitute a hybrid cloud computing portfolio for AWS — but you won’t hear Jassy or other executives say the phrase multi-cloud, at least not in public.

In fact, partners who want to co-brand with AWS are forbidden from using that phrase and similar verbiage in marketing materials, according to an AWS co-branding document provided to SearchAWS.com.

“AWS does not allow or approve use of the terms ‘multi-cloud,’ ‘cross cloud,’ ‘any cloud, ‘every cloud,’ or any other language that implies designing or supporting more than one cloud provider,” the co-branding guidelines, released in August, state. “In this same vein, AWS will also not approve references to multiple cloud providers (by name, logo, or generically).”

An AWS spokesperson didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The statement may not be surprising in context of AWS’s market lead, but does stand in contrast to recent approaches by Google, with the Anthos multi-cloud container management platform, and Microsoft’s Azure Arc, which uses native Azure tools, but has multi-cloud management aspects.

AWS customers may certainly want multi-cloud capabilities, but can protect themselves by using portable products and technologies, such as Kubernetes at the lowest level with a tradeoff being the manual labor involved, said Holger Mueller, an analyst with Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.

“To be fair, Azure and Google are only at the beginning of [multi-cloud],” he said.

Meanwhile, many AWS customers have apparently grown quite comfortable moving their IT estates onto the platform. One example is Cox Automotive, known for its digital properties such as Autotrader.com and Kelley Blue Book.

In total, Cox has more than 200 software applications, many of which it accrued through a series of acquisitions, and the company expects to move it all onto AWS, said Chris Dillon, VP of architecture, during a re:Invent presentation.

Cox is using AWS Well-Architected Framework, a best practices tool for deployments on AWS, to manage the transition.

“When you start something new and do it quickly you always run the risk of not doing it well,” said Gene Mahon, director of engineering operations. “We made a decision early on that everything would go through a Well-Architected review.”

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Oracle andVMware forge new IaaS cloud partnership

SAN FRANCISCO — VMware’s virtualization stack will be made available on Oracle’s IaaS, in a partnership that underscores changing currents in the public cloud market and represents a sharp strategic shift for Oracle.

Under the pact, enterprises will be able to deploy certified VMware software on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), the company’s second-generation IaaS. Oracle is now a member of the VMware Cloud Provider Program and will sell VMware’s Cloud Foundation stack for software-defined data centers, the companies said on the opening day of Oracle’s OpenWorld conference.

Oracle plans to give customers full root access to physical servers on OCI, and they can use VMware’s vCenter product to manage on-premises and OCI-based environments through a single tool.

“The VMware you’re running on-premises, you can lift and shift it to the Oracle Cloud,” executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said during a keynote. “You really control version management operations, upgrade time of the VMware stack, making it easy for you to migrate — if that’s what you want to do — into the cloud with virtually no change.”

The companies have also reached a mutual agreement around support, which Oracle characterized with the following statement: “[C]ustomers will have access to Oracle technical support for Oracle products running on VMware environments. … Oracle has agreed to support joint customers with active support contracts running supported versions of Oracle products in Oracle supported computing environments.”

It’s worth noting the careful language of that statement, given Oracle and VMware’s history. While Oracle has become more open to supporting its products on VMware environments, it has yet to certify any for VMware.

Moreover, many customers have found Oracle’s licensing policy for deploying its products on VMware devilishly complex. In fact, a cottage industry has emerged around advisory services meant to help customers keep compliant with Oracle and VMware.

Nothing has changed with regard to Oracle’s existing processor license policy, said Vinay Kumar, vice president of product management for OCI. But the VMware software to be made available on OCI will be through bundled, Oracle-sold SKUs that encompass software and physical infrastructure. Initially, one SKU based on X7 bare-metal instances will be available, according to Kumar.

Oracle and VMware have been working on the partnership for the past nine months, he added. The first SKU is expected to be available within the next six months. Kumar declined to provide details on pricing.

Oracle, VMware relations warm in cloudier days

“It seems like there is a thaw between Oracle and VMware,” said Gary Chen, an analyst at IDC. The companies have a huge overlap in terms of customers who use their software in tandem, and want more deployment options, he added. “Oracle customers are stuck on Oracle,” he said. “They have to make Oracle work in the cloud.”

Gary Chen, Analyst, IDCGary Chen

Meanwhile, VMware has already struck cloud-related partnerships with AWS, IBM, Microsoft and Google, leaving Oracle little choice but to follow. Oracle has also largely ceded the general-purpose IaaS market to those competitors, and has positioned OCI for more specialized tasks as well as core enterprise application workloads, which often run on VMware today.

Massive amounts of on-premises enterprise workloads run on VMware, but as companies look to port them to the cloud, they want to do it in the fastest, easiest way possible, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.

The biggest cost of lift-and-shift deployments to the cloud involves revalidation and testing in the new environment, Mueller added.

It seems like there is a thaw between Oracle and VMware.
Gary ChenAnalyst, IDC

But at this point, many enterprises have automated test scripts in place, or even feel comfortable not retesting VMware workloads, according to Mueller. “So the leap of faith involved with deploying a VMware VM on a server in the corporate data center or in a public cloud IaaS is the same,” he said.

In the near term, most customers of the new VMware-OCI service will move Oracle database workloads over, but it will be Oracle’s job to convince them OCI is a good fit for other VMware workloads, Mueller added.

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Oracle Cloud Infrastructure updates hone in on security

SAN FRANCISCO — Oracle hopes a focus on advanced security can help its market-lagging IaaS gain ground against the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google.

A new feature called Maximum Security Zones lets customers denote enclaves within their Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) environments that have all security measures turned on by default. Resources within the zones are limited to configurations that are known to be secure. The system will also prevent alterations to configurations and provide continuous monitoring and defenses against anomalies, Oracle said on the opening day of its OpenWorld conference.

Through Maximum Security Zones, customers “will be better protected from the consequences of misconfigurations than they are in other cloud environments today,” Oracle said in an obvious allusion to recent data breaches, such as the Capital One-AWS hack, which have been blamed on misconfigured systems that gave intruders a way in.

“Ultimately, our goal is to deliver to you a fully autonomous cloud,” said Oracle executive chairman and CTO Larry Ellison, during a keynote. 

“If you spend the night drinking and get into your Ford F-150 and crash it, that’s not Ford’s problem,” he said. “If you get into an autonomous Tesla, it should get you home safely.”

Oracle wants to differentiate itself and OCI from AWS, which consistently promotes a shared responsibility model for security between itself and customers. “We’re trying to leapfrog that construct,” said Vinay Kumar, vice president of product management for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.

“The cloud has always been about, you have to bring your own expertise and architecture to get this right,” said Leo Leung, senior director of products and strategy at OCI. “Think about this as a best-practice deployment automatically. … We’re going to turn all the security on and let the customer decide what is ultimately right for them.”

Security is too important to rely solely on human effort.
Holger MuellerVice president and principal analyst, Constellation Research.

Oracle’s Autonomous Database, which is expected to be a big focal point at this year’s OpenWorld, will benefit from a new service called Oracle Data Safe. This provides a set of controls for securing the database beyond built-in features such as always-on encryption and will be included as part of the cost of Oracle Database Cloud services, according to a statement.

Finally, Oracle announced Cloud Guard, which it says can spot threats and misconfigurations and “hunt down and kill” them automatically. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Cloud Guard is a homegrown Oracle product or made by a third-party vendor. Security vendor Check Point offers an IaaS security product called CloudGuard for use with OCI.

Starting in 2017, Oracle began to talk up new autonomous management and security features for its database, and the OpenWorld announcements repeat that mantra, said Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif. “Security is too important to rely solely on human effort,” he said.

OCI expansions target disaster recovery, compliance

Oracle also said it will broadly expand OCI’s global cloud footprint, with the launch of 20 new regions by the end of next year. The rollout will bring Oracle’s region count to 36, spread across North America, Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, India and Australia.

This expansion will add multiple regions in certain geographies, allowing for localized disaster recovery scenarios as well as improved regulatory compliance around data location. Oracle plans to add multi-region support in every country it offers OCI and claimed this approach is superior to the practice of including multiple availability zones in a single region.

Oracle’s recently announced cloud interoperability partnership with Microsoft is also getting a boost. The interconnect that ties together OCI and Azure, now available in Virginia and London, will also be offered in the Western U.S., Asia and Europe over the next nine months, according to a statement. In most cases, Oracle is leasing data center space from providers such as Equinix, according to Kumar.

Holger MuellerHolger Mueller

SaaS vendors are another key customer target for Oracle with OCI. To that end, it announced new integrated third-party billing capabilities for the OCI software marketplace released earlier this year. Oracle also cited SaaS providers who are taking advantage of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure for their own underlying infrastructure, including McAfee and Cisco.

There’s something of value for enterprise customers in OCI attracting more independent software vendors, an area where Oracle also lags against the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google, according to Mueller.

“In contrast to enterprises, they bring a lot of workloads, often to be transferred from on-premises or even other clouds to their preferred vendor,” he said. “For the IaaS vendor, that means a lot of scale, in a market that lives by economies of scale: More workloads means lower prices.”

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New details emerge about AWS Outposts as launch nears

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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