VMware’s new cloud service will run on AWS

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It’s been an open secret that Amazon’s AWS division and VMware were going to announce a partnership at a press conference in San Francisco later today. Thanks to VMware mistakenly posting its announcement early, we didn’t have to wait for the afternoon to know what the two companies will announce.

In what is surely a play to get more enterprises to move to AWS over its competitors — and to protect VMware’s leadership around virtual machines, VMware and AWS are bringing VMware’s software-defined data center software to AWS under the ‘VMware Cloud on AWS‘ moniker.

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This means that all of VMware’s infrastructure software like vSphere, VSAN and NSX will soon run on AWS. The service is currently in its technology preview phase and an invite-only beta will start in early 2017 and the service will likely come out of beta in mid-2017.

The service will be operated, sold and supported by VMware (not AWS) but integrate with the rest of AWS’ cloud portfolio (think storage, database, analytics and more).

“Our customers continue to ask us to make it easier for them to run their existing data center investments alongside AWS,” wrote Andy Jassy, CEO, AWS, in today’s announcement. “Most enterprises are already virtualized using VMware, and now with VMware Cloud on AWS, for the first time, it will be easy for customers to operate a consistent and seamless hybrid IT environment using their existing VMware tools on AWS, and without having to purchase custom hardware, rewrite their applications, or modify their operating model.”

At their event today, the two companies introduced a number of early customers. These include Western Digital and Sysco.

The companies stress that this is a jointly architected service that “represents a significant investment in engineering, operations, support and sales resources from both companies.” It will run on a dedicated AWS infrastructure that was “purpose-built for this offering.” VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger also today stressed the fact that AWS and VMware worked very closely together to create this service and stressed that this will become VMware’ primary public cloud solution.

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“Currently in Technology Preview, VMware Cloud on AWS, will bring VMware’s enterprise class Software-Defined Data Center software to the AWS cloud, and will enable customers to run any application across vSphere-based private, public and hybrid cloud environments,” VMware’s Mark Lohmeyer writes in today’s (currently deleted) announcement. “It will be operated, managed and sold by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable service and customers will be able to leverage AWS services such as developer tools, analytics, databases, and more.”

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While Microsoft, IBM and others have strongly focused on the idea of the “hybrid cloud” (that is, a setup where an enterprise uses both its own data centers and public cloud services like Azure, Google Cloud or AWS), Amazon has mostly ignored this market.

Given that VMware already dominates in many of these enterprise’s own on-premises data centers but doesn’t own a public cloud service to give these users a hybrid option — and that AWS doesn’t offer an on-premises version of its services — it makes sense for these two companies to team up now.

VMware also stressed in its announcement the hybrid capabilities this partnership enables and notes that it will bring “full VM compatibility and total workload portability between the datacenter and the AWS cloud.”

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It’s worth noting that AWS already offered some support for VMware’s vCenter for managing virtual machines. Thanks to this, vCenter admins have long been able to manage their AWS EC2 cloud computing instances using the same software they use for managing their VMware virtual machines. That service, too, made it relatively easy to move existing virtual machines to EC2.

As IBM kindly pointed out in a series of emails meant to preempt today’s announcement, VMware and IBM already teamed up and announced a partnership back in February. This deal with AWS seems to go quite a bit further, though.

Update: we updated this post to reflect AWS’ and VMware’s comments at their press conference today.

Here is full blog post that VMware has now deleted but that I expect will go up again around 1:30pm PT today when the AWS press conference starts:

By Mark Lohmeyer, Vice President, Products, Cloud Platform Business Unit, VMware
Today, VMware and AWS are announcing a strategic partnership that brings the two leaders in Enterprise IT together to deliver a vSphere-based cloud service running on AWS. This service will make it easier for customers to run any application, using a set of familiar software and tools, in a consistent hybrid cloud environment.

The Power of VMware on AWS

Currently in Technology Preview, VMware Cloud on AWS, will bring VMware’s enterprise class Software-Defined Data Center software to the AWS cloud, and will enable customers to run any application across vSphere-based private, public and hybrid cloud environments. It will be operated, managed and sold by VMware as an on-demand, elastically scalable service and customers will be able to leverage AWS services such as developer tools, analytics, databases, and more.
This jointly architected service represents a significant investment in engineering, operations, support and sales resources from both companies. Designed to deliver a great customer experience, the service will be optimized to run on dedicated AWS infrastructure purpose-built for this offering. It will deliver the power of VMware’s SDDC infrastructure software across compute, network, and storage (with vSphere, VSAN, and NSX) while providing access to advanced AWS services, backed by an integrated customer support experience. Invite-only betas are expected to start in the beginning of 2017 with availability expected to be in the mid-2017 time-frame.

Customer Benefits

Customers can realize significant benefits from this service that combines the best of VMware and AWS, including:
  • Best-in-class Hybrid Cloud Capabilities: Enterprise class application performance, reliability, availability and security with the best-in-class VMware technologies, all optimized to run on AWS, the leading public cloud provider.
  • Operationally consistent with vSphere: With VMware Cloud on AWS, your private data center integrated with the AWS public cloud can be operated using the same vCenter UIs, APIs and CLIs you already know.  There’s nothing new to learn, and with vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode, you will have a single pane of glass for managing on-premises and VMware Cloud resources on AWS.
  • Operated and supported by VMware: The service will be operated, sold and supported by VMware. All software components of the service will be fully certified and supported by VMware.
  • Seamless integration with AWS Services: Virtual Machines running in this environment will have access to leverage AWS’s broad set of cloud-based services including storage, database, analytics and more. This will enable a new set of solutions only possible with VMware environments co-existing on the same infrastructure as AWS cloud-based services.
  • Seamless workload portability: Full VM compatibility and total workload portability between the datacenter and the AWS cloud.  No complex and time consuming application re-platforming is required.  Whether you want to use the cloud as your disaster recovery site, migrate a whole data center, or simply burst to the cloud – you can be confident that your applications will just work.
  • Elastically scalable: The service will let you scale capacity according to your needs.  You can scale capacity up and down by adding or removing hosts.
  • No patching or upgrades: The service will remove the burden of managing the software patch, update and upgrade lifecycle for the user. Operating “as a service” means that VMware will take responsibility for ensuring that your environment is always up to date.  This means more time to focus on what matters to your business.
  • Subscription-based consumption: Customers will be able to purchase dedicated clusters that combine VMware software and AWS infrastructure, either on-demand or as a subscription service.
If you would like to learn more, please check out additional details at
If you are interested in applying for the beta, please fill out this interest form.