Amazon’s re:Invent yearly conference last week was packed as ever, with people and with announcements. But one announcement caught my attention, and you wouldn’t like to miss it either:
Amazon is officially stepping into hybrid cloud.
AWS Outposts is the name of Amazon’s hybrid cloud service, offering customers the ability to run compute and storage on-premises using the same native AWS APIs they know and love from the cloud. In Amazon’s own words:
AWS Outposts bring native AWS services, infrastructure, and operating models to virtually any data center, co-location space, or on-premises facility for a truly consistent and seamless hybrid cloud.
This is a groundbreaking change for AWS, the dogmatic crusader of public cloud. Back in 2016 I pointed out that hybrid cloud strategies gain traction with enterprises, one of the most lucrative sectors, and their needs and workloads cannot be met by a public cloud pure-play. Similar need for hybrid cloud arises with industrial automation, telecom network virtualization and other sectors. Now it seems Amazon finally embraced it.
The first crack in Amazon’s public cloud dogma was made in late 2016 when Amazon made a strategic partnership with VMware, which enabled Amazon to step into hybrid cloud without “getting its hands dirty”. This alliance is receiving a boost now with AWS Outposts: alongside the native AWS APIs on-prem offering, Outposts will come in another variant running VMware Cloud on AWS service.
The second crack in Amazon’s public cloud dogma was made in 2017 when the Internet-of-Things drove Amazon to offer an Edge Computing service named Greengrass, which enabled customers for the first time to run their favorite AWS services locally.
AWS is well behind in realizing the hybrid cloud: Amazon’s primary cloud rival Microsoft announced its Azure Stack in 2015. Microsoft has been pushing the adoption of Azure Stack by enterprises also through partnerships with established manufacturers and enterprise incumbents such as Dell-EMC, HPE, Huawei and Lenovo, which provide the hyperconverged hardware units and therefore have the business incentive to promote the joint solution.
Though the details are scarce, and Outposts isn’t due in general availability until second half of 2019, it seems from the announcement that Amazon is taking a different strategy, offering both the software, hardware and support by AWS in an attempt to keep all ends of the business in-house and in tight control:
Outposts infrastructure is fully managed, maintained, and supported by AWS, and its hardware and software components can be updated to deliver access to the latest AWS services.
Many other major players which had tried launching public cloud offering in the past few years have discovered Amazon’s domination in this arena and ultimately changed strategy, shut down their offering and turned to hybrid cloud, with emphasis on serving enterprise workloads. Just read the stories of major companies such as HP, Cisco, Verizon and Rackspace.
The popular containers movement also accelerates the hybrid cloud approach, by enabling same deployment constructs through on-prem and cloud and easy mobility between them.
Hybrid cloud model is significant to many industries and workloads, taking into account various constraints such as data privacy, geo-location, and latency. This need requires more mature solutions, and Amazon weighing in will surely push the industry forward, as it has done for public cloud, serverless computing and other domains.
Follow Horovits on Twitter!