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Understand the benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS

As you consider transitioning to cloud, especially with the benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS now available, the methods and reasons for transitioning must be examined and justified.

The joint efforts of two market leaders -- VMware for on-premises VMs and Amazon Web Services for the public cloud...

-- form a potent combination in VMware Cloud on AWS. What does this mean for your VMware environment and, more importantly, for your business? Like the answer to many technology questions, it's contingent on a number of factors. Before you make a decision, weigh the costs and benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS, while examining the reasons you want to transitition and how you will do so.

Operational functionality

At its heart, VMware Cloud on AWS tries to take the entire VMware software-defined data center to AWS cloud by using bare-metal servers hosted by Amazon with the VMware portfolio layered on top. The resulting offering is sold and supported entirely by VMware, so an end user never interacts with Amazon and doesn't need to have an account with it.

VMware provides a fully configured software stack that runs ESXi, NSX and vSAN on top of Amazon-provided Intel x86 servers. This fully configured stack is provisioned, operated and maintained entirely by VMware. You don't need an IT operations staff to run the hypervisor or to manage any of the underlying hardware, including monitoring, patching and updates. This can be viewed as one of the benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS. Customers have some access to the environment, but not root-level access or vSphere Distributed Switch configuration access.

The cloud isn't an automatic cost-saver

Moving to the cloud can offer many benefits, but your method matters.

The most apparent model for accomplishing the transition is the classic lift and shift. The goal here is to move a workload from your existing VMware environment onto the VMware Cloud on AWS environment. The typical business case for doing a lift and shift is to free up time spent managing hardware and hypervisors. Saving money via lift and shift, however, can be hard for many customers as the minimum spend of VMware Cloud on AWS is more than $207,000 per year.

Your mileage might vary depending on the cost relative to your current spend, but if you already have sunk costs, this might be a hard pill to swallow. This doesn't mean there aren't benefits to VMware Cloud on AWS, but it doesn't automatically save money.

The cloud checkmark

If your goal is to follow the trend and gain the status of being in the cloud, then VMware Cloud on AWS is an easy way to get that checkmark. The danger is that a data center migration almost always takes longer than planned and creates significant confusion. Data center migration is already a high-risk activity, but moving to the cloud might increase that risk even more. If you aren't using sofware-defined networking, you will be after migrating to VMware Cloud on AWS. The journey isn't as straightforward as some vendors might present it to be, so make sure it's worth the commitment.

Proximity to AWS servers

If you're already consuming AWS services and have an on-premises application that needs to communicate with AWS, having a VMware environment close to it could be a benefit. The added milliseconds of latency between your enterprise data center and AWS can affect the performance of some applications. The ability to address this problem is one of the more compelling benefits of VMware Cloud on AWS.

VMware Cloud on AWS puts another tool in your toolbelt for your organization's journey to the cloud. Moving to the cloud can offer many benefits, but your method matters. Whether you choose to refactor your application, perform a lift and shift or run your workload on premises, make sure to weigh all your options and understand the benefits and costs of each method.

Next Steps

Replicate to the cloud with AWS Server Migration Service

Consider these five questions when debating cloud vs. on premises

Compare the prices of on-premises vSphere and VMware Cloud on AWS

This was last published in October 2017

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