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What's the future of Amazon RDS on VMware?

Amazon is making its Relational Database Service available to on-premises VMware infrastructures. This deal indicates a hybrid cloud future with more options than some predicted.

Amazon RDS on VMware makes Amazon's Relational Database Service available to on-premises VMware infrastructures and points to the likely future of hybrid cloud services.

Many people used to see VMware and AWS as bitter enemies, but that changed when they announced VMware Cloud on AWS in 2017. The announcement of Amazon RDS on VMware at VMworld 2018 further indicated an evolving relationship between the two companies that could point to the potential for more collaborations between cloud vendors and on-premises infrastructures.

The investment necessary to move everything to the cloud has proven too costly for many organizations, so as realistic expectations set in, more and more cloud vendors will likely seek to integrate the cloud's features and benefits with on-premises infrastructures.

The goal of Amazon RDS is to make it easy to set up, run and grow a relational database. RDS provides a flexible and easy way to do previously tedious work such as patching, capacity management and database tuning. Because this is an Amazon service, it offers the flexibility of only paying for what you use with on-demand pricing or reserved, dedicated capacity. Until recently, Amazon limited this service to the Amazon cloud.

Amazon RDS on VMware is in technical preview, so all the details of how the platform functions are currently unavailable. If it's anything like native Amazon RDS, you'll be able to build and manage a database from half a dozen popular database types, including Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server.

Amazon RDS for VMware will enable affordable, high-availability hybrid deployments; simplified database disaster recovery to AWS; and read-only clones of on-premises data in AWS. This partnership can help Amazon customers easily move traditional database deployments out of their sites and into AWS -- even sites with tricky licensing requirements. It can also help VMware customers see the benefits of the AWS management stack for databases in a traditional infrastructure.

Amazon RDS on VMware reveals real cloud value

Though the technical benefits of Amazon RDS on VMware are interesting, the real message behind its release is that IT departments are starting to realize that the value of the cloud is in the operating model -- not the location.

As much as the industry has talked about hybrid cloud, most customers haven't been able to implement it.

Up until this point, Amazon has focused on moving workloads to the public cloud; even VMware Cloud on AWS has focused on moving legacy workloads off premises. Amazon RDS on VMware is different. With this release, Amazon is following Microsoft in the attempt to provide public cloud services inside the confines of the data center.

If Amazon continues to add its services to the data center and Microsoft continues to do the same with Azure Stack, then customers might see many of the major cloud benefits without the huge effort of moving workloads to the public cloud. As much as the industry has talked about hybrid cloud, most customers haven't been able to implement it.

It takes a large investment for customers to achieve the flexibility, ease of consumption, agility and scale of the public cloud. Instead of making that investment, organizations often invest time and effort into only moving particular workloads to the cloud. As cloud providers look to extend the public cloud into the private data center, customers can get the best of both worlds and achieve a true hybrid cloud model.

The ability to run Amazon services inside your data center is all but an admission by Amazon that the public cloud is not the only path forward. Combine that with the fact that you can now run a traditional VMware on-premises infrastructure inside Amazon's public cloud and you can see that both companies have decided public, private and hybrid clouds can all coexist.

The question is: Are Amazon and VMware true friends or simply temporary collaborators? Will this partnership continue to grow into other services or will Amazon offer AWS in a box in the future?

This was last published in October 2018

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