Q&A: VMware Cloud on AWS Update with Kit Colbert

Less than a year after the initial launch, VMware Cloud on AWS is gaining rapid adoption, expanded availability and innovations.

With the joint solution from VMware and Amazon, IT organizations deliver their VMware-based software-defined data center (SDDC) as an on-demand service in the AWS Cloud. Migration is easy. Operations are simple and consistent across environments. VMware SDDC capacity is on demand, and scaling is fast.

Now, find out what’s new for VMware Cloud on AWS from Kit Colbert, CTO of the VMware Cloud platform.

Q&A: Kit Colbert on What’s New for VMware Cloud on AWS

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Kit Colbert, CTO of the VMware Cloud Platform

1. What is the most critical challenge enterprises must solve when it comes to hybrid cloud?

The most significant challenges we see involve consistency of tooling across different cloud environments. Struggling to operationalize these environments in production, customers face big questions:

  • How do I move and provision workloads between these different environments?
  • How do I identify and handle performance issues?
  • How do I ensure security and compliance?
  • Do I have a backup plan?

Additionally, if developers go rogue in different environments, companies can’t be sure the apps they’re provisioning are appropriately secured and monitored.

2. How much progress has VMware made towards helping enterprises solve this challenge?

We’ve made great strides with VMware Cloud on AWS:

  • It’s a hybrid cloud management experience made easy, both on premises and in the cloud.
  • It enables customers to leverage existing on-premises tooling and investments in VMware training and education.
  • It empowers customers with a single operational team.

This last point is one of the most important but underrated ones. Often, customers have two separate teams operating on-premises and cloud environments.

There’s still a lot we need to do, though. We still need to deeply integrate with more of Amazon’s cloud services. This is a key added value of giving customers a VMware SDDC running in the AWS Cloud.

We also need to expand to other AWS regions. We already announced VMware Cloud on AWS availability in the U.S. and Europe, but multi-national customers will demand broader coverage.

3. Speaking of which, what’s new for VMware Cloud on AWS?

There are three key innovation areas for VMware Cloud on AWS:

  1. Where and how we offer the service.
  2. What we deliver as part of the core service.
  3. Then what applications and use cases the service supports.

First, we’re regionally expanding VMware Cloud on AWS. European customers are very excited about the availability of the GDPR-ready solution in the AWS Europe (Frankfurt) Region. In addition to London, now they have a regional option on the European mainland. We also announced that we will be coming to Asia-Pacific soon. Additionally, we announced our intent to deliver an entirely new service, VMware Cloud on AWS GovCloud (US), that will expand the solution’s regional availability and meet the most stringent requirements of government applications and public sector customers.

In terms of the core service and functionality, there’s a lot of news:

  • Stretched Clusters for VMware Cloud on AWS: This is a cool feature that allows us to take all the capabilities we have with vSphere, such as HA and vMotion, and allow that to run across Availability Zones within an AWS region—something that you can’t do today without specific application support. The fact that this works transparently for all applications makes it a very exciting feature and something that is already resonating with customers.
  • Elastic Distributed Resource Scheduler (Elastic DRS): This is another very cool capability. It takes advantage of the dynamics of the cloud to automatically provision additional VMware ESXi hosts if the vSphere cluster starts running out of capacity. You can’t do this on premises, but with the magic of the cloud, you can.
  • Distributed Firewall Support: This is another one I think is critical to a lot of Essentially we’re unleashing the full power of NSX on VMware Cloud on AWS SDDCs. This is something that we’ve had on premises but had not yet enabled in the cloud.

Finally, we want customers to be able to run all the applications in their data center on the cloud. So our virtual desktop and application platform, VMware Horizon 7, is now supported on VMware Cloud on AWS.

4. What excites business leaders most about VMware Cloud on AWS?

Where to begin. What I hear most from customers is excitement for how quickly they can move workloads into the cloud with VMware Cloud on AWS. Traditionally, moving workloads from on-premises data centers into the cloud is an intensive effort. Often applications have to be modified. The way it’s operated changes. A lot of thought goes into that, and it can take months, or even years, to move a group of applications.

MIT, for instance, moved hundreds of workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS from their on-premises data center in a matter of days. They said that without VMware Cloud on AWS it would’ve taken more than 18 months.

For business leaders, it’s all about moving fast without friction. With that flexibility and ease, we see huge increases in business agility for companies using VMware Cloud on AWS.

5. What is the long-term, joint vision for VMware Cloud on AWS?

Hybrid cloud is here to stay. It’s not some sort of transition or temporary stage. While cloud is growing rapidly, there will always be reasons for apps to stay on premises. We continue to see that with the advent of edge computing, which is all about moving compute out of the data center to factories and oil rigs—basically moving those applications closer to where the source of data is. Hybrid cloud is something customers are always going to have.

Our vision is to enable customers on premises, on the public cloud and at the edge with one, consistent management plane. Location is then no longer an architectural decision—it becomes a policy decision. Companies want their apps in all these locations. We provide the underlying network—the compute and storage fabric—to connect it all together. As the leader of public cloud, Amazon is a huge partner here. Amazon has a great number of global regions, customers and workloads. Enabling customers to connect all those workloads in AWS with the workloads across all the different VMware locations is powerful. That’s the longer term vision: a consistent management and infrastructure framework across all these locations.

I think we’ve got a good starting point, but there’s clearly a lot more we need to do to fully realize the vision.

For business leaders, it’s all about moving fast without friction. With that flexibility and ease, we see huge increases in business agility for companies using VMware Cloud on AWS.

Kit Colbert, CTO of the VMware Cloud Platform

6. How are VMware and AWS jointly fostering innovation?

People underestimate the level of effort driving this partnership. This is not just marketing or a lightweight integration. Deep engineering work and big changes are happening on both sides.

For example, Amazon had to do a ton of engineering to provide bare-metal servers. They essentially opened up their data center so that someone else’s software can run on their bare-metal servers. There’s all sorts of security and networking implications, amongst many others. Amazon had to work through all that.

On our side, we evolved our software to support their environments, but the biggest shift we’ve had to make was developing the muscles for delivering our software as a service.

Traditionally, we’ve delivered our software as a shrink-wrapped product. We hand it off to customers. Customers figure out how to operationalize it in their data centers.

Now, we run our software in Amazon’s data centers. We’re responsible for updates and availability. That’s a huge change for thousands of our engineers.

That innovation continues. As we look at deeper integrations, there’s more work to do on the underlying AWS data center and on our underlying infrastructure.

We have a very close relationship. We call up their engineers anytime, and they call us. We remain in constant dialogue.

7. How do you perceive Amazon’s enthusiasm about this partnership?

The scope and size of their engineering investment alone, I think, is a good indicator that they’re all in. But it goes further than just the engineering side. It’s also how we’re going to market together.

We’re partnering closely on the AWS Summits, for example, where they generously allowed us to come on stage for a keynote. This is something they’ve never done before for a partner or vendor like us. It shows there’s a very special relationship.

Both companies are in this partnership 110 percent.