Back to blog What's currently missing from AWS Outposts

Back in November 2018 during the annual AWS Re:Invent conference, along with a whole swathe of other solution and company announcements that are common with these type of events, there was one release that got us particularly interested here at Cloudhelix.

AWS Outposts, the forthcoming AWS on-premise solution from Amazon, caught our attention for a few reasons. To us, it showed a monumental shift in the cloud marketplace, with AWS - one of the biggest advocates for pureplay public cloud usage - building out a solution that shows that even they understand that not every workload is suitable for the public cloud.

We won’t go into masses of detail around the solution itself as:

  • It’s been very well documented elsewhere, including the AWS website
  • It’s yet to be publicly released, so it’s impossible to get a full picture of the solution and how it works.

AWS Outposts isn’t the first solution of its kind, in fact we’ve been delivered our own converged cloud solution over the past couple of years that was publicly released at the start of 2019 - the Converged Cloud Stack. Besides AWS and Cloudhelix, there are also converged solutions from Nutanix, Pure Storage, Netapp and more. It’s interesting to see even the public cloud players crafting solutions to suit enterprise challenges regarding multi cloud, data residency, security and looking to reduce the level of effort and complexity often involved with buying and building dedicated or on-premise cloud platforms.

A quick overview of converged infrastructure

As covered in a previous Cloudhelix blog about hyperconverged infrastructure, converged infrastructure at its simplest can be defined as follows...

The general aim with convergence is to reduce complexity within the data centre. A converged solution includes components such as servers, storage, network and more. This allows businesses to go to one supplier rather than several and buy a single piece of kit containing the core components to deliver cloud infrastructure.

However, there’s much more to this solution than convenience. The fact everything to deliver cloud connectivity can be delivered within a single appliance makes it perfect for on-premise deployments, bringing the benefits of the cloud to individual sites and not just data centre locations.

Interestingly, many converged solutions are often pitched at the top end of the market. Some hardware-only solutions have been known to rack up into the millions, with support and management then coming on top of that. For the vast majority of organisations, this is out of the question. There’s no pricing available for AWS Outposts yet as general release is still some time away but we’ve built the Converged Cloud Stack to be suitably priced for the average enterprise.

What’s missing from AWS Outposts - level of management

AWS Outposts is a joint venture between VMware and AWS, with two deployment options currently outlined are VMware on AWS Outposts, providing the same VMware control plane and APIs used to run existing infrastructure with any Outpost-based infrastructure. The second option is an AWS native variant of this, which allows the AWS control plane and APIs to be used for any Outpost-based infrastructure.

As far as we can tell at this stage, both of these solutions are only managed up to the level of the physical infrastructure. There won’t be any management of the virtual machines that get built on the infrastructure, neither will there be any setup/ management of the applications that are run on top of these VMs. This creates a lot of work for the client once the infrastructure is deployed. If the client team has the resource internally and the team structure to effectively build and manage VMs, this is fine, however this is probably more applicable to enterprise size and cloud-first teams to effectively service this requirement.

In contrast, our solution, the Converged Cloud Stack is deployed with the VMs and application installed, taking away the work involved in setting up this environment that looks like it may be involved with Outposts. Once the infrastructure is deployed, it’s fully managed remotely up to the OS as standard by our Edinburgh-based Network Operations Centre.

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What’s missing from AWS Outposts - native services

Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the AWS-native Outpost deployment would be to get the benefit of the full suite of AWS services on-premise, however it’s currently stated within the Outpost FAQs that when AWS Outposts is available for purchase later this year, customers will only be able to provision EC2 instances and EBS volumes, with further services made available down the line.

It’s common for AWS to launch a feature into a particular region before its slowly rolled out across the world, however, for an organisation well invested in AWS and liking the sound of Outposts, they would have to make do with EC2 and EBS, the equivalent of VMware VMs, for the initial launch. There’s no guarantee which services will make it to Outposts, when they will be available and which services may never make it, which may make it difficult for companies to invest.

How does the Converged Cloud Stack differ from AWS Outposts?

As we’ve touched on a couple of times in this post, as AWS Outposts is yet to be released, it’s difficult to get an idea of technical specifics, how fast the solution can be deployed and so on, so there are still lots of unknowns. Below, we’ve detailed some features of the Converged Cloud Stack that make it an interesting proposition for organisations considering a converged solution.

Agility

A key aspect of the Converged Cloud Stack is our commitment to deploy it anywhere globally in just thirty working days, and project delivery is included as standard.

We believe that the process of deploying on-prem cloud resource should be just as simple as spinning up virtual cloud resource. Of course, it will take a number of days and not seconds to build, configure and ship hardware – especially where global shipping and customs is concerned – but it’s paramount that businesses are confident in their ability to deliver on-premise cloud technology at a rate that allows them to compete.

Cost

Please enquire for workload specific pricing, but organisations can expect to pay a fraction of the cost of other converged solutions on the market. For a simple, monthly fee, organisations can expect project delivery, application installation, hardware, extensive management, monitoring up to the OS and 24x7x365 support from our team of cloud architects.

Expect more blog posts over the coming weeks on all things converged cloud. You can even get the next post direct to your inbox by leaving your email address in our live chat widget in the bottom right corner of this window.

For more information on the converged cloud stack, check out the product page here or get in touch with any specific questions using the form on this page.

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Posted in Managed Cloud on Feb 03, 2019