VMworld 2017: Thoughts on VMware Cloud on AWS

I love that finally the VMware Cloud on AWS is now out in the wild, and customers can try, buy, evaluate.   This may surprise some people – after all, from Dell EMC eyes, isn’t it bad?

Not these Dell EMC eyes.  I think it’s great.

The Dell Technology cloud strategy can be summarized in a couple strategic principles:

  • We think that Cloud is really an operating model, not a place.
  • We think that there is a clear market need for both on-premises and off-premises clouds.   Hybrid is the answer.   This means that technologies which “connect” on and off-premises models are very important.   NSX is an example.   vRealize is an example.  Data Protection is an example.
  • We think that there there will be multiple cloud stacks – all optimizing for slightly different things and delivering multiple different services.   This means that technologies that “span” different clouds are important.  Pivotal Cloud Foundry is an example.  Pivotal Container Services is an example.  Boomi is an example.

Simple, and obvious right?   Operating model, not a place.  Hybrid.  Multi.

The biggest challenge I see at customers is them literally intractably stuck – trying to navigate choices.   Confused as all get out.   Listening to whomever says “I have the answer”.  It’s a great time to be a consultant 🙂

VMware on AWS is something powerful in a time of confusion – a simplification.

Customers using the VMware software stack on premises now have a choice where they can directly extend that software defined compute, storage, network and run it on AWS hardware, in AWS datacenters.  

I was deeply skeptical at first – not understanding why a customer would want an IaaS on and IaaS – but that’s not what VMware Cloud on AWS is

The VMware Cloud on AWS is the SDC (vSphere), SDS (vSAN), and SDN (NSX) stacks from VMware running on AWS bare metal – provisioned and supported by VMware, and something they can buy directly from VMware.

It’s familiar to customers – to the point where it looks like a linked vCenter datacenter in the web client.   VMware Cloud on AWS runs any workload you can run on premises – not just cloud native ones. 

  • Yes, I think it’s really cool that VMware Cloud on AWS helps customers use the public cloud in a way that is easy – not all apps can be rebuilt using cloud native principles (it’s not a technical barrier – sometimes there are other barriers).   It’s also a great way for VMware IP to be extended into the public cloud.
  • Yes, I think it’s really cool that the Dell EMC Data Protection Suite for VMware is already built in and ready to go with the VMware Cloud on AWS.
  • Yes, it’s not perfect – but it’s ready enough for day one.   There evident features/functions that are needed in the roadmap (from the top of my head – flat overlay NSX networking/peering, the ability to span AWS AZs for more resiliency, etc) but those will come over time.

But – what I REALLY like about it may not be what you think.

I like that it’s SIMPLE & CLEAR.   I like that it will SHINE A LIGHT on a topic of enormous confusion.

In one easy step, it clears up all the **ahem** fog there is about cloud being about straight up economics.  

I’m so tired of people claiming (without doing the math) about the economics of steady-state workloads, or workloads with high persistence:compute ratios in public cloud.  

Watch this.   I have a homework assignment for you dear reader! 

Look at the economics of VMware Cloud on AWS with pay-as-you go, 1 year commit, and 3 year commit pricing.   Assume a solid, but normal consolidation ratio. 

Then do a comparison with the relative economics of the DIRECT on premises peer with the same assumptions.   The direct peer is VxRack SDDC.

Do that comparison looking at VxRack SDDC – as 100% capital.  This is close to analagous to the 3 year VMware Cloud on AWS model assuming a 3 year depreciation term.    Also do that comparison VxRack SDDC via CloudFlex (which delivers a cloud economic model with built-in annual price declines, 100% opex monthly payments, and full right to scale down/return after 1 year).    This is close to analagous to the 1 year VMware Cloud on AWS model.   In both cases, make some assumptions about power/space/cooling – but otherwise it’s a 1:1 compare.

PLEASE share your findings in the comments.  I’ll update the post in a couple weeks as the dust settles.

The ability to solve the Gordian Knot of customers struggling with the the reasons for on/off-premises and capex/opex economic models by having a simple direct item for them to price compare will be very interesting!