At Faction, we’ve gone “whole hog” on VMware Cloud on AWS. We’ve been involved since the very beginning, as one of the initial two service providers selected by VMware to pilot the service.  One of the most common things we’ve seen asked is: How is this different from VMware’s past cloud efforts?

VMware did have another cloud service, vCloud Air, and many people have asked question on how VMware Cloud on AWS differs from that effort. In this post, I want to look at some of the reasons why we believe VMware Cloud on AWS will fulfill a different, larger, and more dynamic part of the market. We think that skeptics who cast doubt on VMware Cloud on AWS due to vCloud Air not finding mass-market adoption are missing the reasons why this offering is dramatically different and is destinated for success.

VMware Cloud on AWS Provides for Like-for-Like migrations from on-premises VMware environments

There are over 60,000 VMware Certified Professionals (VCPs) in the United States. Those folks have deep and broad experience with vCenter and the vSphere client, and rely on it every day for both simple operations and deep integrations. VMware Cloud on AWS offers a different “cloud experience” from VMware: one that looks and feels like the on-premises toolset that infrastructure and operations teams rely on every day.

VMware administrators will find themselves right at home in VMware Cloud on AWS, as they will experience the same user interface and workflows they use on-premises on a regular basis. Whereas organizations looking to “go to the cloud” from their vSphere environments to other environments, whether that was AWS, Azure, or vCloud Air, found themselves needing to learn new tools, new processes, and rework things like automation, the VMware Cloud on AWS environment leverages the same end-user tools and the same APIs as an on-premises vCenter. This has a lot of appeal to administrators who have a strong desire to maintain the same toolset.

The Innovation Dilemma

One of the biggest challenges in the cloud space is that the pace of innovation is blistering. The major cloud providers today are throwing billions of dollars in R&D to win the hearts and minds of developers, distinguish themselves from competitors, and define new use cases by delivering faster, easier solutions to tough problems through deep integration with their existing cloud stacks. If you want to push into the cloud business today, you have to have a team ready to keep pace with this innovation, or you need to be ready to tackle a clearly defined niche.

VMware Cloud on AWS neatly sidesteps this issue by leveraging the innovation of AWS, which is something they’ve proven they’re great at. The seeds of that innovation we think lie in the Amazon services directive from Bezos, as described in the famous “Yegge Rant“. AWS built a culture of scalable, disconnected services with API interweavings when some of the biggest microservices innovators, like Twitter, were still twinkles in their founders’ eyes. AWS as an organization provides enormous amounts of independence for employees to innovate, and both their historical decisions and their culture show no signs of slowing.

Since AWS now has roughly 100 services, with more coming all the time, directly competing against them as a platform is a difficult proposition. There’s an entire line of inquiry about how safe adopting AWS services is, since unlike the simple infrastructure, where migration is certainly possible, applications that consume AWS platform services like Route 53, ELB, RDS or DynamoDB, etc, are effectively “locked in” by each services that doesn’t have some platform-neutral middleware layer involved. AWS does not need to be the cheapest or fastest cloud to drive adoption; they have to be the best place for developers and I&O professionals to solve problems, and they deliver on that brand promise through innovation.

AWS on their own “10 Years of Innovation”

A key difference between VMware Cloud on AWS and vCloud Air is that VMware Cloud on AWS unites VMware tools and the AWS ecosystem, with the latter being a key “feature” for VMware customers; not about “competing” with public clouds. VMware in a sense is both enabling their customers and saving them from attrition – because once you can move a VMware workload very close to the public cloud to avoid “data gravity” problems that latency creates, you become free to focus your precious development time on new features that move the business forward, rather than being faced with rewriting legacy apps just to make them cloud-friendly or re-architecting them to make them cloud-friendly.

By uniting with AWS and bringing together the market leaders in on-premises infrastructure and cloud services, VMware opens the possibility of doing complementary innovation instead of competitive innovation; meanwhile, AWS gets a red carpet to pursue the Enterprise business it desires to expand with.

Developers, not VMware admins, are running the show

For many organizations, their VMware talent is still critical to keeping the business running; but  there is another, arguably more important, contingent that drives an increasing share of technology decisions: developers. Developers drive public cloud adoption. Enterprise adoption has slowly followed the unwavering desire of developers to use more cloud services – because they want things that are easy, fast, and help them innovate. For a cloud to win, it needs to make heroes out of developers.

Developers today often have to handle two environments – their IT environment, which is often VMware-based, often hosts a lot of the mission critical Tier 1 applications; and the public cloud environment, where they prefer to deploy net-new projects. This solves a big problem for them. From a services perspective, a lot of newer applications have functionality that relies on older applications or older application data. The VMware Cloud on AWS offering opens the possibility for a very simple lift-and-shift with near-guaranteed success, after which the fast network connectivity between AWS proper and the VMware offering means building mixed applications has never been easier.

Creating a scenario where developers might clamor for adoption of a VMware-based service, by virtue of its proximity to the AWS ecosystem, is a huge coup for VMware and AWS, as it creates advocates out of skeptics on both sides.

Enter Faction Managed VMware Cloud on AWS

This explains why we think this offering has a huge future – and why Faction is pushing hard to be the #1 Managed Cloud provider leveraging VMware Cloud on AWS. We are helping customers with strategy, assessment, design, implementation, and technical operations. We help manage, scale, and monitor workloads across their cloud environments, and assist in migration, backup and disaster recovery, and security.

We are the “red carpet” to VMware Cloud on AWS and hybrid and multi-cloud in general (especially since we basically invented that), and since we have a lot of expertise in solving for edge cases, we are the number one partner to help customers adopt VMware Cloud on AWS and get around any “rough edges” that impact them – be that network connectivity challenges, the limited storage options, or requirements for services like proximate colocation, managed backup and recovery, managed security, and so on. We can even help organizations understand how to maintain both a VMware Cloud on AWS footprint and an AWS footprint, and use devops practices to scale each.

Let us know your thoughts, and how we can help!