VMware to Expand AWS Cloud Offering with Managed VMware Cloud Flex Storage

VMware’s long-term strategy is to extend the service to other clouds.

Jeffrey Schwartz

March 29, 2022

4 Min Read
VMware Cloud Flex Storage

VMware plans to offer a managed storage and data management service called VMware Cloud Flex Storage. The storage as-a-service offering, revealed on Tuesday, is a two-tier, Log-structure File System (LFS) running in VMware Cloud on AWS.

While VMware hasn’t determined a release date, the company launched an early access preview available by invitation only. The private preview will be available to select customers – not partners – who will get access closer to the launch date.

Until recently, adding storage to VMware Cloud on AWS required provisioning more vSAN capacity, VMware’s hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). A new option arrived in January when AWS, NetApp and VMware launched Amazon FSx for VMware Cloud on AWS. The managed storage service runs NetApp ONTAP file systems in AWS, providing access to iSCSI, NFS and SMB storage volumes. Managed storage services promise to offer a lower-cost alternative to adding more hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) capacity in AWS.

Use Cases

Key use cases for VMware Cloud Flex Storage include lift-and-shift cloud migration, elastic data center expansion and VMware vSAN scaling. VMware built the new Cloud Flex Storage service with the same filesystem used for its VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery Service. Both are extensions of the DHCI storage file system VMware gained from its 2020 acquisition of Datrium.

VMware Cloud Flex Storage will be a consumption-based service, said VMware head of cloud storage and data marketing Mark Chuang.

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“We will be offering it in pay-as-you-consume models, striving to keep the pricing metrics as simple and aligned to consumption taking advantage of the elasticity and the scalability that exists in the cloud,” Chuang told Channel Futures.

Marc Fleischmann, VMware Cloud CTO, announced Cloud Flex Storage on the VMware vSAN Virtual Blocks blog.


VMware’s Mark Fleischmann

“VMware Cloud Flex Storage intelligently combines cloud-native abstractions to deliver exceptional performance and cost across traditional and modern workloads,” Fleischmann explained. “With just a few clicks in the VMware Cloud Services Console, customers can scale their storage environment without adding hosts, and elastically adjust their storage capacity up or down as needed, for every application. Customers also benefit from a simple pay-as-you-go consumption model.”

Launching via VMware Cloud on AWS

Like the DRaaS offering, the VMware Cloud Flex Storage service initially will be available through VMware Cloud on AWS.

“It’ll be a VMware-delivered, natively integrated service,” Chuang said. “It will serve as supplemental storage that augments the existing vSAN primary storage within the VMware Cloud on AWS cluster.”

VMware Cloud on AWS customers who have used the VMware Cloud Disaster Recovery Service signaled they wanted a cloud storage service as well, Chuang noted.

“One of the things they highlighted to us was an ability to scale the storage capacity independent of the compute capacity,” he said. “We heard strong interest in that and that absolutely was a motivator for us to bring this to market.”

VMware’s long-term strategy is to extend the service to other clouds.

“Our vision is for this offering to support multicloud,” Chuang said. “But when we say multicloud, it can be the work we’re doing with hyperscalers, it could be native public clouds or on-premises data centers, whether it’s co-lo or owned and run by the customer, or whether it’s the edge, we believe there’s opportunity is there for particular applications across all of these.”

2-Tier File System

The service’s two-tier design uses the NVMe drives in VMware vSAN for cache and operations requiring high-performance storage. But it can take advantage of cloud-based object storage at the capacity tier. Chuang emphasized that the service’s file system is based on LFS, which was first implemented by VMware co-founder Mendel Rosenblum.

“This log structure file system enables us to have very rapid snapshots, instant cloning, and the data there is immutable, which initially made it very, very suitable for disaster recovery and ransomware recovery,” Chuang said. “But there are a lot of benefits there as well in regard to being able to address a wide spectrum of use cases including this cloud storage as-a-service offering.”

VMware will provide a disaggregated storage solution to participants in the early access program, VMware Cloud CTO Fleischmann noted. This will let them “independently provision and scale storage capacity external to the VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC hosts.”

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Jeffrey Schwartz or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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