The cloud giant will go up against the likes of Cisco, HPE and Dell EMC on-premise. Still, questions remain.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

September 17, 2019

3 Min Read
Cloud Computing

Amazon Web Services is preparing to launch Outposts, its foray into the world of hybrid cloud announced at last year’s re:Invent conference.

By all accounts, Outposts should be available soon. A Sept. 11 blog from Matt Garman, vice president of AWS Compute Services, cites late 2019 as the release date.

AWS Outposts will serve as Amazon’s on-premises cloud product, yet rented as a service, going up against the likes of Cisco, HPE and Dell EMC. The packaging includes a large server rack, delivered already assembled, with managed services, including constant connectivity to the AWS cloud, provided by AWS. There also will be a VMware version of AWS Outposts.

Supported Amazon EC2 instances will include C5, M5, R5, I3en and G4, both with and without local storage options, and Amazon EBS volumes locally.

“You can also run a wide range of AWS services locally on Outposts,” Garman wrote. “At general availability, AWS services supported locally on Outposts will include Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS clusters for container-based applications, Amazon EMR clusters for data analytics, and Amazon RDS instances for relational database services.”

Additional services including Amazon SageMaker and Amazon MSK will arrive later.

AWS and VMware partners will be able to sell Outposts; however, AWS technicians will perform all installation and maintenance until AWS feels comfortable with its resellers, MSPs and other indirect channel partners replicating and handling those functions, a source with direct knowledge of the arrangement told Channel Futures on background.

Unanswered questions include how Amazon, a public cloud software specialist, will fare in the hardware world. Research firm Gartner shared its thoughts on the matter in a report, updated in April, titled, Prepare for AWS Outposts to Disrupt Your Hybrid Cloud Strategy.

“AWS Outposts is a signal to the market that Amazon believes owning the end-to-end enterprise customer relationship will require AWS to provide both a public cloud and an on-premises option,” wrote analysts David Wright, Jeffrey Hewitt and Henrique Cecci. “However, it is equally an indicator that AWS does not view the on-premises market in the same way as its competitors.”

As the analysts explain, that’s because AWS Outposts will be managed completely from the public cloud, “with no local control plane or administrative access and no ‘disconnected’ mode. Many AWS services will not run locally on the Outpost, but, instead, will be accessed remotely over the network from the Outpost.”

The key is that AWS is not trying to replicate the public cloud on-premises, Gartner’s experts write.

“Rather, [AWS] is trying to help customers address use cases that are not good candidates for the public cloud, while offering the standard AWS tools and management APIs as an integrated control plane across both environments.”

For partners assessing whether AWS Outposts may be a fit for some clients, analysts suggest investigating whether Outposts may support applications with low-latency LAN connectivity or direct access to local network storage better than AWS cloud environments.

And in the case of VMware for Outposts, specifically, because AWS will provide the hardware and VMware will supply the software and managed services, “the potential for multivendor support issues (for example, confusion and disputes around root-cause analysis and incident resolution) exists,” Gartner’s analysts wrote.

Another unanswered, important question relates to margins. Hardware margins are notoriously thin compared to software, where Amazon is accustomed to raking in the money. The industry is waiting to see how the cloud giant copes with that reality as Outposts comes to fruition.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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