One of the biggest challenges for AWS has been to adequately attract the massive, yet largely untapped, enterprise business. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is AWS’ focus on only offering a public cloud solution.
At this year’s annual AWS re:Invent event, Amazon Web Services was careful not to widely discuss the concepts of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud. AWS did, however, acknowledge that customers use both hybrid and multi-cloud. If you look further at what is available today along with what was announced, AWS’ hybrid cloud story not exists, but is quite impressive.
Before jumping into the AWS hybrid story, let me outline the lead up to this point.
LEADING UP TO THIS YEAR
In past years, AWS was hesitant to talk about either hybrid cloud nor multi-cloud. Even when asked, AWS would often point to migration technologies as their ‘hybrid cloud’ strategy. Unfortunately, this did not play well with enterprises that either could not or would not use public cloud exclusively.
As time went on, there was a growing reality setting in that enterprise customers were either a) not ready for full-on public cloud or b) could not leverage it due to geographical, technical or regulatory requirements. Up until last year, AWS was laser focused on customers using their public cloud solution. But over time, AWS could not ignore reality and, if they wanted to truly attract the massive untapped enterprise market, they needed a solution. Enter Outposts.
OUTPOSTS ESTABLISHES A FOOTHOLD
Last year at re:Invent, AWS announced the forthcoming Outposts private cloud solution. This year, AWS announced that Outposts is now available to order.
Outposts is essentially AWS in a private cloud form-factor that can run in your corporate data center but is managed by AWS. Outposts is a fully configured rack of AWS equipment and offered in two models: an AWS native version and VMware-based version.
Outposts is not the first product AWS put in the data center. That notation would go to AWS Snowball Edge. However, unlike Outposts that is intended to stay in the corporate data center and run workloads locally, Snowball Edge is really intended to run workloads that help facilitate onboarding data and applications to AWS public cloud.
The early versions of Outposts will carry the fundamental AWS services. Over time, AWS expects to better understand what customers need and make those services available via Outposts. It was quite refreshing to hear AWS acknowledge that they do not know how customers will fully use Outposts yet.
LOOKING BEYOND OUTPOSTS
Outposts is a significant opportunity for enterprises looking to leverage public cloud services, but not yet ready to make the leap. Beyond Outposts, AWS announced a couple of other solutions that address enterprise challenges.
AWS Local Zones fill the gap for those looking to leverage public cloud services but challenged by latency requirements to the closest public cloud availability zone. The first Local Zone will go live in Los Angeles and will appear as another ‘AZ’ in a given region.
AWS Wavelength builds on the intersection of AWS and 5G. Wavelength is based on Outposts and brings the AWS capability to the edge of the 5G network. By doing so, new 5G-based applications that are latency sensitive can leverage local, edge resources without having to traverse the network back to the local regional resources.
THE CIO PERSPECTIVE
Historically, AWS has been an enticing, but hard to reach opportunity for the enterprise. With the advent of Outposts, Local Zones and Wavelength, the AWS platform directly addresses a number of enterprise challenges. Does this fully fill the gaps? No. But the sheer fact that AWS now has solutions that bridge the gap from edge-to-cloud is quite impressive. It also signals AWS’ acknowledgement that not every workload nor customer is well suited for traditional public cloud services.
Enterprises that may have been challenged with the prospect of moving to traditional public cloud now have a ‘local’ option and more coming soon. In a nutshell, AWS has produced an impressive lineup that covers edge-to-cloud.