VMworld Europe 2017 is happening right now in the beautiful city of Barcelona. On Monday, before the official event commences, Partner Exchange takes place in the Fira Grand Via event center. I’ve scheduled some time to attend two sessions on VMware Cloud on AWS. In this article I will share what I’ve learned so far about this new offering, in a question/answer format. Read on when you want learn more, I will update this article throughout VMworld with new information. I will start with some basic questions, but will also include some more advanced topics in my article.
Q: VMware Cloud on AWS, what is it about?
A: VMware Cloud on AWS is new offering by VMware, offering the VMware SDDC as a service. Based on VMware technology, running on AWS bare-metal servers.
Q: SDDC as a service, sounds cool. Which VMware products are part of the offering?
A: VMware Cloud on AWS is based on vSphere, NSX and vSAN. Actually it’s VMware Cloud Foundation that is used. Although the products in the vRealize Suite (vRealize Automation/Orchestrator, vRealize Operations/LogInsight, vRealize Business) are part of the SDDC architecture, the’re not included in the VMware Cloud on AWS offering.
Q: What are the advantages of this solution compared to regular IaaS services offered by, for example, Amazon?
A: So, with VMware Cloud on AWS (#VMConAWS) you’re consuming a VMware SDDC as a service. You have access to a management interface as well as access to the vCenter Server that is managing the environment. So things are very familiar for a vSphere admin. With regular IaaS (VM) services, for example Amazon’s EC2, you’re running Amazon VM’s (AMI’s) on Amazon native hypervisor. So with VMConAWS you have operational consistency if compared with a “traditional” vSphere environment and, you can also use your existing skills and tools to manage the environment. Because it’s just vSphere, it’s no problem to migrate existing vSphere VM’s to VMConAWS.
Q: Who’s providing this service?
A: VMConAWS is build, maintained and operated by VMware. The bare metal servers are provided by Amazon. To successfully operate VMConAWS environment you will both need a MyVMware- as well as a Amazon account.
Q: What are the use cases?
A: Right now VMware sees three use cases:
- Maintain/Expand your environment;
- Consolidate and migrate;
- Workload flexibility.
Q: Do you have some more information on the stuff that is initially deployed?
A: Of course :). VMConAWS always starts with a minimum of 4 hosts. Each hosts has 2 CPUs, 36 cores, 72 hyper-threads, 512 GB RAM and 14.3 TB of storage.
Q: Is that 14.3 TB net storage capacity?
A: This 14.3 TB raw storage. First of all 3.6 TB is reserved for caching, so you will end up with 10.7 TB for the raw capacity tier (per host). The actual net storage capacity depends on the configured vSAN storage policies. Policies like number of failures to tolerate and object space reservation will influence the actual storage consumption. By the way, a VSAN storage policy is not a global VSAN setting; the policy can be attached to a (group of) VM(s).
Q: So, the minimum number of hosts is 4, what’s the maximum?
A: The maximum is 16 per SDDC environment. But you can deploy as many SDDC’s as you want!
Q: Okay, and you’re paying for the ESXi hosts and not for the number of VMs. What is the number of VMs that you can run on a VMConAWS ESXi host?
A: Of course that all depends, but it’s expected you can run somewhere between 50 and 400 VMs on each ESXi host.
Q: What are my billing options?
A: You can consume VMConAWS as a on-demand service, but there are also 1 and 3 year contract options. More information on pricing here.
Q: What are my options when I want to connect my on premises environment to VMConAWS?
A: Right now the only option is a VPN connection. But it’s expected that you leverage Amazon direct connect in the future, with direct connect one could leverage 1 Gbit and 10 Gbit dedicated line speeds.
Q: And when I want to connect to (existing) resources on AWS?
A: You can directly connect to AWS network and (for example) connect to existing EC2 VMs. East-west traffic between VMConAWS and regular AWS services comes at no extra cost, as long as you’re connecting to resources in the same availability zone.
Q: Because VMConAWS is leveraging both vSAN and NSX, do I need to know these technologies on top of my vSphere expertise?
A: I would say yes, but specifically for NSX a simple mode option is available. In this mode you can set the essential networking options. Do you want more? You can switch to advanced mode and you will presented with the standard (advanced) NSX UI. Note: this is a one time switch, after switching to advanced mode you cannot go back to standard mode.
Q: On what version of vSphere is VMConAWS running?
A: Currently vSphere 6.5 is used.
Q: I’m a real pro when it comes to vSphere, do I have full access to my VMConAWS environment?
A: You can do a lot, but you cannot get root access on the ESXi hosts. It’s also not possible to install VIBs on the ESXi hosts, and you don’t have configuration access to the distributed virtual switches. You also have no direct management VMs and Edge access.
Q: I’ve heard about elastic DRS, what’s that?
A: Elastic DRS is used for two cases: you can choose to automatically add new hosts to your SDDC when you run out of capacity. In case of a host failure, elastic DRS is used to automatically replace the failed host. On top of this, elastic DRS is of course also executing regular DRS tasks.
Q: When it comes to the management VMs (e.g. vCenter, NSX manager) that are required to run my VMConAWS environment, where are these VMs running?
A: In case you were wondering, there’s no management cluster available. The management VMs are just running in your SDDC environment consuming some of your resources. The management VMs run in a seperate resource pool, which guarantees resource availability.
Q: In which (Amazon) regions is VMConAWS available?
A: Currently VMConAWS is only available in Oregon. Other regions, including EMEA and APAC will follow.
Q: I’m planning to run Windows VMs on VMConAWS. What are my licensing options?
A: Currently SPLA (Services Provider License Agreement) licensing is not offered. You can leverage your regular Window licenses because you’re using dedicated hosts in VMConAWS. Things are of course depending and the agreement you have with Microsoft.
Okay that’s it for now; I will update this article throughout VMworld. For more questions with answers, read the official FAQ here.