AWS says Outposts is ready to ship

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Andy Jassy, AWS CEO.
Andy Jassy, AWS CEO.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy announced a slew of new products at the company’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas this week, including the general availability of its Outposts offering for the corporate data centre, as well as AWS Local Zones, which places compute, storage and database services closer to those who need them.

AWS Outposts, a managed rack of AWS’s own hardware that lets customers run their workloads on-premises, while connecting to its services in the cloud, is in general release.

Jassy said humanity is now in the early stages of the most titanic technology shift ever seen.

He believes relatively few companies will have their own data centres in the future, and those that do will have a much smaller footprint than today. While this shift to cloud may take a decade or more, there will still be companies that will need to have their workloads running on-premises. This could be because some workloads are particularly latency-sensitive and can’t be moved out of the data centre, such as workloads supporting manufacturing control systems, high-frequency stock trading platforms, or those delivering network functions virtualisation services at telcos, for example.

This was the genesis of AWS Outposts, an extension of a customer's virtual private cloud in the nearest AWS region to the customer.

Now, a client can choose to install an Outposts rack in its own data centre, which provides a managed and configurable compute and storage rack.

AWS announced its Outposts offering a year ago, and it can now be ordered.

The Outposts hardware is the same as that which the company uses in its own data centres, but includes extra security devices. The rack arrives assembled, and is rolled into the customer's data centre on castors. AWS technicians will work with the customer to connect the rack and power it up. The rack will also connect with many AWS services that customers now use in the AWS or VMware cloud. These include its EC2 Elastic Compute Cloud, block storage, Elastic Kubernetes Service, among many others. It can also connect to regional services such as Amazon Simple Storage Service buckets.

The company also said it would be responsible for all maintenance, as well as the updating and patching of the infrastructure.

Matt Garman, VP of compute services at AWS, said when it started to consider offering a consistent hybrid cloud experience, its customers said it wanted it to be the same as their public cloud experience – the same control plane and tools, the same hardware and functionality.

“It turns out this is hard to do, and that’s the reason why existing options for on-premises solutions haven’t gotten much traction today,” said Garman.

“With AWS Outposts, customers can enjoy a truly consistent cloud environment using the native AWS services or VMware Cloud on AWS to operate a single enterprise IT environment across their on-premises locations and the cloud.”

Local Zones

AWS also announced the availability of its first ‘Local Zones’, initially available in Los Angeles. This new service places compute, storage, database and other services closer to developers, who can then deploy applications that need ultra-low, single-digit millisecond latency.

Local Zones will provide customers with a high-bandwidth and secure connection to their local workloads and those in the local region.

“Customers are excited about AWS Outposts because it gives them on-premises access to AWS compute, storage and database with the same APIs, control plane, tools and hardware as they get in AWS Regions. But, for some of our customers, they either don’t have an on-premises data centre or want to get rid of their local data centre, but still have a need for some of their workloads to run locally-given latency requirements,” said Peter DeSantis, VP of AWS global infrastructure.

“AWS Local Zones solve this problem. They allow customers to avoid having local data centres, let them run the workloads in the Local Zone that needs to have single-digit latency to end-users locally, and make it easy for these workloads to seamlessly connect with the rest of their applications running in AWS Regions.”

More Zones are expected to follow.

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