AWS Outposts — Part 1. General, Economics, Ordering process.

As per AWS’ documentation:

(most of the italic text in this post refers to AWS documentation or external sources)

AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that offers the same AWS infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools to virtually any datacenter, co-location space, or on-premises facility for a truly consistent hybrid experience. AWS Outposts is ideal for workloads that require low latency access to on-premises systems, local data processing, data residency, and migration of applications with local system interdependencies.

AWS Outpost comes in 2 Variants:

  1. AWS Native

“Outposts is available as a 42U rack that can scale from 1 rack to 96 racks to create pools of compute and storage capacity. Coming in 2021, Outposts will be available in two smaller form factors, 1U and 2U rack-mountable servers for locations with limited space or capacity requirements. More information on the smaller Outposts form factors is available here.”

2. VMware variant (coming 2021)

“A VMware variant of AWS Outposts will also be available soon. VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts delivers a fully managed VMware Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) running on AWS Outposts infrastructure on premises.”

Why Outpost vs Snowball

  • Snowball Edge is designed for environments with bad to no connectivity (cruise ships, remote locations, restricted locations)
  • Outposts is targeting on-premises, connected environments.

AWS Outposts potential customers

  • Institutions which do not want to invest much in entry level technical personnel
  • Enterprises, which have heavy presence in AWS, but still need to maintain local workloads due to various reasons
  • Companies which needs global access — telecom, broadcasting
  • Manufacturing (IOT, Data Analytics, CAD, ML etc.)
  • Financial services, healthcare -probably fit to one of the first 2 categories

Good research from Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/patrickmoorhead/2019/09/16/aws-gives-us-a-deeper-dive-into-outposts-and-its-looking-good/?sh=6be94dfe388a

According to 451 Research, LLC report 59% of Enterprises are looking to one of on-prem cloud solutions — AWS Outposts, Azure Stack, GKE On-Prem, IBM Bluebox. Additional resources and case studies can be found here.

Pricing

Outposts is available as a 42U rack that can scale from 1 rack to 96 racks to create pools of compute and storage capacity. Coming in 2021, Outposts will be available in two smaller form factors, 1U and 2U rack-mountable servers for locations with limited space or capacity requirements. More information on the smaller Outposts form factors is available here.

You can purchase Outposts capacity for a 3-year term and choose between three payment options: All Upfront, Partial Upfront, and No Upfront. If you choose the Partial or No Upfront payment option, the monthly charges will be due over the 3-year term. Any upfront and monthly charge will apply 24 hours after installation when your Outposts capacity becomes available for launching instances.”

Pro et Contra: Presentation is based on 42U racks — with new offering coming in 2021 for 1U,2U units some Contra arguments are going to become obsolete, some new may come up.

Pro:

  • Besides general benefits covered in another Forbes article there are monetary values in AWS Outposts offering.

Matt Garman, AWS compute services’ VP, says Outposts “is a fully managed service; the physical infrastructure is delivered and installed by AWS, operated and monitored by AWS, and automatically updated and patched as part of being connected to an AWS Region.”

  • It will save hardware support contract with vendor, after standard support expires usually 1 year, or with 3rd party hardware support — $XX-$XX per/mo per server
  • If organization is heavily on AWS cloud, it is logical choice to switch to EC2 virtualization from VMware, as it is provides cost saving on VMmare licensing — $XXX per/mo per server — Vsphere Standard (3 years lifetime), and vCenter license $XXXX
  • Hardware cost (example General purpose mid range instance) 192 cores without HyperThreading, 768 GB memory

Similar configuration PowerEdge R840 Rack Server will cost approximate $XXXXX-$XXXXX each — and at least 2 servers

  • Potential saving during growth 1 SysAdmin position $XXXXX-$XXXXX per/year
  • Full support from AWS for Outposts hardware and firmware

Note: Adjust numbers to your specific case and calculate

  • Enterprise Support, which provides 24x7 remote support within 15 mins.

Contra:

  • Requires AWS Enterprise support — min $15000 monthly, in case company is not already on Enterprise Support plan
  • Not all OSes are supported in AWS (Solaris, old Windows, SCO Unix etc)
  • Some licensing limitations, which requires dedicated host for existing licenses (Oracle etc.,)
  • Branches may require expensive networking upgrades to fully benefit Outposts.
  • Branches may require new AWS skilled personnel, or skills upgrade, if decoupled units are stepping in AWS.
  • If there are plans to use hardware beyond industry lifetime cycle Outposts is not a money saving option
  • Not available in all countries

Ordering AWS Outposts

Prerequisites

“Your site must support the basic power, networking and space requirements to host an Outpost. Outposts need 5–15 kVA, can support 1/10/40/100 Gbps uplinks, and space for a 42U rack (80” X 24” X 48” dimensions). As Outposts require reliable network connectivity to the AWS Region, you should plan for a public internet connection. Customers must have Enterprise Support, which provides 24x7 remote support within 15 mins.”

Ordering

Step 1: Create Outpost

“Log-in to the AWS Management Console. Select an Outpost configuration from a catalog of options that provide the EC2, EBS, and S3 capacity best suited for your application needs and site characteristics. You can also contact us to create a custom configuration if you are not able to find a configuration for your unique application needs.”

  • Create Site

Scroll down, to answer questions related to your facilities like space, power, networking

  • Create Outpost

Step 2: Order capacity

Select a configuration from the Outposts catalog and submit your order. AWS will deliver and install the Outpost at your site.

Step 3: Create subnet

  • Select Outpost
  • Select VPC and CIDR, click “Create”

Step 4: Launch instance

Click “Launch Instance” in Outposts Console and follow the standard EC2 creation procedure

Summary:

  • AWS Outposts is choice between saving money on hardware with old style IT processes, and spending more — assuming new skilled personnel is required , but speeding up innovation cycle. Ratio needs to be determined by HR and corresponding departments.
  • AWS Outposts is natural evolution of on-premises compute/storage resources, providing hybrid cloud options.
  • AWS Outposts with new upcoming 1U, 2U units will be targeting every company on the market and probably will remove Enterprise Support level requirement (My guess)
  • AWS Outposts 42U racks, potentially will bring also monetary value to Enterprise, besides tightly integrating on-premises and cloud, while providing data isolation and security.

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John Gakhokidze

John Gakhokidze

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