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Extending vSphere to the Public cloud

  Mark Gabryjelski     Aug 02, 2018

VMware-vSphere-Public-CloudVMware’s vSphere, the composition of vCenter and its ESXi hosts used to run workloads and containers, has experienced dominance in the IT landscape. There has been talk for years about extending a vSphere environment into the world of public cloud and not being required to run all of this separately through other means. There are many ways to achieve a cloud strategy, and fortunately, VMware accomplishes all of this with vSphere. This post focuses on one of the ways to achieve this type of public cloud strategy with VMware Cloud, which offers VMware on Amazon Web Services (AWS). This is a full SDDC (Software Defined Data Center) offering covering compute, storage, and networking capabilities.

Connecting vSphere with the Public Cloud

Most people do not realize it is possible to extend vSphere into a public cloud environment because of the lack of conversation surrounding it. Approximately only 20-30% of customers are aware of this and the ones that do know about this are organizations that are researching thoroughly and asking questions about different solution offerings and capabilities. When this does get brought up with customers we often find that they are already using AWS as part of their networking strategy. They see that the vSphere workloads they have now are very similar to their AWS workloads and that alone seems really attractive because of the possibility of cost optimization. Once that discovery is made and the conversation with an IT partner verifies that vSphere can be extended into the public cloud as simply as any other cloud strategy, we see those 'eureka moments' with adoption soon following.

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When organizations run VMs or their workloads, what they really want is to have another location to host their networks. If they are looking to reinforce a hybrid cloud strategy, this method supports that. If they need to have a DR solution without setting up another DR site, this supports that. If IT decision makers heard about VDI on AWS and Azure from VMware and want to explore that, vSphere supports this as well in the public cloud.

Benefits of this Strategy

Adopting a strategy where vSphere can be extended into a public cloud environment welcomes opportunities to support Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). With vSphere in the public cloud, you get the support you need, when you need it. VMware has an abundance of offerings that extend into the public cloud. There are also numerous other benefits, such as:

CapEx vs. OpEx: Utilizing a vSphere strategy allows organizations to determine if the IT spend should be CapEx or OpEx. The CFO can determine the preferred manner in which to enable the organization, and the technology is not a roadblock to a preferred accounting ledger.

Automation: Different public cloud providers have different names and explanations on how exactly their services are provided, but this really comes down to getting VMs as a service. Those providers are going to manage the vCenter, the ESXi servers, and the NSX integration on their side of the world. This way, organizations do not have to worry about the hardware and all they have to do is spin out VMs. It shows up in our normal, day to day on-premises vCenter interface and we can see that integration there in one place.

Another major automation benefit of extending vSphere into the public cloud is when it realizes a node has failed, a new node is provisioned within 30 minutes. Without this capability, you would have to:

  • Go through everything
  • Realize the node died
  • Troubleshoot the node
  • Call in for support
  • Wait for your support contact team
  • Get all the new gear in
  • Build it up yourself
  • Make sure everything is running
  • Wait for it all to normalize

With a cloud provider, all that becomes their responsibility. Many find this perk as a primary motivator to invest in this type of strategy.

Scalability (elastic workloads): This offering scales pretty high. We can get one VM on AWS to support 320 ESXi servers, for example. That's more than most people have in a production environment, so it's pretty flexible from that perspective. It is easy to set up and easy to manage. It's easy to scale up and down too. There is a four node minimum, but there's nothing to stop you from extending that. It's just as easy to go from four nodes up to 16 nodes. Maybe that's what you need to run your workload for a while, but at the end of the month when you're done you can scale it back from 16 nodes down to the four. It is absolutely easy to do that as well. Trying to do something like this in a traditional data center is nearly impossible. If you need that flexibility, you have to spend a lot of money and time going through procurement to be able to do it on-premises.

Hybrid Cloud Support: If organizations have a hybrid cloud strategy in AWS, they can have vSphere workloads and AWS workloads relatively close to each other. They can remove the cost around communicating from AWS workloads to an external internet based application. That reduces overall networking costs. This strategy provides the network optimization and locality of their data that organizations pushing a hybrid cloud strategy are seeking.

Use Cases

Organizations can obtain a significant amount of value from a strategy like this. For instance, an organization with consistent data usage and IT needs year round would most likely be better off with an on-premises data center and private cloud strategy. An organization with altering needs for IT capabilities might be better suited for a public cloud due to its scalability. Many retailers receive an influx of business from the holiday season. Companies also have their own offerings that boost business during certain times of the year, such as Amazon’s Prime Day. In order to be able to support this extra business, they can quickly and easily scale up the amount of ESXi hosts for the needed time period. Then when that period ends and business slows to its normal pace, those organizations can scale back down the number of workloads used. Instead of paying for the maximum number of hosts year round, those extra hosts can be, in a sense, rented for the time being. This alone can save organizations millions.


We constantly hear from organizations who want to make sure their data center strategy is inclusive of hybrid cloud because this is the direction IT strategies are heading in, and we agree. If you can have it integrate with your corporate enterprise and have it as secure as your data center, why not give it a go? The toughest part is identifying the appropriate workloads to run in which part of your hybrid cloud—and that's where the sophisticated staff at WEI can help organizations on their journey to a smarter, more cost-effective IT strategy.

Next Steps: Learn more about taking advantage of a hybrid cloud strategy by downloading the whitepaper, “How Hybrid Cloud Can Launch Your Digital Transformation.”

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Tags  cloud strategy public cloud hybrid cloud VMware Amazon AWS vSphere

Mark Gabryjelski

Written by Mark Gabryjelski

Mark Gabryjelski, VCDX #23, leads up the Virtualization Practice here at WEI where he identifies, validates, and introduces new technologies that our customers can use to simplify and control their data center operations. Mark works with clients across all industries in the design, implementation and support of solutions that enable our customers’ consumption of virtualization technologies. Mark is an author and also conducts several of the customer training sessions in the WEI Knowledge Transfer Center (KTC).

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