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Bridge the VMware and AWS hybrid cloud gap

Integration is a common challenge when deploying hybrid cloud -- and bridging VMware and AWS is no exception. Luckily, the right mix of tools can help.

Wanting the best of both public and private cloud, enterprise IT teams are increasingly pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy. As they do, many will likely attempt to bridge their VMware-based private clouds to public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services. And while the two companies have different cloud strategies, there are certain tools and steps that can help IT pros link them together.

VMware and AWS: Two different hybrid cloud views

VMware and Amazon Web Services (AWS) appear to have different long-term views for cloud. While Microsoft Azure or Rackspace delve deeper into the private cloud market, it appears AWS will remain fully committed to public cloud.

On the other hand, VMware's cloud management and cluster virtualization technology points to the company maintaining a strong focus on on-premises IT. This may have stemmed from VMware's vCloud Air, which struggled to compete against the top three public cloud players -- AWS, Azure and Google. In October, VMware's parent company EMC said it planned to merge its Virtustream unit with vCloud Air. But that deal came apart with the announcement of the Dell acquisition.

Still, AWS is the largest public cloud provider and VMware has its huge install base of virtualized systems. The marriage of the two technologies is likely to be popular, so it's worth exploring how to simplify VMware and AWS integration.

Key tools for building a VMware and AWS hybrid cloud

Both VMware and AWS have taken steps to make their products easier to implement together, simplifying and deduplicating management tasks to reduce errors and extra work.

However, using VMware and AWS together often implies an "either/or" management approach. With all the questions surrounding vCloud Air, VMware seems focused on extending vSphere and vRealize to manage the public cloud, while protecting the private cloud segment from absorption into public clouds. AWS, on the other hand, is looking for ways to bridge networks and data across cloud boundaries, making its interface transparent and easing long-term transition to its cloud.

Both VMware and AWS have taken steps to make their products easier to implement together, simplifying and deduplicating management tasks to reduce errors and extra work.

AWS addresses networking with its Virtual Private Cloud, which controls logically isolated networks. AWS' Direct Connect can help organizations bridge the AWS cloud and their data center or colocation facility. IT teams can install the AWS Storage Gateway software on a data center server to create a caching gateway that can be mounted as an Internet small computing system interface device.

AWS Identity and Access Management provides cross-boundary security for identity federation, and AWS Directory Service can link to an in-house Microsoft Active Directory. AWS OpsWorks provides application management, and can be integrated with AWS CloudWatch to provide instance scaling across a hybrid cloud, while AWS CodeDeploy automates updates across both public and private infrastructure. For image migration between VMware and AWS environments, AWS' VM Import/Export service translates images between AWS Elastic Compute Cloud instances and on-premises VMs. IT teams can also install an AWS Management Portal for vCenter in the vSphere Client.

What VMware brings to the table

VMware vCenter Server provides clustering and load balancing in the virtualized pool, which is a crucial step in evolving virtualization toward a private cloud. VShield adds the security environment and vCenter Chargeback creates a pay-for-what-you-use system.

VMware has extended its vRealize cloud management suite to support AWS resources, while vCloud Director connects the different cloud elements together. VRealize orchestrates capacity and provisions instances. It also supports automation policies; one useful feature can help IT teams compare operating costs for jobs between public and private clouds.

VMware's efforts around AWS integration are still new and evolving. EMC, meanwhile, just unveiled Native Hybrid Cloud, a cloud application development platform based on Pivotal's Cloud Foundry and VCE hyper-converged systems. EMC said Native Hybrid Cloud will support integration with AWS and Azure, as well as Virtustream.

There are also third-party tools that can help organizations bridge a VMware and AWS hybrid cloud. Companies like CTERA, CloudBerry Lab, Okta, Splunk, Puppet, Chef, F5 Networks and Level 3 Communications all help with hybrid deployment. Ravello Systems has a tool that makes the AWS cloud look like x86 hardware to enable VMware ESXi deployment, which could be useful to test vSphere upgrades.

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