Enterprises have embraced the cloud over the last decade. And now one cloud just isn't enough.
Flexera's 2021 State of the Cloud survey found that 92% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy with the majority opting for a hybrid architecture split between private and public cloud infrastructure. In fact, most organizations split their workloads across two to three public and private environments.
The specific reasons for this aren't clear. It may be that developers and IT teams shop for reasonably priced services that best match a particular application's requirements. And the pandemic likely pushed organizations to accelerate their move to flexible, demand-based cloud services.
Once CFOs made it clear they prefer usage-based pricing, HPE introduced GreenLake, which repackages infrastructure hardware, software and support services into an as-a-service bundle. HPE isn't alone. Cisco Plus, Dell Apex, Pure Storage and other HPE competitors have followed suit.
Let's compare the HPE GreenLake suite of services with AWS Outposts, Amazon's on-premises cloud platform, to see how the two differ.
HPE GreenLake combines hardware, such as ProLiant servers or Nimble storage, with software, such as a management console. It also involves services such as the HPE Pointnext for hybrid, edge and AI infrastructure.
As with any anything as a service (XaaS) product, GreenLake spreads infrastructure payments over time, but it differs from traditional leasing arrangements in two ways. First, HPE owns, manages and maintains the equipment at the customer's private data center, edge location or colocation rack. Thus, when hardware needs to be replaced or software requires an update, HPE does the work.
Secondly, HPE bases monthly charges on resource usage, such as active storage capacity, active servers or VMs and memory usage. Initial GreenLake orders are based on capacity estimates using a self-service online tool or via an HPE workload and requirements assessment.
Although GreenLake doesn't cover HPE's entire portfolio, it provides significant flexibility for the selection of equipment and configuration. GreenLake customers will need a variety of software, including:
- abroad set of cloudlike services, such as servers, machine learning (ML) models, VMs and containers;
- a central management portal for all GreenLake resources to handle provisioning and configuration of VMs, containers and ML projects via a self-service GUI;
- buffered capacity for rapid scaling to accommodate workload spikes;
- collection, aggregation and analysis of metrics for resource consumption;
- capacity planning and forecasting software with the ability to increase and decrease resource capacity as needed;
- governance, risk management and compliance controls to identify and remediate compliance risks and violations, streamline audits and report compliance KPIs; and
- support for third-party applications such as Nutanix Era for database management software or containerized software on the Ezmeral marketplace.
GreenLake works on a consumption-based model, which allows customers to rapidly grow and shrink capacity in response to measured usage. There's no large upfront price. And, as a SaaS-like product with billing based on usage, there's no fixed lease with predetermined payments. While the GreenLake gear is owned and operated by HPE, the customer controls configurations and security policies.
If GreenLake turns traditional IT software and equipment into a private cloud service, AWS Outposts does the opposite: It brings a subset of public cloud services to private, on-premises infrastructure. Like GreenLake, Outposts features vendor-owned and managed equipment that runs select AWS services, including:
- EC2 general-purpose (M5), compute (C5), memory (R5), graphics (G4dn) and I/O optimized (I3en) instances;
- Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) and Amazon S3 object storage with support for EBS snapshots and CloudEndure disaster recovery;
- Amazon Virtual Private Cloud networking with a local gateway, VPN gateway and support for application load balancer;
- Amazon's Elastic Container Service and Elastic Kubernetes Service container managers;
- relational databases (SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL) and ElastiCache; and
- Elastic MapReduce and related Hadoop applications such as Spark, Hive and Presto.
The initial manifestation of Outposts was available only in a 42U rack, although it does not need to be fully populated. AWS has since introduced 1U and 2U models. The full-rack design includes redundant top-of-rack switches, power distribution units and redundant capacity for high availability.
Outposts resources are managed alongside existing AWS services via its management console, but it also supports AWS Resource Access Manager, through which Outposts can share resources across multiple accounts.
While GreenLake requires customers to submit a proposed configuration in order to obtain a price estimate, Outposts pricing is fairly standardized, with small, two-instance installations starting at about $5,000 per month. For Outposts customers, EBS starts at 30 cents per gigabyte, per month, while S3 is 10 cents per gigabyte, per month.
Compare GreenLake vs. Outposts
While GreenLake and Outposts have a similar set of features, they differ in one significant way: Outposts is tied to the AWS cloud stack, while GreenLake supports any software stack a customer chooses. Therein lies the primary decision factor for organizations that consider these managed private cloud offerings.
Outposts is ideal for organizations that are already committed to AWS and would like to run legacy applications on private systems within an on-premises or other private facility.
GreenLake, meanwhile, is best for organizations that already use HPE equipment but would like a managed service with usage-based billing. It is a good fit for organizations with a long-term commitment to on-premises infrastructure and aren't aggressively moving new and existing applications to the public cloud.
Outposts is a tightly integrated hybrid cloud product. It provides the same set of services on premises and in the cloud. In contrast, GreenLake does not address the public cloud element of the hybrid model.
While it can work with various public clouds, GreenLake itself won't provide the single management UI and seamless ability to provision workloads on dedicated and shared infrastructure. This distinguishes GreenLake from Outposts and Azure Stack.