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VMware Cloud

VMware on AWS: Architecture and Service Options

VMware Cloud on AWS is a cloud service based on VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF). It lets organizations migrate on-premises VMware virtualized environments to the public cloud, and run virtual machines on Amazon EC2 in a secure and scalable environment.

In this article, you will learn:

VMWare Cloud on AWS Architecture

VMware Cloud on AWS is based on vCenter, vSphere, vSAN, and the network virtualization platform, NSX. It was designed to run on dedicated infrastructure optimized by AWS for VMware technology.

The solution enables organizations to manage resources on AWS using familiar tools from the VMware environment, and easily migrate local workloads to AWS. It also provides seamless integration with other Amazon services, like S3, Redshift and DynamoDB.

VMware Cloud on AWSSource: AWS

The basic entity of the solution is a software defined data center (SDDC). Components of the SDDC are detailed below.


SDDC clusters can contain up to 10 vSphere clusters with 4 to 32 hosts each. Each physical host is equipped with 512 GB memory and two Intel Xeon E5-2686 processors with 18 cores per socket (total of 72 threads per host). Users can add hosts through an administrative interface or via API.


SDDC clusters use a VMware Virtual SAN (vSAN) with an all-flash configuration for storage. ESXi hosts use NVMe flash storage. An ESXi host cluster with 4 or more vSAN drives provides about 21 TB of usable storage and can protect all virtual machines from a single host failure. Data at rest is encrypted automatically, and users can utilize Storage Policy Based Management (SPBM) to manage virtual disks.


The SDDC cluster manages networking via VMware NSX, a platform that creates multi-tier virtual networks, and enables separation of network resources from physical equipment. This enables VMware Cloud on AWS users to create logical, software defined networks. Each cluster has two standard logical networks: one for the management layer and the other for computing workloads.

Communication between logical networks takes place through gateways. NSX provides a management gateway based on NSX Edge technology, which provides access to vCenter Server. The management gateway supports IPSEC VPN and DNS, and can also be protected by firewall rules. A customer gateway, also based on NSX Edge, provides a distributed logical router, managing both ingress traffic and egress traffic.

High Availability

The SDDC cluster supports high availability via VMware vSphere High Availability.

If a host fails, workloads perform failover to another available host, and VMs are restarted on the standby host. VMware vSphere also handles healing of failed instances.

Other VMware on AWS Services

Amazon offers additional services that support VMware technology, all based on or integrating with the VMware Cloud on AWS platform.

VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts creates a software defined data center (SDDC) with VMware technologies including vCenter, vSAN, vSphere, and NSX. This enables running workloads on a consistent hardware stack, both on-premises and in the public cloud.

Key features include:

  • Hybrid cloud that integrates with your existing vSphere environment.
  • Available on AWS Nitro-based EC2 instances with vSphere features like high availability, vMotion, DRS, and self-healing.
  • Improved storage utilization vSAN and AWS storage technology.
  • Support for ISV partner solutions for different types of ecosystems.
  • VMware provides automated repairs, updates, and upgrades to VMware SDDC.
  • Amazon provides support for any hardware-related issue, as well as shipping, installation and configuration.

Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) on VMware

RDS on VMware lets organizations deploy databases in a hybrid configuration, inside an SDDC, and migrate them easily from an on-premises VMware environment to the Amazon cloud. RDS on VMware provides automated management of the database both on-premises and in the cloud, with the same familiar RDS features. Like the regular RDS service, RDS on VMware supports SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, and MariaDB.

VMware Site Recovery on AWS

VMware Cloud on AWS provides the Site Recovery Manager (SRM). VMware Site Recovery protects your cloud applications from failure by automating replication, orchestration and backup on AWS.

It has two key features:

  • Multi-site topology—organizations can run one VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC in multiple locations, to consolidate resources and reduce costs.
  • One-click deployment—Site Recovery Manager provides one-step testing of connectivity from the local center to AWS, and instant deployment of backup policies and schedules for local workloads.

VMware on AWS with NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP

NetApp Cloud Volumes ONTAP, the leading enterprise-grade storage management solution, delivers secure, proven storage management services on AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports up to a capacity of 368TB, and supports various use cases such as file services, databases, DevOps or any other enterprise workload, with a strong set of features including high availability, data protection, storage efficiencies, Kubernetes integration, and more.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP supports advanced features for managing SAN storage in the cloud, catering for cloud-based database systems, as well as cloud file shares.

Cloud Volumes ONTAP provides high availability, ensuring business continuity with no data loss (RPO=0) and minimal recovery times (RTO < 60 secs).

Learn more about how Cloud Volumes ONTAP helps to address the challenges of VMware Cloud, and read here about our VMware Cloud Case Studies with Cloud Volumes ONTAP.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager