May 13, 2024

AWS Outposts: Enhancing On-Premises and Cloud Integration

AWS Outposts is a pioneering service offered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) that extends the renowned AWS infrastructure to virtually any data centre, co-location space, or on-premises facility. This service is specially designed for businesses that require close proximity of their data and applications due to needs for low latency, local data processing, or compliance with regulatory concerns.

What is AWS Outposts?

AWS Outposts is a fully managed service from Amazon Web Services (AWS) that extends the robust AWS infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools to virtually any data centre, co-location space, or on-premises facility. This service is designed for environments that need to keep their data and applications close due to low latency, local data processing requirements, or regulatory concerns.

How AWS Outposts Works

AWS Outposts brings AWS services closer to users by installing physical hardware at the user’s chosen site. This hardware is fully managed by AWS and connects directly to the nearest AWS Region. By providing a consistent hybrid experience, users can create and run applications on-premises, using the same AWS APIs they would use in the cloud. The seamless integration ensures that local systems can easily communicate with cloud services, enabling diverse scenarios from data processing to storage solutions.

Features of AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts stand out for their comprehensive feature set, which enables a hybrid cloud environment where businesses can seamlessly integrate on-premises infrastructure with cloud resources. These features are designed to support a wide range of applications and workloads, ensuring flexibility and performance consistency across different environments.

Hybrid Environment Support

AWS Outposts facilitate a hybrid setup where local and cloud environments operate under a unified architecture. This hybrid capability is crucial for organizations that require their applications to interact with both on-premises databases and cloud-based services without performance degradation. For instance, a media company could use AWS Outposts to run their content management systems on-premises, ensuring fast access and interaction with high-resolution media files, while still leveraging AWS cloud services for global distribution and analytics.

Consistent Performance Across Environments

By using the same AWS-designed hardware that is used in AWS Regions, Outposts ensure that workloads run with the same efficiency and capability, regardless of their deployment location. This consistency means that developers can write and deploy applications without worrying about varying performance standards or having to make environment-specific adjustments. A retail business, for example, could deploy a sales forecasting application that uses machine learning both in the cloud and on-premises, with assurance that the application’s performance will be consistent in both settings.

Support for AWS Services Locally

Outposts support several key AWS services locally, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). This local support allows businesses to leverage the robust capabilities of these services directly on-premises. For example, a financial institution could use Amazon EC2 on Outposts to handle sensitive financial transactions locally, ensuring compliance with regulations that require data to remain onsite, while still benefiting from the elasticity and resource availability of the cloud.

Flexibility with VMware Cloud on AWS and AWS Native Instances

AWS Outposts provide flexibility in deployment options, supporting both VMware Cloud on AWS and AWS native instances. This flexibility allows organizations to select the best environment for their specific operational needs and existing infrastructure. Companies already using VMware can continue to operate within their familiar management frameworks while gradually integrating AWS native services, facilitating a smoother transition to cloud technologies. Conversely, businesses more ingrained in AWS ecosystems can directly leverage AWS native instances, making full use of AWS tools and APIs from the outset.

Benefits of AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts deliver various advantages that align with the needs of businesses seeking a seamless integration between their on-premises infrastructure and cloud services.

Consistent Hybrid Experience

AWS Outposts enable a unified management experience by allowing enterprises to deploy AWS services both on-premises and in the cloud using the same APIs, control planes, and tools. For example, a company can use Amazon EC2 and Amazon S3 on their Outposts exactly as they would in an AWS Region. This consistency eliminates the learning curve typically associated with managing disparate systems, significantly simplifying IT operations. Businesses like retail chains can manage their inventory systems on-premises with the same efficiency as their online e-commerce platforms hosted in AWS Regions.

Reduced Latency

The local processing capability of AWS Outposts is a game-changer for applications that depend on quick data processing. By situating compute and storage resources closer to the end-users and on-premises data sources, AWS Outposts minimize the distance data must travel, drastically cutting down latency. This is crucial for sectors such as financial services, where even milliseconds of delay in processing transactions can lead to significant financial implications. For instance, a stock trading platform using AWS Outposts can execute trades faster than competitors, giving it a critical edge in high-frequency trading environments.

Data Residency

With increasing concerns over data privacy and compliance with local regulations, AWS Outposts provide a compelling solution by ensuring that sensitive data remains within a specific geography. This is particularly important in regions with stringent data sovereignty laws, such as the European Union under GDPR or countries with mandates that health data do not cross national borders. Healthcare providers, for instance, can leverage AWS Outposts to host and process patient data securely on-premises, thus meeting legal requirements while still being able to utilize advanced cloud-based analytics to improve patient outcomes. This ability to keep data local without sacrificing the benefits of cloud agility and scalability is a significant advantage for organizations operating in regulated industries.

AWS Outposts Family Members

The AWS Outposts family offers a versatile range of solutions that cater to varied organizational needs, including both rack-scale and server-scale options. These configurations are meticulously designed to accommodate diverse requirements for space, capacity, and computing power. Rack-scale solutions are ideal for larger data centers or facilities needing substantial computational power and data storage closely integrated with cloud services. In contrast, server-scale solutions are perfect for smaller sites, like branch offices or retail locations, where space is a premium but local computing resources are still necessary.

AWS Outposts Rack: What It Is, Benefits, and Features

What is AWS Outposts Rack?

AWS Outposts Rack represents a robust solution designed to extend AWS’s cloud infrastructure directly into on-premises locations. This full rack-scale deployment includes all necessary AWS-designed hardware and seamlessly integrates with your existing IT setup, creating a bridge between local computing resources and cloud services.

Benefits of AWS Outposts Rack

The primary benefits of AWS Outposts Rack include its ability to support critical applications that require low latency and high-speed processing close to data sources and end-users. For industries like financial services, this can mean faster data processing capabilities that are crucial for real-time trading platforms. Additionally, for organizations with strict data residency requirements – such as government bodies or healthcare institutions – AWS Outposts Rack ensures that sensitive information is processed and stored within the physical confines of a country or region, adhering to local regulations while still benefiting from cloud technologies.

Features of AWS Outposts Rack

AWS Outposts Rack comes equipped with comprehensive features that support a wide array of AWS services such as Amazon EC2, Amazon EBS, and Amazon S3 locally, which helps in maintaining data sovereignty and reducing the risk of data transfer delays. It is also designed to support high-volume and high-speed connectivity, ensuring that applications running on the Outposts Rack can communicate efficiently with both on-premises networks and the AWS Region.

Aws Outposts Rack
AWS Outposts Rack

AWS Outposts Servers: What It Is, Benefits, and Features

What is AWS Outposts Servers?

AWS Outposts Servers are tailored for deployment in environments where space is limited or the demand for compute capacity is moderate but still requires local processing. These server-scale Outposts provide the same AWS infrastructure, services, and operational tools as the larger racks but in a more compact package.

Benefits of AWS Outposts Servers

For locations such as retail stores, branch offices, or healthcare facilities, AWS Outposts Servers offer the dual advantages of space efficiency and local data processing. Retail stores, for instance, can use these servers to handle real-time inventory management and sales data processing on-site, thereby enabling quicker response times and better customer service. Healthcare facilities benefit by processing sensitive patient data locally, ensuring compliance with health data protection regulations while providing timely health services.

Features of AWS Outposts Servers

Despite their smaller size, AWS Outposts Servers do not compromise on features. They support a range of AWS services and are capable of running applications that require local data residency and low latency. These servers are particularly suitable for edge computing scenarios where computing needs to happen close to data collection points. This is critical in industries like manufacturing and telecommunications, where immediate data processing can significantly enhance operational efficiency and decision-making processes.

Aws Outposts Servers
AWS Outposts Servers

Comparison Between Outposts Family Members

AWS Outposts Racks and Servers each serve distinct purposes, catering to different organizational requirements and scenarios. The decision to choose between these two options should align with a business’s specific operational needs, space availability, and the scale of computing demands.

AWS Outposts Racks: Suited for Larger Operations

AWS Outposts Racks are designed for environments where extensive infrastructure is necessary. This option is ideal for large enterprises with significant computational needs that must be managed locally. For example, a large financial institution requiring rapid processing of vast amounts of transactional data directly on-premises would benefit from the robust capacity offered by an Outposts Rack. This setup not only supports heavier workloads but also integrates seamlessly with the full spectrum of AWS services, allowing such institutions to maintain agility and enhance their data processing capabilities without compromising on performance or security.

AWS Outposts Servers: Tailored for Smaller, Space-Constrained Environments

On the other end of the spectrum, AWS Outposts Servers are specifically designed for smaller sites or environments where space is limited. These units provide the essential benefits of the AWS infrastructure but in a more compact form, making them suitable for scenarios such as managing IT operations in remote branch offices or retail stores. Here, space efficiency and local processing power are critical but the operational demands do not justify a full rack. For instance, a retail chain might use Outposts Servers to handle point-of-sale systems locally, ensuring fast transaction processing and immediate inventory updates, which are crucial for maintaining operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Making the Right Choice

The choice between AWS Outposts Racks and Servers should consider several factors, including the intensity of the local processing needs, the physical space available for deploying hardware, and the scale at which the organization operates. A key advantage of both solutions is their ability to provide a consistent AWS experience, whether through a comprehensive rack that behaves as a mini data center or through a single server that supports essential services on a smaller scale.

Feature comparison

 AWS Outposts RackAWS Outposts Servers
Form factorsThe Outposts rack is 80 inches tall, 24 inches wide, and 48 inches deep. Includes hosts, switches, a network patch panel, a power shelf, and blank panels.The Outposts rack-mountable servers fit inside 19″ width, EIA-310 cabinets. The 1U high server is 24” deep, using AWS Graviton2 processors. The 2U high server is 30” deep, using 3rd generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors.
InstallationAWS delivers Outposts racks fully assembled, installed by AWS, requiring only power and network connections.Outposts servers are delivered and installed by either onsite personnel or a 3rd-party vendor, then remotely provisioned by AWS.
Locally supported servicesSupports a wide range of AWS services including Amazon EC2, ECS, EKS, EBS, S3, RDS, Elasticache, and more, plus seamless VPC extension.Limited to key services such as Amazon EC2, ECS, and AWS IoT Greengrass, with seamless VPC extension.
NetworkingIncluded integrated networking gear; supports Local Gateway with BGP over a routed network.Lacks integrated networking gear; offers a simplified network integration with a local Layer 2 presence.
PowerSupports multiple power configurations (5 kVA, 10 kVA, 15 kVA); features centralized redundant power conversion and DC distribution.Requires 1-2 kVA of power; supports standard AC and DC power options.
CapacityDesigned for high-capacity needs, suitable for extensive cloud integration and larger data loads.Best for moderate capacity requirements, ideal for smaller workloads and edge computing scenarios.
ScalabilityHighly scalable, capable of supporting extensive enterprise operations and multiple applications.Less scalable compared to racks, suited for specific applications where scalability is a secondary concern.
CostHigher upfront and operational costs due to larger scale and more extensive features.More cost-effective for organizations with less intensive needs and smaller operational scales.

Services That Run Locally Within AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts supports a variety of services running locally, including computing services like Amazon EC2, container services such as Amazon ECS and EKS, and storage services like EBS and Amazon S3 on Outposts. This allows for a wide range of computing and storage tasks to be handled locally, improving performance and reducing the need to transfer data to the cloud.

Use Cases of AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts serve a critical role across various industries by enabling localized processing with the scalability and flexibility of cloud resources. This section explores several practical applications of AWS Outposts in different sectors, illustrating how they can address specific business challenges.

Healthcare: Ensuring Compliance and Enhancing Patient Care

In the healthcare industry, AWS Outposts facilitate the local processing of sensitive patient data, helping institutions comply with stringent privacy regulations such as HIPAA in the United States or GDPR in Europe. Hospitals and clinics use AWS Outposts to host patient management systems on-premises, allowing for real-time access to patient records without the latency that might be experienced with a fully cloud-hosted solution. This setup not only secures data residency but also leverages cloud-based analytics to improve diagnostic accuracy and patient outcomes. For example, a hospital might use machine learning models hosted on AWS to analyze medical images locally, reducing the time taken to deliver critical diagnostic results.

Financial Services: Achieving Ultra-Low Latency for Critical Transactions

In financial services, AWS Outposts are particularly valuable for applications requiring ultra-low latency, such as high-frequency trading (HFT). Financial firms deploy AWS Outposts to process and analyze trading data on-premises, ensuring they can execute transactions milliseconds faster than competitors. This edge can significantly impact profitability in markets where timing is everything. Additionally, financial institutions can maintain data within the geographic boundaries required by financial regulators, adding an extra layer of compliance to their operations.

Content Delivery: Streamlining Media Processing and Distribution

For media companies, AWS Outposts provide a powerful solution for handling large-scale video processing and content delivery networks (CDN) with reduced latency. By processing video content locally, media organizations can quickly adapt to viewer demands and preferences without transmitting vast amounts of data back and forth to the cloud. This capability is crucial during high-traffic events such as live sports or concerts, where immediate data processing is necessary to deliver a seamless viewing experience. Additionally, local processing allows for quicker adaptation of content based on analytics performed on viewers’ behavior, helping media companies to better target their audiences and optimize their content offerings.

Manufacturing: Enhancing Operational Efficiency with Edge Computing

Manufacturing facilities use AWS Outposts to bring compute and storage resources closer to the factory floor, where large quantities of data are generated by IoT devices and sensors. This data is used in real-time to monitor equipment performance, predict maintenance needs, and optimize production processes without the latency that might be involved with cloud processing. For instance, a manufacturer might use AWS Outposts to run predictive analytics on equipment data to prevent costly downtimes and improve operational efficiency, all while keeping critical data on-premises for security and compliance.

AWS Outposts Pricing Overview

AWS Outposts Rack Pricing

AWS Outposts Rack provides pricing that includes delivery, installation, and ongoing servicing. This price structure ensures that there are no hidden costs and simplifies budgeting for businesses needing extensive on-premises infrastructure integrated with AWS services.

The cost of AWS Outposts Rack depends on the storage tier selected, with options ranging from 11TB to 1PB. Businesses can start with a smaller capacity and scale up as needed, with each tier priced differently to accommodate varying business needs. The pricing tiers ensure that as businesses expand their EBS capacity, they benefit from consistent rates, which become more economical at higher tiers.

Additional costs include operating system charges applied per instance, and AWS Services charges based on hourly usage. These are exclusive of the underlying EC2 instance and EBS storage costs to prevent double billing. Data transfer from the Outposts to the AWS Region and local networks is free, aligning with AWS’s pricing model for data transfer in its Regions.

AWS Outposts Servers Pricing

Pricing for AWS Outposts Servers also excludes taxes and duties and follows a similar structure to Outposts Rack. It includes operating system fees charged per instance and per-hour charges for AWS Services running on the servers, such as ECS, IoT Greengrass, and SageMaker Edge Manager.

Like the Outposts Rack, AWS Outposts Servers ensure there are no charges for data transfers to the parent AWS Region or local networks, maintaining consistency with AWS’s global data transfer pricing policies.

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