Businesses have embraced the cloud over the past decade. And now, one cloud is not enough.
Flexera’s 2021 State of the Cloud Survey found that 92% of companies have a multi-cloud strategy, with the majority opting for a hybrid architecture distributed between private and public cloud infrastructure. In fact, most organizations divide their workloads between two or three public and private environments.
The precise reasons for this are not clear. Developers and IT teams may be looking for reasonably priced services that best meet the requirements of a particular application. And the pandemic has likely prompted organizations to accelerate their transition to flexible, demand-driven cloud services.
Once CFOs made it clear that they preferred usage-based pricing, HPE introduced GreenLake, which repackages infrastructure hardware, software, and support services into an as-a-service package. HPE is not 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 like HPE Pointnext for hybrid, edge and AI infrastructures.
As with any XaaS (all-as-a-service) product, GreenLake spreads infrastructure payments over time, but it differs from traditional lease agreements in two ways. First, HPE owns, manages and maintains the equipment in the customer’s private data center, edge location, or colocation rack. So when hardware needs to be replaced or software needs an update, HPE gets the job done.
Second, HPE bases monthly charges on resource usage, such as active storage capacity, active servers or virtual machines, and memory usage. GreenLake’s initial orders are based on capacity estimates using an online self-service tool or through an HPE Workload and Requirements Assessment.
While GreenLake does not cover the entire HPE portfolio, it does provide significant flexibility in equipment selection and configuration. GreenLake customers will need a variety of software including:
- abroad a set of cloud services, such as servers, machine learning (ML) models, virtual machines and containers;
- a central management portal for all GreenLake resources to manage provisioning and configuration of VMs, containers and ML projects through a self-service graphical interface;
- buffering capacity for rapid scaling to accommodate peak workloads;
- collection, aggregation and analysis of resource consumption metrics;
- 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 correct 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 in the Ezmeral marketplace.
GreenLake operates on a consumption-based model, which allows customers to quickly increase and decrease capacity in response to measured usage. There is no big upfront price. And, as a SaaS-like product with usage-based billing, there is no fixed lease with predetermined payments. Although GreenLake equipment is owned and operated by HPE, Customer controls security policies and configurations.
While GreenLake turns traditional IT software and hardware 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 offers vendor-owned and managed equipment that runs certain AWS services, including:
- General Purpose EC2 Instances (M5), Compute (C5), Memory (R5), Graphics (G4dn) and Optimized I / O (I3en);
- 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 on-premises gateway, VPN gateway, and application load balancer support;
- Amazon’s Elastic Container Service and Elastic Kubernetes Service container managers;
- relational databases (SQL Server, MySQL, PostgreSQL) and ElastiCache; and
- Elastic MapReduce and associated Hadoop applications such as Spark, Hive, and Presto.
The initial manifestation of Outposts was only available in a 42U rack, although it didn’t need to be fully populated. AWS has since introduced the 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 with existing AWS services through its management console, but it also supports AWS Resource Access Manager, where Outposts can share resources across multiple accounts.
While GreenLake requires customers to submit a configuration proposal in order to get a price estimate, Outposts pricing is fairly standardized, with small, two-instance installs starting at around $ 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 and Outposts
While GreenLake and Outposts have a similar feature set, they differ in a significant way: Outposts ties into the AWS cloud stack, while GreenLake supports any software stack the customer chooses. This is where the primary decision factor for organizations considering these managed private cloud offerings lies.
Outposts is ideal for organizations that are already committed to AWS and want to run legacy applications on private systems within an on-premises or other private installation.
GreenLake, on the other hand, is best suited for organizations that already use HPE equipment but want a managed service with usage-based billing. It is ideal for organizations that make a long-term commitment to on-premises infrastructure and do not aggressively move new and existing applications to the public cloud.
Outposts is a tightly integrated hybrid cloud product. It provides the same set of on-premise and cloud-based services. In contrast, GreenLake does not address the public cloud element of the hybrid model.
While it can work with a variety of public clouds, GreenLake itself will not provide the single management user interface and the transparent ability to provision workloads on a dedicated and shared infrastructure. This sets GreenLake apart from Outposts and Azure Stack.