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AWS balances GA of Aurora Serverless with new instance types

The end of summer is typically slow for the IT world, but AWS this month continues to expand its horde of instance types, and lay the groundwork for a future where its customers won’t even bother with VMs.

The cloud vendor rolled out more instance options and made Amazon Aurora Serverless generally available. And as the annual VMworld user conference closed out the month, the company advanced the ability to run the VMware stack on AWS, and perhaps more importantly, run AWS on-premises with VMware software.

The T3 instance is the next generation of burstable, generable purpose VMs available in EC2. It’s 30% cheaper than the T2 and supports up to 5 Gbps in network bandwidth. The T series of VMs, first added in 2010, is designed for smaller applications with large, infrequent spikes in demand. Like the previous two generations, the T3 comes in seven sizes, with varying amounts of memory and baseline performance.

The T3 is the latest instance type to rely on AWS’ Nitro system. It is hardware-virtual-machine-only and must be used within a Virtual Private Cloud.

AWS also added two instance sizes to Amazon Lightsail, its virtual private server offering. The 16 GB and 32 GB iterations are the largest Lightsail instances yet, and their additions coincided with a 50% price drop on all other existing Lightsail instance sizes.

There appears to be little cadence to AWS’ instance type expansion, but the cloud giant shows no signs of slowing down. Those additions came just weeks after AWS rolled out the z1d, R5 and R5d instances in late July.

Serverless vs. VMs

At the same time, AWS moved Aurora Serverless out of preview. The highly anticipated version of its fastest growing service, first announced last November, enables users to provision and scale database capacity while AWS manages all the underlying servers.

The GA of Aurora Serverless has limitations, however. It’s only available for MySQL and in the following regions: US East (Northern Virginia), US East (Ohio), US West (Oregon), EU (Ireland) and Asia Pacific (Tokyo). AWS says it will continue to add regional availability in the coming year. AWS originally said the PostgreSQL version would be available in the back half of this year, but hasn’t updated that timeframe since Aurora Serverless first went into preview.

EC2 continues to host the vast majority of AWS workloads, but it will be worth watching how long AWS remains on these parallel paths of additional VM variety and VM-free services. Many industry observers expect the latter will eventually overshadow the former. AWS has hedged its bets with a container strategy that was slightly late to the game, but even there serverless gets equal footing.

AWS started with serverless in 2014 with the addition of Lambda functions,  and is still largely seen as the predominant player in this space, but to maintain that edge it’ll be without one if its key contributors. Tim Wagner, who oversaw the development Lambda, was hired by Coinbase, a digital currency exchange, to be its vice president of engineering. Wagner was general manager for AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway and AWS Serverless App Repository at the time of his departure.

AWS: coming to a data center near you

And finally, AWS deepened its ties to VMware in more ways than one during VMworld. VMware Cloud on AWS, a service jointly developed by the two vendors but sold by VMware, added tools to simplify migrations from on premises to AWS and to manage workloads post-migration. VMware also cut the price of the service in half, which could attract organizations still on the fence.

What surprised many industry observers was AWS’ continued march beyond its own facilities. AWS will sell and deliver Amazon Relational Database Service on VMware inside users’ own data centers. The on-premises version of the AWS database service will handle management, provisioning, patches and backups. It will also make it easier for VMware customers to migrate their existing databases to Amazon’s public cloud.

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