Amazon Web Services (AWS) has made available its EC2 Dedicated Hosts option that enables customers to reserve a dedicated physical server they can use for operating EC2 virtual machine instances. The move could help enterprise customers to migrate existing server licences to workloads operating in the AWS cloud.
EC2 Dedicated Hosts was first detailed by the cloud services giant back in October, but is now available for customers to deploy within a number of AWS regions, including both the Frankfurt and Dublin facilities in Europe.
The move also comes just weeks after AWS announced plans to open its first UK data centres to form an additonal region within the EU.
Currently, customers will only be able to allocate up to two Dedicated Hosts per instance family, such as the M4 or C4 type, within each region, AWS said. A dedicated host can also only be deployed by a customer with an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) account.
Having the ability to allocate a dedicated physical server provides customers with several advantages over the standard way of provisioning EC2 instances, according to chief evangelist Jeff Barr, writing on the AWS Official Blog.
This includes being able to bring existing server-based licenses for products such as Windows Server and SQL Server to the cloud; meeting regulatory and compliance requirements by running key applications on hardware dedicated to that purpose; easier tracking of license usage; and finer-grained control over the placement of EC2 instances.
In the case of migrating licences to the cloud, having a dedicated host provides customers with visibility of the number of sockets and physical cores that are available, so that they can obtain and use software licenses that are a good match for the actual hardware, Barr said.
"You can use your existing software licenses on Dedicated Hosts. Verify that the terms allow the software to be used in a virtualised environment, and use VM Import/Export to bring your existing machine images into the cloud," he said.
The new Dedicated Hosts offering thus appears to be aimed at attracting more enterprise customers to the AWS platform, by offering some of the advantages available on hosted private cloud infrastructure or traditional hosting environments, where the IT department has more direct control over the infrastructure and where specific applications and services are placed.
However, there are also some limitations to choosing this method of deployment. As well as EC2 instances on Dedicated Hosts always having to reside within a VPC, they cannot make use of some of the key automation features of AWS such as Placement Groups and Auto Scaling.
There are also restrictions on the range of Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that customers can select for deployment from the AWS Marketplace onto a Dedicated Host, with those based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Suse Linux, or those which include Windows licenses unavailable.
Customers are also billed for the resources of the entire physical host server regardless of the number of EC2 instances that may be running on it at any given moment. Billing also starts as soon as the host is allocated, in contrast to other AWS services where customers can opt to pay on-demand only for the resources they need as they go.
Nevertheless, Dedicated Hosts adds another deployment option alongside Amazon's existing cloud resources, and the ability to re-use existing licences - dubbed Bring Your Own License by AWS - is likely to attract some enterprise customers.
"We want to make sure that you can continue to derive value from these licenses after you migrate to AWS," Barr said.
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