Think AWS doesn’t have designs on in-house apps? Think again.

Some people still see Amazon Web Services as “out there” and think of their own on-premises servers as islands onto themselves. But, as we keep being reminded, Amazon has ambitions to reach right into your server room. The latest example: AWS OpsWorks now can manage VMs running in your own data centers — provided those VMs are web-connected.

As AWS explained this week in a blog post:

Previously, you could only deploy and operate applications on [company]Amazon[/company] EC2 instances created by OpsWorks. Now, OpsWorks can also manage existing EC2 instances created outside of OpsWorks.

This means that an IT administrator can update security patches, operating systems and application software upgrades for all of her managed resources with one command. Management of EC2 instances is free and the charge for non-AWS resources is $0.02 per hour for each server running the OpsWorks agent.

This is just the latest step in a long march toward erasing boundaries between in-house server rooms and the AWS cloud. Last spring, AWS launched a portal that mimics the VMware vCenter experience so VM admins can manage AWS resources; in October, it debuted AWS Directory Services, which tie cloud resources into existing on-premises applications managed by Active Directory or Samba directories.

Tying on-prem apps to the cloud

At AWS Re:Invent last month, Amazon announced a service catalog that lets a company’s IT staff offer AWS-based services to internal users while providing an IT-level of control over those services. I’m guessing it won’t take long for that catalog to add services running outside AWS to the mix.

Amazon has made a concerted effort to appeal to big companies that are likely to prefer hybrid cloud for the foreseeable future — putting some work and data into a public cloud but retaining lots of other stuff under its control. In that realm, AWS has to compete with old-school IT vendors such as [company]VMware[/company], [company]Microsoft[/company], [company]IBM[/company] and Oracle.

What’s sort of amazing here is that cloud competitors — I’m looking at you, Oracle — continue to pigeonhole AWS as “just” an Infrastructure-as-a-Service provider, even as it rolls out enterprise-focused management capabilities like these.