While the desire and intent to migrate to VMware Cloud on AWS is clear, the pathway isn’t without barriers. In this article Duan van der Westhuizen VP of Marketing at Faction explains how we look at what businesses are planning, impediments to the process, and practical solutions for implementation.
Moving to the cloud is a clear choice for many businesses. How to get there isn’t always as clear. Evaluations of technology, support, cost, compliance, security, reliability, flexibility, and manageability are all part of the equation. VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC), a hybrid cloud platform released by VMware in 2017, is gaining ground.
Underpinned by AWS public cloud infrastructure, VMware Cloud on AWS allows users to modernize, protect, and scale vSphere-based applications leveraging the magnitude and flexibility of a hyperscale public cloud. Organizations that have already invested in VMware tools, systems integration, and trained staff find VMware Cloud particularly attractive because workload migration does not require refactoring and staff can leverage their existing knowledge and skills. The platform can reduce operational overhead and accelerate cloud adoptions for application migrations, data center extensions, disaster recovery, and/or data protection.
In August 2019, the Faction VMware Cloud on AWS Market Survey evaluated current trends in VMC adoption and usage. The results, from 1,156 respondents, showed significant room for VMC usage growth by SMBs and large enterprises alike. The top industries expressing interest in VMware Cloud on AWS are tech services, financial services, education, and healthcare.
While the desire and intent to migrate to VMware Cloud on AWS is clear, the pathway isn’t without barriers. Here we look at what businesses are planning, challenges to the process, and practical solutions for implementation.
Why is there a growing interest in VMware Cloud on AWS? Businesses already using VMC and businesses considering VMC are doing so for similar reasons. Data center extension, cloud migration, AWS integrated applications, and disaster recovery, in order, are the top use cases for companies considering the move to VMC.
The interest in this move comes from three leading drivers. Scalability is cited by more than half (54%) of respondents as a top driver. Strategic IT initiatives (49%) and cost savings (45%) are the second and third top drivers.
The next two years promise to be an active time for migration to VMware Cloud on AWS. In the coming year, 29 percent of all respondents plan to start running or increase the number of workloads on VMware Cloud on AWS. Of all respondents considering VMware Cloud on AWS, 23% plan to do so in the next 12 months and 26% plan to do so in 13–24 months.
The deployment and management of VMware Cloud on AWS share similar barriers with other cloud migrations.
Organizations looking to adopt VMware Cloud on AWS in the future should note that the top three reported migration challenges were migration execution, assessing workloads, and finding experienced personnel. We did find some of these surprising due to the homogenous nature of having VMware skills, personnel, and technology stack on-premises, and the same VMware technology stack in the Cloud, but it is indicative of the fact that additional complexity is introduced when extending or migrating to cloud. In our experience with deploying many of these environments, this typically manifests in the networking design and configuration of the cloud environment. Once the workloads are on VMware Cloud on AWS, cost management, network complexity, and AWS prerequisites are the most common usage challenges.
Moving forward with unimpeded VMware Cloud on AWS migration is attainable with the right preparation. Consider these six best practices for streamlined implementation:
Select optimal applications and workloads
Single legacy applications can be good candidates for early VMware Cloud on AWS migration. Mapping workload needs and dependencies will help organizations side-step the challenge associated with moving workloads too early. Phasing workload migration allows the organization to fine-tune the process as staff become more experienced.
Prioritize data protection
VMware Cloud on AWS uses a shared responsibility model for security. As the IaaS provider, AWS secures the underlying physical infrastructure of the data centers. VMware handles all security for the management layer, while customers own the security and compliance of actual workloads. Ensure that your new cloud workloads and data will comply with your unique security and regulatory requirements by creating a security baseline that defines role-based privileges. With the access and handling controls established, automate the environment configuration and create simple standard operating procedures (SOPs) to maintain availability, confidentiality, and integrity of your data.
Choose the right connectivity for your budget and workloads
For disaster recovery, testing, and non-critical applications, VPNs are economical connections. For applications that require zero-to-low latency and high availability, AWS Direct Connect provides dedicated bandwidth and granular network control. Both VPN and Direct Connect support Layer 2 and Layer 3, select the best one based on your specific application requirements.
Decouple storage from VM nodes to avoid over-provisioning and reduce costs
Managed service providers (MSPs) can provide cost effective, cloud adjacent storage to VMware Cloud on AWS. Deploying this in your environment provides you with a way to expand your storage footprint without procuring additional VMware Cloud on AWS nodes.
Create a comprehensive project timeline
Allow ample time for discovery, workload selection, dependency mapping, network design, security controls, implementation work (phased or cutover), and ongoing operations. These considerations will help prevent delays, both before and after deployment.
Don’t underestimate the total savings impact
Upfront project planning and workload selection will help organizations create accurate migration budgets and control costs after migration. Look for business-wide savings that will come from or offset the upfront migration costs, including:
Leveraging existing skills and tools
When you extend your existing on-premises vSphere environment into the cloud, your operational staff use a familiar toolset for both on-prem and cloud deployments. This reduces costs associated with re-training staff and improves productivity compared to switching between tools.
Avoided application refactoring
There is no need to re-architect the applications or to re-tool when you migrate vSphere-based virtual machines to VMware Cloud on AWS.
Reduced labor hours for operations
VMware Cloud on AWS manages the infrastructure, freeing up IT staff to focus on other business-critical tasks.
Reduced data center operating costs
On-premises data center expenses include both CapEx (e.g., networking, hardware, software, uninterrupted power supplies, upcoming infrastructure refresh costs) and OpEx (e.g., heating and air conditioning, property taxes). Moving some or all of your workloads to VMware Cloud on AWS will reduce your data center footprint and the predictable OpEx scales when you need it.
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