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3 Challenges of Cloud Migration & VMware Cloud on AWS

The original migration to “The Cloud” is a fun and exciting place in IT, with many, many fires that needed to be extinguished. As a cloud migration project spins up, three challenges typically flare for IT teams—most notably lack of budget forecasting, permissions management, and the impact on project timelines.

After a while, projects will get back on track, and IT returns stronger and more vibrant than before. We often see this pattern with cloud migration, and today are seeing similar patterns in the deployment and management of VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC). This blog dives into the three notable challenges for migrating to cloud and considerations for VMware Cloud on AWS.

Challenge #1: Budget Forecasting

 When the call goes out to move into the cloud, IT leaders aren’t always giving enough consideration to the initial costs of a migration. We often hear, “We’ve got computers and people to run it; it can’t cost much.” However, cloud-based servers required more servers and more people, which means considerably more allocation of budget and systems upfront.

The result: sticker shock. When moving to the cloud looks like it will double (or worse, triple) the budget, many companies dismissed cloud migration as an option.

However, when people took the time to sit back and look at options, this budgetary concern was alleviated:

  • Older production systems, which were going to require replacement in the near future, could be repurposed as R&D, lab, or QA environments; often these were at a higher return since the prior production environments typically outclassed other systems.
  • Instead of having to buy multiple test systems, a single production server could be repurposed, offsetting the cost of the cloud requirements.
  • Similar approaches could be taken with headcount, software, network, and other resources.

Challenge #2: Permissions Management

 With migrating to the cloud, the management of permissions and access creates additional challenges for IT teams. With public clouds, private clouds, VPNs, direct connects, extended networks, and the general expansion of user access —internal permission and access management need to be redesigned.

This new architecture generates a whole new issue with attempts to breach corporate assets and for data leaks. A lazy employee could cause a data breach for millions of customer entries, causing massive loss of consumer faith; resulting in financial penalties that could cause direct and indirect financial loss. Projects, departments, and even whole companies could be destroyed in a single incident. (Web searches on “business shut down due to customer data leak” can cause nightmares if you’re in such an environment).

If the organization, though, took security seriously and prioritized data protection during migration, the centralized management built into the top-tier cloud providers could provide exceptional control over the most important aspects of data care and feeding. Once the access and handling controls are established, a simple standard operating procedure could maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the data.

Challenge #3: Project Timelines

 Unfortunately, time is the biggest challenge to migrating to cloud providers. The wholesale migration of an environment is generally not a normal daily procedure for most organizations.

As a result, proper scoping of details necessary for a successful migration from an on-premise data center to a cloud provider was not common knowledge. All too often, established timelines underestimated actual implementation procedures, necessary skills, and the complexity of environments.

Drivers, software compatibility, network design, security controls authentication management, and the care and feeding had to be taken into account and mapped extremely carefully, with great attention to detail. Any slip-up could cause significant delays or visible problems if it was found after the deployment stage was live.



 Today, the barriers to and solutions of a cloud migration can also be seen in the deployment and management of VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC). With the implementation of VMware and AWS for VMC, the challenges expanded into new areas with the linking of multi-provider environments such as corporate credential management, VMware vCenter, and Amazon Cloud.

Technologies that used to co-exist but not intermingle started blurring and merging, and required new controls to make sure data and systems maintained their integrity, while still allowing users to perform their duties and still providing other required access to function correctly.

The great benefits of migrating to VMware Cloud on AWS soon presented themselves. An environmental migration did not mean installing a bare metal system, all required drivers, all the software, patching, network connectivity, network control management, data loading, configuration, validation, full UAT, and more.

Using a tool for backing up VMware guest machines resolved a massive amount of work—and put out some of the fires:

  • The virtualization pieces provided by VMware abstracted the hardware related components, including drivers.
  • By migrating, rather than re-installing, the right software revisions would already be installed.
  • While the process is not yet reduced to a single click solution, if the environment is configured correctly, more of the migration can be automated, making it less painful.
  • Best yet, if the VMC solution is a disaster recovery failover solution, the network can be pre-configured and tested repeatedly in the DR environment without impacting production.

Combining this flexibility with the multi-availability zone capabilities of AWS and the management of VMware guests through vCenter, a migrated or restored environment can be spread across multiple sites.

This, of course, removes some single points of failure from the new environment without having to rack and stack hardware, manage connectivity vendors, data center vendors, and the rest. These steps may not completely prevent the fires of migrating to VMware Cloud on AWS, but they should make putting them out a lot easier.

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