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By Peter Bodifee, Principal Cloud Consultant, NorthBay Solutions
VMware Virtualization Deployments

Many companies have aspirations of getting out of the data center business by moving their on-premises applications and infrastructure to the AWS Cloud, but the IT teams who are responsible for making the AWS Cloud migration happen can easily become overwhelmed by the potential risks — or even paralyzed by fear of the process not going according to plan.

However, what many IT professionals don't realize is that if they have VMware virtualization deployments — which 100% of the Fortune 500 and 83% of companies worldwide do — migrating those VMware deployments to the AWS Cloud is actually one of the most straightforward and low-risk migrations possible.

That said, VMware suggests that their customers — especially those who are highly risk averse — follow a somewhat painstaking approach to virtualization modernization and AWS Cloud migration. This isn’t all that surprising, given that VMware’s own transition to the cloud has been a methodical, years-long journey comprised of incremental changes.

What is VMware’s Approach to virtualization modernization and AWS cloud migration?

According to VMware, the ultimate goal is to leverage the same hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) in private datacenters and the public cloud, thus bringing consistency across both environments. Following is VMware’s suggested approach for doing so, as detailed in a 2020 report published by IDG and sponsored by VMware:

  1. Implement core HCI, which consists of hyperconverged compute and storage implemented on-premises.
  2. Expand to full-stack HCI, which adds networking, management tools, and automation to the mix, enabling you to manage the entire stack as a single platform. A simple way to achieve full-stack HCI is to adopt VMware Cloud Foundation, which encompasses integrated, virtualized compute, storage, and networking, all with unified management.
  3. Extend the HCI environment to multiple private and public cloud environments and the edge, thus building a hybrid cloud architecture.

What is NorthBay’s approach to virtualization modernization and AWS cloud migration — and why is it faster and easier?

While the VMware methodology was an effective one for risk-averse customers in past years (think prior to 2017), VMware Cloud on AWS has since matured into a fully managed (by VMware) HCI offering. In fact, VMWare Cloud on AWS now leverages VMware Cloud Foundation, which is a complete set of software-defined services for compute, storage, networking, security and cloud management for running traditional and containerized applications in both private and public clouds. VMware Cloud on AWS is also a much faster and less risky approach to cloud migration even if current infrastructure is not yet fully hyper converged, or if older versions of vSphere are still in use.

Here is how the NorthBay approach to virtualization modernization and AWS cloud migration works:

  1. Migrate web and application tiers to software-defined data center (SDDC) deployed on AWS. This is a simple migration that does not require refactoring the environments running the actual business and presentation logic.
  2. Migrate the data persistence tier to the managed data services in AWS: e.g. RDS, Aurora, S3, and EFS. While VMware Cloud on AWS also provides the full stack HCI (which includes vSAN storage), using native AWS cloud services for data persistence (e.g. databases, file servers, object storage) scales economically much better than the storage options on VMware Cloud on AWS clusters.
  3. Migrate any on-premises security and network infrastructure (e.g. firewalls/gateways, load balancers) to AWS managed services.

Take a look at these two diagrams to visualize the differences in approaches:

  • Typical current state for 3 tier infrastructure using virtualization for web and application servers in an on-premises datacenter:
How to Migrate VMware Virtualization Deployments to the AWS Cloud
  • Typical future state running all workloads in AWS, note application and web VMs are unchanged.
How to Migrate VMware Virtualization Deployments to the AWS Cloud

Ready to migrate your VMware virtualization to the AWS Cloud? Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.