With a week full of sessions, bootcamps and extra-curriculars at AWS re:Invent 2018, you might not have had time to make it to our breakout session. Watch “Proven Methodologies for Accelerating Your Cloud Journey” on-demand now to see what you missed.
Learn how to accelerate your journey to the cloud while implementing a cloud-first strategy without sacrificing the controls and standards required in a large, publicly-traded enterprise. Benefit from insights developed from working with some of the most recognized brands in the world. Discover how these household names leverage automation, CI / CD, and a modular approach to workload design to ensure consistent application of their security and governance requirements. Learn which approaches to use when transforming workloads to cloud native technologies, including serverless and containers. With this approach, business users can finally receive properly governed resources without delaying or disrupting their need for agility, flexibility and cloud scale.
By now you’ve likely heard of VMware Cloud on AWS, either from the first announcement of the offering, or more recently as activity in the space has been heating up since the product has reached a state of maturity. On-premises, we loved what VMware could do for us in terms of ease of management and the full utilization of hardware resources. However, in the cloud the push for native services is ever present, and many first reactions about VMC are “Why would you do that?” This is certainly the elephant in the room whenever the topic arises. Previous experience with manually deployed VMware in the AWS cloud required nested virtualization and nearly the same care and feeding as on-premises. This further adds to initial reaction. Common sense would dictate however, that if the two 800-pound gorillas come together in the room, they may be able to take on the elephant in the room! As features have been added to the product and customer feedback implemented, it has become more and more compelling for the enormous installed base of VMware to take advantage of the offering.
What are the best features of VMware Cloud on AWS?
Some of the most attractive features of the cloud are the managed services, which reduce the administrative overhead normally required to maintain reliable and secure operations. Let’s say you want to use SQL Server in AWS. Moving to the RDS service where there is no maintenance, configuration or patching of the underlying server is an easy decision. After some time, the thought of configuring a server and installing/maintaining a RDBMS seems archaic and troublesome. You can now have your DBA focus on the business value that the database provides. VMware Cloud on AWS is no different. The underlying software and physical hardware is no longer a concern. One can always be on the optimum version of the platform with no effort, and additional hardware can be added to a cluster at the press of a button.
So, what software/service helps manage and control the entirety of your IT estate?
There are many third-party software solutions, managed service providers, and up and coming native services like Simple Systems Manager. Now imagine a cloud based managed service that works for on-premises and cloud resources, and has an existing, mature ecosystem where nearly everyone in Enterprise IT has basic to advanced knowledge. Sounds attractive, doesn’t it? That is the idea behind VMware Cloud on AWS.
The architecture of VMC is based on dedicated bare metal systems that are physically located in AWS datacenters. VMware Cloud on AWS Software Defined Datacenters (SDDCs) are deployed with a fully configured vSAN running on NVMe Flash storage local to the cluster, which currently can expand up to 32 nodes. You are free to provision the hosts anyway you see fit. This arrangement also allows full access to AWS services, and keeps resources in the same low latency network. There is also a connector between the customer’s AWS account and the VMC SDDC, allowing direct low latency access to existing AWS resources in a client VPC. For management, the hybrid linked mode gives a single logical view spanning both on-premises and VMC vCenter servers. This allows control of the complete hybrid environment with vCenter and the familiar web console.
Figure 1. VMware Cloud on AWS Overview
Below are some selected capabilities, benefits, and general information on the VMware Cloud on AWS:
There is no immediate requirement for refactoring of existing applications, but access to AWS services allows for future modernization.
Very little retraining of personnel is required. Existing scripts, tools and workflows are reusable.
Easy expansion of resource footprint without deploying more physical infrastructure.
Easy migration of VMs across specific geographies or between cloud/premises for compliance and latency reasons.
VMware native resiliency and availability features are fully supported: including DRS for workload distribution, shared storage for clustered application support, and automatic VM restart after node failure.
DR as a service with Site Recovery is supported, including the creation of stretched clusters. This can provide zero-RPO between AZ’s within the AWS region. This service takes advantage of the AWS infrastructure which is already designed with high availability in mind.
VMware Horizon 7 is fully supported. This can extend on-premises desktop services without buying additional hardware and enables placement of virtual desktops near latency-sensitive applications in the cloud.
The service has GDPR, HIPAA, ISO, and SOC attestations to enable the creation of compliant solutions.
Region expansion is underway and two new regions have recently come online in Europe.
Discounts are available based on existing product consumption and licensing.
Integration with CloudFormation for automated deployment is available.
Figure 2: VMware Cloud on AWS Target use cases
So for those currently using VMware and considering a move to the cloud and/or hybrid architecture, VMware Cloud on AWS offers the most straightforward gateway into this space. The service then brings all the hundreds of services in the AWS ecosystem into play, as well as a consistent operational model, the ability to retain familiar VMware tools, policies, management, and investments in third-party tools. So instead of planning and executing your next hardware refresh and VMware version upgrade, consider migrating to VMware Cloud on AWS!
For help getting started migrating to VMware Cloud on AWS, contact us.
While at 2nd Watch, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a plethora of CIOs on their journey to the cloud. Some focused on application-specific migrations, while others focused on building a foundation. Regardless of where they started, their journey began out of a need for greater agility, flexibility, extensibility and standardization.
Moving to the cloud not only provides you with agility, flexibility and extensibility – it actually improves your IT organization. How? In this post I will outline 10 ways migrating to the cloud will improve your IT organization.
CI/CD: IT organizations require speed and agility when responding to development and infrastructure requests. Today’s development processes encourage continuous integration, summarized as continuously releasing code utilizing release automation. Using these processes, an IT organization is able to continually produce minimally viable products – faster.
Organizational Streamlining: In order to implement continuous integration, an organization’s processes must be connected and streamlined – from resource provisioning to coding productivity. Moving to the cloud enables the IT organization to create sustainable processes; processes that track requests for resources, the provisioning of those resources, streamlined communication and facilitates the business unit chargeback in addition to the general benefit of working more efficiently. For example, the provisioning process of one customer took 15 days – from requirement gathering to approval to finally provisioning resources. By working with the 2nd Watch team we were able to automate the entire provisioning process, including several approval gates. The new automated process now deploys the requested systems in minutes compared to days.
Work More Efficiently: Moving to the cloud returns the IT organization’s focus to where it belongs so your team can focus on the jobs they were hired to do. No longer focused on resource provisioning, patching and configuration, they are now working on the core functions of their role, such as aligning new IT service offerings to business needs.
New Capabilities: IT organizations can focus on developing new capabilities and capitalize on new opportunities for the business. More importantly, IT departments can focus on projects that more closely align to business strategy.
An actual Dev/Test: Organizations can now create true Dev/Test environments in the cloud that enables self-service provisioning and de-provisioning of testing servers with significantly lower cost and overhead. Something that was previously expensive, inefficient and hard to maintain on-prem can now be deployed in a way that is easy, flexible and cost efficient.
Dedicated CIO Leadership: Moving to and operating within a cloud-based environment requires strong IT leadership. Now the CIO is more easily able to focus on key strategic initiatives that deliver value to the business. With fewer distractions, this ability to define and drive the overall strategy and planning of the organization, IT policy, capacity planning, compliance and security enables the CIO to lead the charge with innovation when working with business.
Foster Stronger IT and Business Relationships: Moving to the cloud creates stronger relationships between IT and the business. No longer is IT relegated to just determining requirements, selecting services and implementing the chosen solution. They can now participate in collaborative discussions with the business to help define what is Moving to the cloud fosters collaboration between IT and business leaders to promote a cohesive and inclusive cloud strategy that meets IT’s governance requirements but also enables the agility needed by the business to stay competitive.
Creation of a CCoE: Migrating to the cloud offers the IT organization an opportunity to create a Cloud Center of Excellence. Ideally, the CCoE should be designed to be a custom turn-key operation embedded with your enterprise’s existing IT engineers as part of its core level of expertise. This team will consist of an IT team dedicated to creating, evangelizing, and institutionalizing best practices, frameworks, and governance for evolving technology operations, which are increasingly implemented using the cloud. The CCoE develops a point of view for how cloud technology is implemented at scale for an organization. Moreover, by creating a CCoE it can help with breaking down silos and creating a single pane of glass view when it comes to cloud technology, from creating a standard for machine images through infrastructure builds to managing cloud costs.
New Training Opportunities: Evolving the technical breadth already present in the organization and working through the cultural changes required to bring the skeptics along is a great opportunity to bring your team closer together while simultaneously expanding your capabilities. The more knowledge your teams have on cloud technologies, the smoother the transition will be for the organization. As a result, you will develop more internal evangelists and ease the fear, uncertainty and doubt often felt by IT professionals when making the transition to the cloud. The importance of investing in training and growth of employees cannot be stressed enough as, based on our experience, there is a strong correlation between investments in training and successful moves to the cloud. Continued education is part of the “Cloud Way” that pays off while preserving much of the tribal knowledge that exists within your organization.
Flexibility, Elasticity and Functionality: Cloud computing allows your IT organization to adapt more quickly with flexibility that is not available when working with on-prem solutions. Moving to a cloud platform enables quick response to internal capacity demands. No more over-provisioning! With cloud computing, you can pay as you go – spin up what you need when you need it, and spin it down when demand drops.
As a whole, IT organizations need to be prepared to set aside the old and welcome new approaches to delivering cloud services. The journey to the cloud not only brings efficiencies but also fosters more collaboration within your organization and enhances your IT organization to becoming a well-oiled machine that develops best practices and quickly responds to your business cloud needs. Ready to get started on your cloud journey? Contact us to get started with a Cloud Readiness Assessment.
Tech leaders are increasingly turning to the cloud for cost savings and convenience, but getting to the cloud is not so easy. Here are the top 5 pitfalls to avoid when migrating to the cloud.
1. Choosing the wrong migration approach
There are 6 migration strategies, and getting to these 6 takes a considerable amount of work. Jumping into a cloud migration without the due diligence, analysis, grouping and risk ranking is ill-advised. Organizations need to conduct in depth application analyses to determine the correct migration approach. Not all applications are cloud ready and those that are may take some toying with when there. Take the time to really understand HOW your application works, how it will work in the cloud and what needs to be done to migrate it there successfully. 2nd Watch approaches all cloud migrations using our Cloud Factory Model, which includes the following phases – discovery, design and requirement gathering, application analysis, migration design, migration planning and migration(s).
These 6 migration strategies include:
Retain – Leaving it as is. It could be a mistake to move the application to the cloud.
Rehost “aka” Lift and Shift – Migrating the application as-is into the cloud.
Replatform – Characterized as re-imagining how the application is architected and developed, typically using cloud-native features. Basically, you’re throwing away and designing something new or maybe switching over to a SaaS tool altogether.
Retire – No migration target and/or application host decommission on source.
Re-architect/Refactor – Migration of the current application to use the cloud in the most efficient, thorough way possible, incorporating the best features to modernize the application. This is the most complex migration method as it often involves re-writing of code to decouple the application to fully support all the major benefits the cloud provides. The redesign and re-engineering of the application and infrastructure architecture are also key in this type of migration.
From a complexity standpoint, replatform and rearchitect/refactor are the most complicated migration approaches. However, it depends on the application and how you are replatforming (for example, if you’re going to SaaS, it may be a very simple transition. If you’re rebuilding your application on Lambda and DynamoDB, not so much).
2. Big Bang Migration
Some organizations are under the impression that they must move everything at once. This is the furthest from the truth. The reality is that organizations are in hybrid models (On-Prem and Cloud) for a long time because it’s very hard to move some workloads.
It is key to come up with a migration design and plan which includes a strategic portfolio analysis or Cloud Readiness Assessment that assesses each application’s cloud readiness, identifies dependencies between applications, ranks applications by complexity and importance, and identifies the ideal migration path.
3. Underestimating Work Involved and Integration
Migrating to the cloud is not a walk in the park. You must have the knowledge, skill and solid migration design to successfully migrate workloads to the cloud. When businesses hear the words “lift and shift” they are mistakenly under the impression that all one has to do is press a button (migrate) and then it’s “in the cloud.” This is a misnomer that needs to be explained. Underestimating integration is one of the largest factors of failure.
With all of the cheerleading about of the benefits of moving to the cloud, deploying to the cloud adds a layer of complexity, especially when organizations are layering cloud solutions on top of legacy systems and software. It is key to ensure that the migration solution chosen is able to be integrated with your existing systems. Moving workloads to the cloud requires integration and an investment in it as well. Organizations need to have a solid overall architectural design and determine what’s owned, what’s being accessed and ultimately what’s being leveraged.
Lastly, code changes that are required to make move are also often underestimated. Organizations need to remember it is not just about moving virtual machines. The code may not work the same way running in the cloud, which means the subsequent changes required may be deep and wide.
4. Poor Business Case
Determine the value of a cloud migration before jumping into one. What does this mean? Determine what your company expects to gain after you migrate. Is it cost savings from exiting the data center? Will this create new business opportunities? Faster time to market? Organizations need to quantify the benefits before you move.
I have seen some companies experience buyer’s remorse due to the fact that their business case was not multifaceted. It was myopic – exiting the datacenter. Put more focus on the benefits your organization will receive from the agility and ability to enter new markets faster using cloud technologies. Yes, the CapEx savings are great, but the long-lasting business impacts carry a lot of weight as well because you might find that, once you get to the cloud, you don’t save much on infrastructure costs.
5. Not trusting Project Management
An experienced, well versed and savvy project manager needs to lead the cloud migration in concert with the CIO. While the project manager oversees and implements the migration plan and leads the migration process and technical teams, the CIO is educating the business decision makers at the same time. This “team” approach does a number of things. First, it allows the CIO to act as the advisor and consultant to the business – helping them select the right kind of services to meet their needs. Second, it leaves project management to a professional. And lastly, by allowing the project manager to manage, the CIO can evaluate and monitor how the business uses the service to make sure it’s providing the best return on investment.
“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who argue with you.” – John Wooden
Many AWS customers and practitioners have leveraged the Well-Architected Framework methodology in building new applications or migrating existing applications. Once a build or migration is complete, how many companies implement Well-Architected Framework reviews and perform those reviews regularly? We have found that many companies today do not conduct regular Well Architected Framework reviews and as a result, potentially face a multitude of risks.
What is a Well-Architected Framework?
The Well-Architected Framework is a methodology designed to provide high-level guidance on best practices when using AWS products and services. Whether building new or migrating existing workloads, security, reliability, performance, cost optimization, and operational excellence are vital to the integrity of the workload and can even be critical to the success of the company. A review of your architecture is especially critical when the rate of innovation of new products and services are being created and implemented by Cloud Service Providers (CSP).
2nd Watch Well-Architected Framework Reviews
At 2nd Watch, we provide Well-Architected Framework reviews for our existing and prospective clients. The review process allows customers to make informed decisions about architecture decisions, the potential impact those decisions have on their business, and tradeoffs they are making. 2nd Watch offers its clients free Well-Architected Framework reviews—conducted on a regular basis—for mission-critical workloads that could have a negative business impact upon failure.
Examples of issues we have uncovered and remediated through Well-Architected Reviews:
Security: Not protecting data in transit and at rest through encryption
Cost: Low utilization and inability to map cost to business units
Reliability: Single points of failure where recovery processes have not been tested
Performance: A lack of benchmarking or proactive selection of services and sizing
Operations: Not tracking changes to configuration management on your workload
Using a standard based methodology, 2nd Watch will work closely with your team to thoroughly review the workload and will produce a detailed report outlining actionable items, timeframes, as well as provide prescriptive guidance in each of the key architectural pillars.
In reviewing your workload and architecture, 2nd Watch will identify areas of improvement, along with a detailed report of our findings. A separate paid engagement will be available to clients and prospects who want our AWS Certified Solutions Architects and AWS Certified DevOps Engineer Professionals to remediate our findings. To schedule your free Well-Architected Framework review, contact 2nd Watch today.