Background and motivation: Over the last few years, enterprises across the globe are embracing digital. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend to enhance customer experience, explore innovative cash flow models, mitigate supply chain disruptions, and explore M&A opportunities. Cloud technologies enabled these business goals by paving the path for innovation, automation, and cost optimization. Classical cloud adoption for many companies has been a green-field approach. Enterprises created many new cloud-native applications as a part of digital-readiness initiatives. These applications are often add-ons to the existing core business solutions, focusing on customer-facing areas where innovation was most urgently required. As a result, many enterprises still run their core business solutions on virtualized infrastructure1. Virtualization has helped reduce operating and capital costs and increase information technology (IT) productivity and agility. However, these infrastructures often lack multi-site failover capabilities and do not meet the business's elasticity. They run in a single data center and might have a failover site where they plan to resume business in case of failures, but this is very constrained in most circumstances.
Additionally, despite an apparent demand for 24×7 business and zero downtime, it is expensive to make workloads available in multiple global regions close to the customers. Furthermore, the existing central data centers introduce latency issues. Infrastructure designs that solve these problems require a significant budget, time, and effort from IT and business departments. Hence enterprises are looking at options to continue to run their core business solutions with minimal investments while remediating the technical debt and optimizing the costs.
Wipro FullStride Cloud Services2 partners with enterprises to migrate applications to the cloud to help customers achieve the scale, intelligence, and agility required to stay competitive and generate value. Wipro is a cloud innovator and expert in cloud strategies that balance the efforts, investment, and risks of migrating workloads to the cloud. In the past, Wipro has partnered with virtualization technology companies, like VMware and other cloud providers, to provide thought leadership on the migration approach. First, this article discusses business and IT considerations for migrating existing core business solutions lying on virtualized infrastructure, specifically VMware, to the cloud. Later, it reinforces the importance of adopting the correct planning and execution method for such migrations.
Extending VMware workloads to the cloud: Considering the significant budget and IT efforts required to migrate core business solutions to the cloud, enterprises are now adopting the strategy of expanding on-premises VMware infrastructure to manage VMware in the cloud. All major cloud providers offer fully or partially managed VMware services with the required components like vSphere, vCenter, vSAN, NSX-T, and HCX that companies can govern within a cloud provider management console. Compared to classical cloud migrations, one of the significant reasons for moving on-prem VMware workload to the cloud is the ability to execute zero downtime 'vMotion' based migrations while preserving IPs and hostnames of the migrated VMs. This advantage allows for totally new cloud migration concepts compared to classical approaches, as migrated VMs can continue to provide their services on their own IPs and network names even during and after the migration.
In such a migration, enterprises gain the most relevant benefits: elasticity, scalability, and move to a pay-as-you-go model that converts CAPEX to OPEX for business. Companies can now execute a scale-out of adding new nodes to a cluster in 20 minutes and eliminate managing underlying hardware infrastructure components by consuming a managed service. VMware resources can spin up in any geography following business requirements without the need to book into a data center in that geography. In addition, enterprises can continue to use the existing management stack and team skillset on the ground without the need to up-skill everyone within the organization during a cloud migration.
Planning and execution: Even though consuming managed VMware services in the cloud eases the migration journey by setting up and running the infrastructure, migration of VMware workloads to the cloud comes with its challenges. A case in point is a Layer 2 stretched network that extends on-prem networks to the cloud, introducing network latencies that must be analyzed and considered before migration. Also, preserving and enhancing the current level of security is crucial when cutting over the network gateways to the cloud. This transition is an important step that requires existing on-prem packet filtering firewall capabilities and IDS/IPS systems built in the cloud.
“Despite a zero-downtime lift-and-shift migration by nature, successful migration of VMware workloads to the cloud requires technical expertise and collaboration from multiple disciplines, e.g., networking across the entire VMware stack, backup services, security, and program management.”, says Tim Lapawa, Technical Lead for VMware Compute Enterprise at Wipro. Enterprises often miscalculate ROIs because the economics of cloud migration involves several costs over and above cloud consumption and server depreciation. “Such a migration involves specialized tools for discovery, assessment and migration, backup and disaster recovery tools, several other systems and subsystems to inter-operate, and several execution teams to collaborate,” says Pramod Nair, Head of Architecture at Wipro. Wipro works with clients in designing a proper migration strategy and planning, orchestration, integration, and simplification across the cloud partner ecosystem towards a successful migration of VMware workloads to the cloud.
Wipro proposes a 7-S framework while planning a migration of VMware workloads to the cloud:
- Study – Discovery and assessing workloads, i.e., applications and solutions, understanding dependencies, services consumed by the application, and the corresponding services in the cloud.
- Size – Conducting an assessment phase driven by the business priorities, creating a sizing assessment to understand the target footprint in the cloud, and deciding on the workloads to be migrated.
- Stretch – Deciding on project organization, setting up infrastructure services, and establishing network connectivity to the cloud.
- Secure – Rebuilding existing classical firewall security solutions and enhancing them with the latest IDS/IPS threat detection capabilities.
- Simulate – Conducting MVPs or proofs-of-concept for enterprises with complex architectures and no prior experience migrating VMware workloads to the cloud.
- Structure – Defining a governance structure and operating model during migration and post-migration.
- Shift – Migrating workloads and data to the cloud as per enterprise strategy and with hyper-care planned in the post-migration phase.
Wipro helps enterprises discuss the right questions and evaluate the technical aspects of a successful VMware workloads cloud migration. We also work with clients to provide thought leadership and technical solutions to add modernizations like software-defined networking, distributed firewalls, modern IDS/IPS concepts. Wipro advises conducting MVPs and POCs to have an incremental approach to perform partial workload migrations and testing for complex architectures with no prior migration history. As the cloud migration and post-migration phase requires a proper balance of team comprising of infrastructure, application, and cloud experts, the ‘structure’ component of 7S becomes crucial. Hence, skilling them and defining their roles is essential. Wipro works closely with clients to provide end-to-end support in their cloud migration journey, including designing cloud excellence centers, governance models, and operating team structures.
Wipro’s capabilities: As companies typically execute VMWare migration within the context of a general cloud adoption strategy, it is essential to be supported by a partner that can cater to all technical, security, operational, and financial challenges aspects of cloud migration. Wipro delivers transformative cloud migration journeys to clients across geographies and industries with highly skilled teams to strategize and implement cloud migration. Wipro FullStride Cloud Services leverages proprietary tools and frameworks from our Cloud Studios and our partner ecosystem to deliver cloud migration engagements. In the case of VMware workload migration to the cloud, Wipro FullStride Cloud Services brings together its partnerships with VMware, the partnerships with the hyperscalers, and the associations with the core business systems vendors. We work closely with the customer stakeholders such as the application teams, infrastructure teams, security, and operations teams for a successful migration.
- “How a Hypervisor-Converged Software-Defined Data Center Enables a Better Private Cloud”, vmware.com