I’ve worked as a VMware consultant for many years and managed numerous large-scale on-premise environments. One of the main issues that I faced on a daily basis was the inability to scale and grow fast. When we needed more compute resources, we had to wait between 3-8 weeks, sometimes even longer, to increase physical servers. During that waiting period our clusters began to suffer from performance issues. When we needed more storage space, even if it was temporarily, we had to purchase more storage arrays, installing and configuring everything from scratch. From the moment I had a need for more storage until the moment I finally got the datastore inside my cluster took a very long time.
Another big issue was the maintenance process. While we had a requirement to keep our infrastructure up-to-date in order to meet the application’s requirements, updating and patching became a difficult task to do. In our data center, we had many IT components and we were always worried about dependencies and compatibility with other components. Only after checking everything, we would start to update our vSphere environment, and because we had a very large environment, it took a lot of time to complete the update, and after it finished, we were notified that a new update had been released. Similarly, maintaining the DR sites were also very cumbersome.
Dreaming about moving to the cloud
My team and I always had known the advantages of a public cloud like AWS. We were looking for flexibility, the ability to add resources on a “pay-as-you-go” model and to have the hardware maintenance taken care of for us. However, with our large environment, we knew that migrating all of our applications and data to the cloud could take years to plan out and deploy.
We found a solution to all of our problems – VMware Cloud on AWS.
VMware Cloud on AWS takes the entire VMware software-defined data center to the AWS cloud by using bare-metal servers hosted by Amazon. VMware Cloud on AWS was ideal for our enterprise IT infrastructure and operations. It can suit organizations looking to migrate their on-premise vSphere-based workloads to the public cloud, extend their data center capacities, and optimize or modernize their disaster recovery solutions. Using VMware Cloud on AWS, we basically simplified our new Hybrid IT operations by using the same VMware Cloud Foundation technologies including vSphere, vSAN, NSX, and vCenter Server across our on-premise data centers and on the AWS Cloud without having to purchase any new or custom hardware, rewrite applications, or modify operating models.
With VMC on AWS, VMware is responsible for maintaining, upgrading and patching of the VMware components inside the SDDC. After using the Hybrid offering, I have become quite familiar with it and think it can be very helpful for organizations looking to utilize the benefits of the cloud.
Common Use Cases and Benefits
VMware Cloud on AWS can be used as an extension to an existing on-premise environment. If you are running out of resources in your local data center, deploy a new cluster on AWS! If you need another host, 12 minutes on average and you have one. And if you have a hardware failure, the host will be replaced automatically with a new host. There is also an optional feature called “EDRS” that automatically scales your vSphere Cluster based on utilization.
There is now no need to worry about scalability or data center redundancy (n+1…) anymore. Using VMware Cloud on AWS, you can also implement a hybrid architecture with a feature called “Hybrid Linked Mode”, providing a single pane of glass for management of both on-premise and cloud environments for the same vSphere client. There is also the ability to do a live migration (vMotion) of VMs from on-premise to the cloud and back with no downtime. It can also be used as a DR site. VMware offers a DRaaS solution with SRM and vSphere Replication.
In my opinion, the best part of the solution is its integration with native AWS services. Customers can leverage services like S3 (object-based storage) to store templates, iSO files (it can be used as a VMware Content Library as well) or for backup purposes, using Elastic file system solutions for VMs (EFS for Linux and FSx for Windows). There is also the option to use managed services like AWS load balancing tools or AWS RDS for database purposes.
As I mentioned earlier, VMware Cloud on AWS is a completely managed service and VMware takes care of the maintenance. They also provide 24/7 live chat with their support engineers. This way the VMware team in your organization will be able to focus on more important work like architecture and automation.
VMware Cloud on AWS can help VMware customers get up and running on the cloud quickly and without much effort. From experience, I believe this should be the preferred path for VMware users who want to start trialing cloud services or exploring the innovative world that AWS has to offer.