Conquering VMware to AWS Migration

AllCloud Blog:
Cloud Insights and Innovation

It used to be that migrating to the cloud provided a competitive advantage. Now, companies are moving to the cloud to stay in the game — to be agile, scalable, and profitable. This is especially true for VMware customers today due to the recent Broadcom licensing shift, which is causing substantial price increases and uncertainty regarding VMware infrastructure.

Overcoming the Challenges of VMware to AWS Migration

While the AllCloud team has completed hundreds of VMware to AWS migrations, moving thousands of instances, I personally experienced the challenges associated with migrating VMware to AWS 12 years ago. The project involved moving 25 years’ worth of technical debt at a 100-year-old company, moving several hundred servers and dozens of applications. We had an aggressive timeline because our data center was closing, and we were able to complete the migration in three months. 

We hired a team from AWS Professional Services and an AWS partner company to come in and perform a comprehensive discovery. We had a massive infrastructure — mainframes, elaborate backup systems, and a multitude of networking and security devices. A cost analysis showed that we’d save $400,000 to $500,000 over the course of four years just on the expenses of the infrastructure. Additionally, we wouldn’t have to manage hardware, networking, procurement, or licensing with AWS. 

However the team that had set up VMware 25 years prior was still employed with the company, and they knew the ins and outs of the existing system. They did not want to switch, so we implemented heavy change management to get buy-in and make sure everyone’s input was listened to, and they were able to adapt. 

However, the biggest hurdle with this migration wasn’t moving the instances, and it wasn’t even change management. The biggest hurdle was related to identifying priorities. For example, we prioritized workloads by their affinities (the relationships and dependencies between different workload components, i.e., database, web server, load balancer, etc). During the discovery analysis, if we saw a lot of traffic going to a particular instance, then we would trace back where the traffic was coming from and why.

Identifying those priorities required a good partner. I studied AWS and learned what I could at the time, but there was no substitute for partnering with the experts we were working with. Because of our success, we were featured at AWS re-Invent the following year.

5 Hurdles in Migrations

Since then, I personally have led dozens of VMware to AWS migrations. All successful migrations have focused on overcoming five hurdles—the same hurdles I dealt with in that migration 12 years ago.

  • Technical Disparities: AWS and VMware operate with distinct architectures, which requires careful re-architecting or refactoring of applications for optimal functionality.
  • Operational Changes: You need a plan for adopting new tools and processes and retraining teams in AWS services.
  • Security and Compliance: Adapting security measures and governance models to the cloud’s shared responsibility model is critical.
  • Cost Management: For effective budgeting, you need to understand the on-demand pricing model of AWS and remember that VM CPU/Memory oversubscription tendencies in VMware do not exist in a non-shared resource model in AWS.
  • Migration Planning: Successful execution depends on planning. Minimizing downtime, ensuring secure and reliable data transfer, and choosing the right migration strategy (lift-and-shift, re-platform, re-architect) are crucial aspects of the process.  

Position Your Migration for Success with AllCloud

AllCloud’s VMware to AWS Transition Readiness Assessment maps out a strategy for secure and cost-effective cloud migration. AllCloud’s team of experts will guide you through a discovery process to analyze your environment, identify optimal migration paths, and recommend cost-effective AWS architecture and resources. The assessment includes developing a business case covering AWS and migration costs alongside a plan for ongoing operations, including security, observability, and performance management. We’ll also evaluate your team’s skills and provide AWS upskilling paths. We can suggest managed services from our kickstart package for a smooth cloud transition and operations if needed.

Learn more about the VMware to AWS Transition Readiness Assessment and register for a free consultation.

Suliman Lei

Lead AWS Solutions Architect

Read more posts by Suliman Lei