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Breaking down the wall between VMware vSphere and cloud

Utpal Thakrar | June 24, 2014
As infrastructure and operations professionals seek to broker cloud services for the enterprise, they are coming to terms with the need to "cloudify" existing vSphere infrastructure in order to make these environments more developer-friendly and support migration of workloads to AWS or other clouds as their needs evolve.

As infrastructure and operations professionals seek to broker cloud services for the enterprise, they are coming to terms with the need to "cloudify" existing vSphere infrastructure in order to make these environments more developer-friendly and support migration of workloads to AWS or other clouds as their needs evolve.

In other words, the goal is to make vSphere look and act like a public cloud. The biggest challenges that enterprises face when trying to unify vSphere and cloud environments isn't technical, but rather cultural. For example, getting agreement on what "cloud" even means? What cloud characteristics are required, and what gaps must be filled to cloud-enable vSphere?

There are six key requirements that must be addressed to deliver all the benefits of cloud on vSphere:

* Rapid Self-Service. According to the2014 State of the Cloud Report, 71% of cloud-focused companies provide self-service portals that enable developers to provision new infrastructure in the cloud in less than an hour. This expectation sets the bar when creating cloud-like vSphere environments.

To satisfy these expectations, organizations need to fill several critical gaps between vSphere capabilities and public cloud alternatives. Developers or even business users need to quickly and easily provision workloads through a self-service portal. Self-service also provides the opportunity for IT to deliver a catalog of standardized VMs for commonly used workloads. By offering self-service access, vSphere admins can shift from low-value activities of manually provisioning VMs to high-value activities such as offering agile infrastructure and standardized catalogs of services. A good self-service portal will also give IT teams better visibility, governance, and management.

* Migration and portability across cloud and virtualized environments. IT organizations are already working to implement hybrid IT environments that leverage vSphere and private clouds, as well as AWS and other public clouds. In doing so, enterprises are making strategic choices to avoid lock-in to any particular vendor, resource pool, or virtualization technology.

One-way migration (typically from virtualized data centers to AWS or public clouds) can provide significant value for organizations looking to eliminate data centers and move to pure public cloud services. Moving these workloads can require some refactoring of applications to operate effectively in public cloud.

However, delivering ongoing application portability goes well beyond brute force "lift and shift" migrations. There are several compelling reasons for investing in application portability including lifecycle-based deployment, cloudbursting, disaster recovery (DR), and supporting multiple hypervisors.

To maintain application portability, it is important to plan ahead and put in place a multi-cloud foundation that makes it easy to change the underlying infrastructure.

* Support for DevOps and Configuration Management. vSphere leverages black box golden images that make it difficult to track, audit, and control the software, versions, and patches included in each golden image. As a result, many enterprises create manual spreadsheets simply to track such details as the date, time, and person associated with any changes made to VMs.

 

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