A virtual machine, commonly known as VM, is a software-defined computer no different from a physical one. The main benefit of virtual computers is that they are independent of physical computers and highly portable. These characteristics make VM's very popular in today's world, even in on-premise environments and especially in the cloud.
Today, we will describe our approach to virtual machine migration to the cloud. Let's dive in!
Firstly, we need to differentiate three types of virtual machine cloud migrations:
Based on the type, the amount of work and tools vary.
For our cloud migration projects, we primarily use the Veeam Backup&Replication suite. For more complex enterprise workloads, we use VMware HCX.
Veeam Backup&Replication suite helps us create VM snapshots (backup) from existing VM's and replicate them into the new environment.
The setup of this tool requires us to install Veeam Backup&Replication in the user's on-premise environment. In the cloud, we also install Veeam Backup&Replication with one additional component - Veeam Cloud Connect. With Veeam Cloud Connect, we define a public endpoint where an on-premise system sends the backup data.
When everything is installed, we create a snapshot of the user's virtual machine and send it to the Cloud Connect endpoint. Once the snapshot is received, it is replicated into the new environment.
Veeam Backup&Replication gives us the ability to backup physical servers and replicate them into the cloud as virtual machines. This process requires the installation of Veeam agents onto the physical server. We also have the ability to convert between various virtual computers formats, such as Hyper V to VMware or vice versa.
VMware HCX is a technology created for large enterprise cloud migration projects where the migration of the whole infrastructure is not an option. This is usually for enterprise projects requiring 500+ VM to be migrated. VMware HCX extends the local network to the cloud to enable local VM's to communicate with those in the cloud without any restrictions.
This approach to virtual machine migration is the simplest one. We use existing virtualization technologies such as VMware to set up new VM's according to the user's requirements and let the user do the rest. Existing infrastructure is recreated in the cloud, and users manually install all the necessary software.
In this type of migration, users have the ability to rearchitect the system and utilize more cloud migration benefits.
The second type of migration is also pretty straightforward. Firstly, we turn off the production system. After that, by using the Veeam Backup&Replication suite, we create a snapshot and transfer it to the external hard drive. The snapshot from the hard drive is brought to the data center and replicated into the cloud.
The third type of virtual machine cloud migration is the most complex. The goal of any cloud migration is to eliminate differences between the old and new system. When downtime is not an issue, we can turn off the production system, create a snapshot, transfer it and turn the new system on again.
When the downtime window is very small, we need to create more than one snapshot; the production system stays online during all snapshots replications except the last one. The first snapshot is the largest and takes most of the time. After replicating the first snapshot, we create a second snapshot with system changes from the first to the second snapshot - we refer to these changes as 'delta.' The goal is to make 'delta' as small as possible. After we agree on the expected downtime, we turn off the production system, replicate 'delta' to the cloud, and turn on the new system.
In this article, we described how we migrate virtual machines to the cloud. The downtime window and the number of VM's are the most important aspects of virtual machine cloud migration. When we have a lot of VM's and the downtime window is very small, it takes a lot of preparation to execute the migration successfully. With the help of various tools and with experience from our certified cloud engineers, we migrated various workloads to the cloud, achieving very short, almost unnoticeable downtimes.
As AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, we help companies of every industry and size solve their infrastructure problems with cloud migration.
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