VMware As a Stepping-Stone to the Cloud
For companies that have virtualized their environments and are considering whether they should migrate to the cloud, one option to consider is leveraging their investment in VMware and using it as a pathway to building their own private cloud. This approach is especially attractive to companies that would like the advantages of a cloud environment—agility, scalability, high availability, and cost reductions—but have security or compliance concerns that prohibit migrating to a public cloud.
Virtualization vs. Cloud
There are similarities between virtualization and cloud computing, but they’re not the same. Virtualization enables multiple environments to run on a single machine and breaks the linkage between a running application/operating system instance and a specific physical machine. The cloud adds on capabilities including automation and self-service for bringing up new instances quickly and easily. Through these capabilities, provisioning becomes much more agile.
VMware and OpenStack
Using the public cloud is at least conceptually easy; the cloud provider owns and manages the physical environment and is responsible for making deployments and scalability easy. In a private cloud, you’re responsible for managing all of those services. OpenStack, a free open source product, provides support for many elements needed for Infrastructure-as-a-Service, such as resource pools for processors, storage, and networking, and it can run using VMware as its hypervisor.
But installing OpenStack isn’t straightforward. So VMware developed the VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO). Using VIO, customers running vSphere Enterprise Plus can use a wizard to guide them through the necessary configuration steps. When the wizard’s complete, presto! You have your own private cloud running in your VMware environment.
Other products from VMware add on to support you in managing your private cloud, including VMware vCenter Chargeback, which lets you base chargebacks on usage. Through streamlining the provisioning process, a private cloud moves departments away from the mindset that their VMs need to run continuously; since they can shut them down and start them up easily as needed, your hardware resources can be used more efficiently.
Deciding to Build a Private Cloud with VMware
Companies should think through their needs, goals, and expectations before tackling implementation of a private cloud. If you use a public cloud, you don’t pay for servers that you aren’t using. When you maintain your own private cloud, you need to build the capacity needed to provide scalability, and the costs of maintaining that capacity don’t go away when an instance is shut down.
Because running a cloud requires virtualized storage and networking as well as virtual servers, you need to make your environment fully virtual before the cloud’s orchestrated provisioning capabilities become available. Some servers may be obsolete or difficult to use for the cloud, so you need to evaluate whether you can simply repurpose your existing environment or if you need to invest in new hardware.
You also need to understand how that cloud environment will be used. Not all applications are suited to the cloud, so you need to understand which applications will benefit from cloud deployments. You should review your workloads to identify that belong in the private cloud, which can run in public cloud, and which shouldn’t migrate to the cloud at all.
Although VMware Integrated OpenStack makes executing the technical steps of creating a private cloud simple, the wizard can’t address your policies and business needs around cloud usage. Working with an experienced IT services provider like Prescient Solutions is the best way to evaluate all factors and make sure the strategy you choose will support your business. Our team’s experience with VMware and Microsoft Azure means we can help you create the private, public, or hybrid cloud environment that will allow your business to grow. Contact us for a free cloud assessment to help you define your cloud computing strategy.