VMware Cloud on AWS Migration Theory pt.1 – The Amazon 6 R’s Methodology

Over recent years the 6 R’s Migration Methodology has become a staple of the Cloud Architect. Why you ask?.. Simply put, it breaks down an application footprint into an easily iterated approach for almost all aspects of cloud migration. The original AWS blog post can be found here.

Figure 1: Amazon 6 R Migration Methodology

If we track through the diagram above (taken from the original blog post), the path begins with understanding our application, navigating through a migration process and ending with the same or similar application (from a functional perspective) in production. Then simply rinse and repeat. The path chosen is determined by the desired outcome and the skills of those performing the migration. Sounds simple, right?..

Fit for Purpose: Put the Square Peg in the Square Hole…

Anyone who has ever worked on a large scale public cloud migration should have some familiarity with this concept, but for the purpose of applying this methodology to VMC we need to break it down further.

Figure 2: Team alignment to migration method

The above diagram illustrates how I align the 6R’s with teams (and skills) commonly found in most IT organizations. By no means is my siloing of the R’s absolute. Every IT organization is nuanced, however my observation comes from working across a broad spectrum of industries. Let’s delve into this observation by spending a few moments expanding the grouping of R’s.

Retain / Retire – Typically the domain of the infrastructure team. Existing applications need to be fed, watered and generally cared for in a way familiar to most IT organisations. The decision to retire an application will likely come from an app owner, however the way in which an application is retired often falls to infrastructure and operations teams.

Rehost / Replatform – Lift n’ Shift and broad scale transformation of an application tier, service or primitive. This method has less cloud native transformation (which could be seen as a good or a bad attribute), but gains the benefits of moving to a cloud consumption model whilst retaining existing operational models.

Refactor (or rearchitect) / Repurchase (or rebuild from scratch) – Squarely in the domain of the app owner and the developer and the preferred methodology of the ‘Cloud Purist’. If you refer back to the original 6 R’s digram you’ll notice that refactoring clearly involves the most steps and therefore the most effort. Repurchasing can be convenient as long as integration to existing systems is not too onerous.

With all this taken into consideration, if you belong to a traditional IT organization (and working towards a cloud migration) it’s likely you will have considered all of the above options. Each has its own merits and drawbacks in a large scale migration.

So, where does VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC) fit?

The majority of migration strategies I work on begin with rehost. This is due to fundamental nature of migrating to a cloud service that mirrors the primitives we find in our existing datacenter. ZERO transformation required. Heck, you don’t even have to power off the workload (vMotion is still rad no matter what any of the container purists say). The minimization of workload transformation is what makes this method so compelling.

Fantastic, what else you got?…

Rehosting is a great place to start but there are also a number of ways we can augment this foundation to take advantage native AWS services. Most IT orgs will have considered cloud based backup, but the gotcha is always the egress charges you incur recovering your data.

VMC enables direct connection from our SDDC (which runs in a native amazon VPC) to an S3 VPC Endpoint, therefore enabling you to use a mechanism like Amazon Storage Gateway to present an object storage target to your backup software. Alternatively a number of VMware’s Partners (Dell, VEEAM, Commvault, etc) provide VMC supported direct integration to S3 / IA / Glacier from the latest versions of their software. The result > Low cost, high resiliency, high availability storage with archive and date lifecycle capability right out of the box AND if we are recovering our data / apps directly to a VMC SDDC there are no network egress charges to take into consideration.

Figure 3 : 3rd party backup software using S3/IA/Glacier as a target from a VMC SDDC

The above diagram is intended to show how this can be generically achieved using relatively few components (although this will differ depending on the backup software). For the cloud purist this might be considered a fairly rudimentary approach to replatforming, however this is one of the key areas of transformation where we will see best “bang for buck”.

The same mechanism that allows for this direct connectivity to native AWS services (namely the Elastic Network Interface, or ENI) enables a multitude of ways to replatform, including >

  • Migrate databases to RDS or Aurora
  • Migrate file services to EFS or FSx (where available)
  • Migrate load balancing to ALB or NLB
  • Migrate DNS to Route 53
  • Migrate horizontally scaled applications to EC2 / Cloud Watch / AutoScale / ELB and integrate with VMC hosted apps
  • + many more…

Note, this is just a fraction of what can be achieved and this super high level breakdown of options does not really do justice to the potential for transformation. I’m not going to attempt to cover everything in this post or it’ll turn into War & Peace.

Rest assured, there will be plenty more to come to expand on this approach… ūüôā

VMware Cloud on AWS: Useful Links

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Simply a collection of useful links for the VMware Cloud on AWS service that I use regularly. This page will be updated regularly as new details emerge.


VMware Cloud Services Information & Pricing

https://cloud.vmware.com/ –¬†General information and contextual links to VMware Cloud on AWS in addition to other cloud based VMware services.

https://cloud.vmware.com/vmc-aws/pricingVMC pricing guide.

https://cloud.vmware.com/vmc-aws/faqVMC frequently asked questions.


Cloud Services Platform (CSP) 

https://console.cloud.vmware.com/csp/gateway/discovery –¬†Login portal for VMware Cloud Services.

https://console.cloud.vmware.com/csp/gateway/api-docs#/ –¬†Swagger documentation page for CSP APIs.


VMware Cloud on AWS

https://vmc.vmware.com/ –¬†Root domain for VMware Cloud on AWS services.

https://vmc.vmware.com/swagger/index.html –¬†Swagger documentation page for VMC APIs. To access this page you need to be authenticated¬†and have the relevant permissions to be able to execute SDDC API calls.

https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-on-AWS/index.htmlDocumentation base for VMware Cloud on AWS.


VMware Cloud on AWS Admin Tools

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=VMC_GA&productId=664VMC administration tools include DCLI and VMware Cloud on AWS Content Onboarding Assistant.

https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/details?downloadGroup=PCLI650R1&productId=614PowerCLI 6.5.4 including new VMware Cloud on AWS module.

https://www.powershellgallery.com/packages/VMware.VMC/1.0.0VMware Cloud on AWS PowerShell module.


Blogs, Labs and Useful Stuff

https://blog.cloud.vmware.com/s/services-and-products-vmware-cloud-on-awsOffical VMware blog site for VMware Cloud on AWS.

https://zerotin.org/2017/09/24/vmworld-2017-vmware-cloud-on-aws-session-recap/VMware Cloud on AWS youtube videos from VMWorld 2017.

https://zerotin.org/2017/12/07/vmware-cloud-on-aws-a-penny-for-your-hacks/VMware Cloud on AWS videos from AWS re:Invent 2017.

https://www.udemy.com/vmwarecloudaws/Introductory online course for VMware Cloud on AWS.

https://www.vmware.com/try-vmware/vmc-aws-hol-labs.htmlVMware Cloud on AWS hands on lab.

http://www.vmtocloud.com/how-to-run-a-vmware-cloud-on-aws-assessment/How to run a VMware Cloud on AWS assessment using vRealise Business for Cloud.

http://emadyounis.com/vmware-cloud-on-aws/configuring-hybrid-linked-mode-hlm-for-vmware-cloud-on-aws/How to configure Hybrid Linked Mode.

https://blogs.vmware.com/virtualblocks/2017/11/28/vmware-site-recovery-delivers-draas-for-vmware-cloud-on-aws/VMware Site Recovery overview.



VMware Cloud on AWS: “A Penny for Your Hacks…”


Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 1.56.39 pmOK, so I know I promised to condense my list of VMWorld 2017 VMC on AWS sessions down to my favourite 5-10, however since I made the aforementioned promise it seems like a flood of features has passed us by. Whilst I am getting around to selecting the finalists for a prestigious place on my list (*wink), I want take the pulse of both VMware and AWS enthusiasts to understand how you feel the service could be used in ways other than our marketers suggest.

So what the heck do you want Kev?…

True story: Recently I ran a VMC workshop that gave me a bit of insight into the resourcefulness of AWS users and how the AWS Solution Architects were often surprised by their customers creativity. Seeing as consumption of VMware Cloud on AWS is somewhat unprecedented (being the service has only just launched) I’m keen to understand how combining the technologies can lead to some unforeseen and inspiring outcomes.

So my ask? >> Please forward me any thoughts, ideas and hacks, no matter how wacky or wild and I’ll try to recreate them in my lab and detail them right here. We might even attempt to demonstrate the most requested at a local VMUG Hackathon type thingy. Reply on the post, hit me up on Twitter @_kevops, or if you’re more of a traditionalist, kgorman@vmware.com. Never fear, every idea will be credited to it’s creator regardless of how absurd.

To get you thinking (and to give you a little more detail on the service in general) I’ve linked a couple of VMC sessions from AWS re:Invent specifically on “Unique Integrations” and a VMC Technical Deep Dive.

Enjoy!.. and happy holidays

VMware Cloud on AWS: Technical Deep Dive

VMware Cloud on AWS: A World of Unique Integrations Between VMware & AWS

VMWorld 2017 Recap – VMware Cloud on AWS Session(s)

Another VMWorld done… and now for the weeks of recoding catchup on deep-dive goodness. There is plenty of detailed information to finally clear up the speculation and FUD that has been circulating on VMware Cloud on AWS over the last 12 months.

For your convenience I have collected available VMC sessions for easy consumption. I’ll follow up this post with my top 10 once I have trawled through all the below.


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LHC3376BUS - AWS Native Services Integration with VMware Cloud on AWS: Technical Deep Dive

LHC1547BU - Creating Your VMware Cloud on AWS Data Center: VMware Cloud on AWS Fundamentals

LHC3345BUS - Enabling the dynamic hybrid cloud environment Powered by VMware Software Defined Data Center and VMware Cloud on AWS

MMC3066BU - How Do You Use Network Insights' SaaS to Secure Multitier Hybrid Apps Running on vSphere, VMware Cloud on AWS, and AWS Native?

LHC2281BU - Intriguing Integrations with VMware Cloud on AWS, EC2, S3, Lambda, and More

MMC2820BU - Live Demo: 3 Best Practices for Deploying, Managing and Securing AWS EC2 Apps with VMware Cloud Services

LHC2103BU - NSX and VMware Cloud on AWS: Deep Dive

LHC2105BU - NSX and VMware Cloud on AWS: The Path to Hybrid Cloud

MMC2455BU - On-Demand Disaster Recovery for Enterprise Applications with the VMware Cloud on AWS

LHC1539BU - Paving the Way to the Hybrid Cloud with VMware Cloud Service Providers and vCloud Availability

LHC1882BU - Service Overview for VMware Cloud on AWS

LHC2386BU - True Costs Savings - Modeling and Costing A Migration to VMware Cloud on AWS

LHC1910BU - Using vRealize with VMware Cloud on AWS

LHC1748BU - VMware Cloud for AWS and the Art of Software-Defined Data Centers: API, CLI, and PowerShell

LHC1755BU - VMware Cloud for AWS Storage and Availability: Keeping Your Bits Safe for Humanity

LHC3174BU - VMware Cloud on AWS: An Architectural and Operational Deep Dive

LHC3174BU - VMware Cloud on AWS: An Architectural and Operational Deep Dive

LHC2384BU - VMware Cloud on AWS: A Technical Deep Dive

LHC3375BUS - VMware Cloud on AWS Hybrid Cloud Architectural Deep Dive: Networking and Storage Best Practices

LHC3175BU - VMware Cloud on AWS Partner Solutions Showcase

LHC3371BUS - VMware Cloud on AWS ??? The Painless Path to Hybrid Cloud

LHC2651BUS - Work Load Mobility & Resiliency for the New VMware Cloud on AWS

MGT2875BU - Manage, Govern, and Extend VMware Cloud on AWS with vRealize Automation

STO3194BU - Protecting Virtual Machines in VMware Cloud on AWS

STO1498BU - Tech Preview: Disaster Recovery with VMware Cloud on AWS

STO1890BU - VMware Cloud on AWS: Storage Deep Dive

LHC3016PU - VMware Cloud on AWS: A View of the World from Our Customers


Thanks as always to @lamw for his annual session scraping. URL’s for all uploaded sessions found here:


VMware Cloud(s) Dissected – A VMware Public Cloud Platform Comparison…

Intro: So you may have been following my VCA Dissected series, but in line with the recent expansion of VMware Cloud Services my role as a Cloud Specialist has diversified to include all things VMware &¬†Cloud. With that in mind, a series name change is in order… So¬†VCA Dissected becomes VMware Cloud(s) Dissected.

All of the (VMware) Clouds…

Holy moly, it’s been a crazy few months on the road with VMWorld!¬†So many game changing¬†announcements delivered through keynotes, breakout sessions and group discussions. In addition to general announcements on¬†vSphere 6.5, EUC and Cloud Native Apps, we were also introduced to several¬†new VMware public cloud offerings¬†and associated services. For the purposes of clarity, I’m going to give a high-level break down of each platform within¬†VMware’s Cross Cloud Architecture (not including Cross Cloud Services) to try and illustrate¬†where each will be¬†most effective.

First things first. If you haven’t watched day one keynote¬†from VMWorld Europe, I highly recommend you do so… (click on image to view the recording. If you’re not interested in¬†the reasoning behind the vision, skip to about 30 mins in).


To summarize, P.G. talked through his predictions for cloud consumption trends in the near (and not so near) future which set the stage to announce VMware¬†Cross-Cloud Architecture; a set of converged software services incorporating major partnerships with leaders in hyper-scale cloud. So let’s dig a little deeper.

Note: There were plenty of disclaimers and forward looking statements on tech previews in the VMWorld presentations, public FAQ’s, demos and press releases, so please understand that anything I mention here is subject to change as more information is released.

VMware Cloud (VMC) on Amazon Web Services

Boom, the cat’s finally out of the bag. As many¬†of the talking heads¬†have pointed out this is about as significant¬†as any cloud partnership could be. Here are some of the highlights¬†I have chosen¬†from the recent VMWorld VMC sessions.


The big stuff…

  • The VMware SDDC stack (vSphere 6.5, VSAN & NSX) available within AWS Datacenter’s, on AWS infrastructure dedicated to this service.
  • VMC procurement, provisioning and lifecycle is via¬†the VMC customer portal.
  • VMC upgrades, maintenance and billing are exclusively managed ¬†by VMware.
  • Non-VMC services are still billed and managed by AWS directly.
  • VMC can be consumed¬†as a standalone platform on AWS, as a hybrid cloud through vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode, or (in the future) cloud-to-cloud between AWS regions/availability zones through the same mechanism.
  • Continuous upgrades¬†of the SDDC components (including vCenter) on AWS will be scheduled and executed¬†by VMware.
  • Billed by the hour, or procured for a reduced price over¬†12 or 36 months in¬†a similar commercial model to AWS reserved instances.¬†Customers will also be able to leverage their existing investments in VMware licenses through VMware customer loyalty programs.
  • Availability mid-2017.

The¬†technical stuff…

  • Initial deployment of between 4 to 64 hosts, which can be scaled through manual process or by;
  • Elastic Distributed Resource Scheduler (Elastic DRS) which dynamically adds and removes physical hosts based on predefined EDRS rules.
  • Enhanced Linked Mode enables inventory management, content library synchronization, etc. of AWS VMC hosts from on-prem vCenter.
  • Each tenancy uses the AWS VPC construct for logical isolation.
  • Edge/perimeter services are provided by NSX Edge Services Gateway, not AWS VPC network services.
  • Full VMC integration with AWS Direct Connect.
  • VMC and AWS user accounts are linked, but separate interfaces¬†and authentication is¬†required for services unique to each vendor.
  • Administrators have direct access to vCenter UI and¬†REST APIs.
  • VMware defined RBAC limits the install of untested third party software with custom VIB’s.

The value…

  • Simply put, industry leading SDDC platform¬†on an industry leading hyper-scale¬†public cloud. Truly the best of both worlds.
  • The ability to easily integrate and extend our VMware IaaS platform¬†to incorporate¬†AWS storage, data, application and automation specific¬†services.
  • Intra region/availability zone efficiency through low latency connectivity to AWS services, avoiding costs incurred when data and network traffic leaves the AWS region.
  • Zero downtime workload migration to VMC-on-AWS through Cross vCenter Server vMotion.
  • Maintenance and upgrade of SDDC platform components managed entirely by VMware.

There’s not a whole bunch of detailed information on VMC right now as it’s early days, but Frank Denneman’s blog¬†and the AWS blog is a good place to start. Note, during¬†the ‘Closer Look’ VMWorld breakout session it was also acknowledged that a number of announcements are still to be revealed at AWS Re:Invent at the end of November.

VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) on IBM Softlayer

VMware Cloud Foundation is the same SDDC stack (vSphere, VSAN, NSX) as VMC  but with VMware SDDC Manager as the overlay software which handles platform deployment, configuration and ongoing SDDC lifecycle tasks for specific use cases. What makes VCF different from VMC (other than the obvious partnerships), is that Cloud Foundation can be deployed privately within our own datacenters in addition to public cloud.

The global partnership with IBM was announced at VMWorld Las Vegas and they will be the first global cloud service provider to offer Cloud Foundation. vCloud Air will also join IBM in the near future in addition to other numerous VCAN providers throughout 2017.

Note, I’m not really going into any detail about VCF as this is a public cloud breakdown.¬†I would recommend a read of Ray Heffer’s fantastic official VMware blog digging deeper into VCF’s underlying architecture.


In addition to the numerous benefits of VCF architecture here are some of the notes I have taken around the IBM partnership.

The big stuff…

  • Fully automated deployment of the¬†VCF¬†stack (vSphere 6.5, VSAN & NSX) on IBM Softlayer dedicated infrastructure.
  • All services are billed directly by IBM.
  • VCF¬†can be consumed¬†as a standalone platform on IBM, as a hybrid cloud through vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode, or cloud-to-cloud between IBM regions¬†through the same mechanism.
  • vCenter-as-a-Service can be also procured as a subscription through IBM, but¬†customers also have the option to procure perpetual licensing if non-VCF license ownership is desired.
  • Availability; before the end of 2017 for IBM, early 2017 for VCA. Other VCAN partners TBA.

The technical stuff…

  • SDDC Manager will not be directly accessible¬†as it abstracted through the Softlayer¬†Customer Portal. Provisioning, lifecycle tasks, patch management and upgrades are delivered¬†through this portal.
  • NSX completely removes the constraint of IBM Softlayer internal networking (3-4 VLANs).
  • Integrated snapshot based backups of management layer components.
  • VCF best practice single management layer governing¬†multiple IBM Softlayer regions.
  • Linking Cloud Foundation environments is achieved¬†through¬†vCenter Enhanced Linked Mode, not via SDDC Manager.
  • Minimum deployment of four hosts (converged management and workload domains).

The value¬†stuff…

  • BYO-Cloud and consume the full VCF¬†stack on a monthly¬†basis.
  • Low latency access to IBM Cloud services (Object Storage, Bluemix, Watson, etc.)
  • Zero cost private datacenter interconnects between IBM Softlayer Regions.
  • True BYO public cloud for those who require full access to all SDDC functions, including the upgrade and patching of individual SDDC components which is maintained by the customer, not VMware (or IBM without additional services).
  • Ability to build¬†and manage identical SDDC components both on-prem and in public cloud.

Note that VCF is not the only way to consume VMware on IBM Softlayer as IBM customers have previously been able to select individual VMware technologies and deploy them on IBM Softlayer bare metal. This also allows customers to bring their existing licensing to IBM Cloud, which can be a real bonus when migrating from, or replacing an existing datacenter. Note, as an example of how much complexity is actually involved with deploying an entire SDDC platform independently on IBM Softlayer I would suggest a read of the extremely comprehensive reference architecture here.

vCloud Air (non-VCF services)

Contrary to a number of blogs and articles I have read recently, vCloud Air is here to stay, albeit with a renewed focus to address specific VMware hybrid-cloud challenges. I’m not going to cover the existing vCloud Air service here as it has been available for a while now and we should all know it back to front, right? ūüôā

In addition to VCF on vCloud Air, there were numerous announcements including;

  • Enhancements to¬†Hybrid Cloud Manager with the full release of version 2.0, including;
    • Zero downtime Cross-Cloud vMotion utilizing¬†fully integrated WAN opto, proximity routing. Note: This has no dependency¬†on vSphere 6.x and can be used with vSphere 5.5 today.
    • NSX policy migration.
    • Proxy support.
  • New services for Enterprise DR, Hybrid DMZ and DMZ lite.
  • Enhanced Integrated¬†Identity & Access Management.
  • Increased DPC host memory capacity (up to 1TB per host)

Today, vCloud Air is still the only way to subscribe to a fully managed VMware cloud service and take full advantage of Hybrid Cloud Manager. As an added benefit, the entry point for Dedicated Private Cloud (as a direct comparison) is only a single N+1 host meaning the overall initial commitment is not as significant as the other services.

Summing up…

Although the these individual cloud offerings may seem to overlap they each address a different set of challenges by integrating with key partners who are market leaders in a specific hybrid/public cloud capabilities. This puts VMware customers in a unique position of having a choice of multiple clouds depending on individual requirements.

In addition to the above, VMware also has 4000+ vCloud Air Network partners who all offer unique services with VMware software at¬†the core. If I even began to try and break down the breadth of services covered through these partners this blog would turn into War & Peace…

I have only covered a very small amount of high-level info here as I hope to flesh out¬†each¬†service as more information is released. Comments, opinions and feedback in general is always welcome. If your attending vForum Australia 2016 I will also be presenting a couple of sessions on VMware Cross-Cloud Architecture and demoing VMC on AWS, so come and say hello¬†and give me your take on this new world…


Author: @Kev_McCloud