VMware Anywhere? VMware Cloud Director and the journey to Public Cloud

October 16, 2020

Scott Hanson
TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
CLARANET

For over five years we have worked with many customers with their go-to cloud journeys and in that time, have come across two distinct mindsets. 

First, there are companies who have a clear intention to migrate and transform their traditional multi-tiered workloads from legacy infrastructure to hyper-scaler platforms. Their objective is to improve agility, reduce cost, and create a competitive advantage for their business.  

Then there are companies who may not have progressed due to concerns around the cost of re-training, reduction of technical debt, and a lack of understanding of their workload interdependencies. 

Then there is a third category: businesses who previously decided to take a different approach to reach their destination - such as those that have attempted a lift and shift approach. But in the process, they themselves facing unexpected usage costs with no clear plan on how to reduce them and no easy way to repatriate due to high egress charges. 

We also know that over 90% of enterprise customers say that consistency of architecture between their existing private clouds and public cloud is important to them.   

The hyper-scalers themselves recognise this and have been working hard to remove any objections. By partnering with VMware, they are creating innovative ways to stand up vSphere-based clusters to leverage the seemingly infinite scale and latent capacity that exists. In doing so, they can offer customers the familiar management plane that their certified technicians are used to.   

However, for many companies the barrier to entry with these services is cost. As an example, it takes a reasonable VM estate to be able to justify the minimum subscription level for VMware Cloud on AWS for. At Claranet our average customer deployment size is 30-50 VMs, which is around 10% of the minimum production deployment capacity of VMC.  

The other challenge for customers is how to move the workloads over. It’s true that there are some excellent tools around that even allow live migration of workloads. But there is an awful lot of pre-requisite configuration needed, let alone working out how incumbent tooling can be leveraged to manage the workloads in the new environment. Nevertheless, with careful planning and extensive testing a successful migration can be achieved. 

It’s important to note that large scale migration is not necessarily a compelling story for all customers, however. For many, a "stepping stone" approach to migrate workloads is a better fit, allowing businesses to run their VMware workloads anywhere, with migration and transformation determined at their own pace. 

This is where VMware Cloud Director can help. Around for 10 years, this multi-tenant management and orchestration tool consumes resource from vSphere environments, and allows service providers to provide customers the exact resource they need in the form of a Resource Pool. Claranet has been using VMware Cloud Director for many years as the front end of the Claranet Cloud platform.   

It is by no means simply a tool to only manage Virtual Machines. With native support for managing containerisation technologies such as Kubernetes, the ability to serve S3 compliant object storage, and provide a rich, powerful developer marketplace to fast track application deployment, VMware Cloud Director supports both traditional multi-tier architecture deployment and cloud native technologies. Tenants have the option of administering their workloads via GUI or a fully functional REST API allowing Infrastructure as Code management via Terraform or Ansible for example. 

One of the strengths of VMware Cloud Director is its "multi-site" feature that allows a tenant to access virtual cloud datacentres distributed across multiple geographic locations via a single pane of glass. This gives businesses the flexibility and freedom to choose which physical datacentre location they want to use to deploy their production and disaster recovery virtual infrastructure. 

As a VMware Premier MSP partner, Claranet offers customers the ability to extend their Claranet Cloud footprint to a resource pool located in VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC). This seamless integration allows customers the ability to take a minimum footprint in the VMC datacentre - with localised native access to AWS services. Claranet provides the same management tooling to the customer so monitoring, backup, and patching – to name a few areas – all remain consistent, making the customer transition easier. 

Right-sized operating model 

Business around the world are beginning to exploit the benefits of a multi-cloud strategy. By using VMware Cloud Director Service, Claranet are able to combine their market leading expertise with the ability to securely provide shared resources from all major public clouds, including Claranet Cloud, VMware Cloud on AWS, and Azure VMware Solution, to their customers. The service provides Claranet customers with a consistent operating model across clouds that is right-sized to their specific needs, lowering their costs and dramatically increasing their agility through the use of cloud. 

The proximity to AWS native services allows customers transform their workloads to cloud native at their own pace. For example. SQL database migrations to PaaS, leveraging lower cost cloud storage for unstructured data, down to migrating parts of their application to function as a service - all with no pressure on the customer to drastically increase their up-front operating cost. 

Richard Munro, Cloud Evangelist, VMware 

You might be asking, how does this help our customers who still have their own datacentre facility though? Well, with the Central Point of Management (CPOM) functionality of VMware Cloud Director customers can extend their Claranet Cloud reach to include their own dedicated vSphere based platforms. Via a single pane of glass, Customers can manage workloads on-premise, hosted in Claranet or in Public Cloud. This is a very powerful and compelling way for customers to retain the technology that they are familiar and comfortable with - while still advancing their cloud native journey. 

With the rise of other VMware based services in Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, the intention is for Claranet to provide the same extensibility to customers into these platforms where they become generally available. This will truly enable Claranet Cloud to enable customers to run their VMware workloads, anywhere. 

 

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